OK, this is a little silly, but I can’t resist: someone has decided that August 22 is National Punctuation Day. I’ll take that as an excuse to pass along a history of punctuation (including English, Spanish, French, and East Asian) and an exhaustive account [by Nick Nicholas] of Greek punctuation, ancient and modern. (All links via a MetaFilter post by—who else?—?!.)

I’ll also use this opportunity to repeat my plea for a history of Russian punctuation, specifically the late-nineteenth-century change from a “natural,” intuitive system to the present artificial, rule-bound one. Anybody got a link?


  1. Thanks for the great links!

  2. Interesting site, but the information about Korean is almost completly wrong. Korea is not a Mongolian alphabet and does not use the Cyrillic alphabet. It has its own alphabet and is transcribed using the Roman alphabet (even in North Korea). Also, Korea uses English punctuation except for book titles. (I’ve sent a message to the author, but thought I would also mention it here.)
    Kkachi from Seoul

  3. Tsk. I hope they correct it.

  4. There is no error. It is simply a run-on sentence that goes from discussing Korean to discussing Mongolian with only a comma to separate the two topics. The confusion probably arises from the puzzle of which topic the “it” in the following sentence refers to.

  5. Here is the original sentence:
    Korean currently uses Western punctuation and, like Classical Chinese, the traditional Mongolian language employed no punctuation at all. But now as it uses the Cyrillic alphabet, its punctuations are similar, if not identical, to Russian.
    Where is the run-on? Do you mean the writer changed topic with the word “like”?
    P.S. If it is a run-on sentence, how is there “no error”, as you’ve said?

  6. The traditional Mongolian language is subject of the second half of the sentence starting from and. Therefore, like compares the traditional Mongolian language to Classical Chinese.
    In Dutch we would never use punctuation (interpunctie) in plural though.

  7. Bertil is right, the “it” refers to Mongolian — but the sentence is very poorly written. And “punctuations” is definitely odd in English too.

  8. Thank you for the explanation. The sentence appears at the end of a section about East Asian (Japanese and Chinese) punctuation. Maybe my confusion comes because I would not expect Mongolia to show up in a discussion of East Asia.

  9. now as it uses the Cyrillic alphabet
    There seems to be a confusion between “the Mongolian language” and “the official system of the Mongolian state”.
    As far as I know, and for obvious political reasons, the Mongolian minority in China (Menggu zu) uses the traditional writing system (there is one ethnic minority that uses the Cyrillic alphabet though: Russians, aka Eluosi zu).

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