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Punctuation refers to the specific markings, signs and symbols that are used in and around sentences to give them structure and to allow for correct understanding and comprehension.
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[Lat.,=point], the use of special signs in writing to clarify how words are used; the term also refers to the signs themselves. In every language, besides the sounds of the words that are strung together there are other features, such as tone, accent, and pauses, that are equally significant (see grammargrammar,
description of the structure of a language, consisting of the sounds (see phonology); the meaningful combinations of these sounds into words or parts of words, called morphemes; and the arrangement of the morphemes into phrases and sentences, called syntax.
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 and phoneticsphonetics
, study of the sounds of languages from three basic points of view. Phonetics studies speech sounds according to their production in the vocal organs (articulatory phonetics), their physical properties (acoustic phonetics), or their effect on the ear (auditory
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). In English, stress, pausing, and tonal changes interlock in a set of patterns often called intonations. Such features are represented by punctuation, indicated by signs inserted usually between words, and often following the feature they mark.

The intonations of declaration are classified in three types, symbolized by the comma (,), used to separate words or phrases for clarity; the semicolon (;), used to mark separation between elements in a series of related phrases, generally in a long sentence; and the full stop, or period (.), used to mark the end of a sentence. Other intonations are shown by the exclamation point (!); the interrogation point, or question mark (?); the parenthesis [( )], used to set off a word or phrase from a sentence that is complete without it; and the colon (:), typically used to introduce material that elaborates on what has already been said. Quotation marks (" ") indicate direct quotation or some borrowing, and usually demand special intonation. The ellipsis (…) is used to indicate the place in a passage where material has been omitted or a thought has trailed off. The long dash (—) is especially used in handwriting for incomplete intonation patterns.

Punctuation of material intended to be read silently rather than aloud—the far more usual case today—has introduced refinements designed to help the reader: brackets ([ ]), a secondary parenthesis; capital letters; paragraphing; and indentation. Two other frequent signs are the apostrophe ('), marking an omission of one or two letters, or a possessive case, and the hyphen (-), marking a line division or an intimate joining, as in compound words. These last two are practically extra letters, and their use, belonging with spelling rather than with punctuation, is highly arbitrary.

Each written language has its tradition of punctuation, often very different from that used in English; thus, in German nouns are capitalized, and in Spanish the beginnings of exclamations and of questions are marked with inverted signs. See also accentaccent,
in speech, emphasis given a particular sound, called prosodic systems in linguistics. There are three basic accentual methods: stress, tone, and length. In English each word has at least one primary stressed syllable, as in weath`er;
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See W. D. Drake, The Way to Punctuate (1971); Words into Type (3d ed. 1974); D. Hacker, A Writer's Reference (4th ed. 1999); Univ. of Chicago Press, The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed. 2003).



a system of punctuation marks in any written language and the rules for their use; the placement of these marks in a text; a basic element of written language, along with graphics and orthography. The punctuation systems of modern languages written in the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Indian, and many other alphabets are based on uniform principles and use approximately the same set of punctuation marks.

The theoretical bases of Russian punctuation were developed by V. K. Trediakovskii, M. V. Lomonosov, and grammarians of the 19th and 20th centuries. Several different trends developed in the interpretation on the bases of Russian punctuation: the logical (F. I. Buslaev, S. I. Abakumov, A. B. Shapiro), the syntactic (la. K. Grot), and the intonational (L. V. Shcherba, L. A. Bulakhovskii, A. M. Peshkovskii). The logical school believed that punctuation aids in setting forth thoughts clearly and expresses the speaker’s feelings and his attitude toward the listener. According to the syntactic school, punctuation indicates a greater or lesser degree of linkage between sentences and sentence parts and aids in the comprehension of written language. The intonational school held that punctuation served to designate the rhythm and melody of a phrase; it regarded punctuation as primarily reflecting not a grammatical but a declamational and psychological segmentation of speech, including pauses, melody, and tempo.


Grot, la. K. Russkoepravopisanie,22nd ed. Moscow, 1916.
Peshkovskii, A. M. Shkol’naia i nauchnaia grammalika,5th ed. Moscow, 1925.
Shapiro, A. B. Osnovy russkoipunktuatsii. Moscow, 1955.
Abakumov, S. I. Metodikapunktuatsii, 4th ed. Moscow, 1954.


References in periodicals archive ?
Myung Mi Kim's employment of punctuational poetics interrogates how language, mathematics, and the logics of equivalence are complicit in processes of subjection.
A careful analysis, however, reveals that authors regularly use two types of markup in their manuscripts: punctuational, for example, placing periods at ends of sentences; and presentational, for example, numbering pages.
The finding that periods of exogenous shock increased the rates of multiple transformations for all organizations provides important support for punctuational models of population change (Tushman and Romanelli, 1985; Tushman and Anderson, 1986).
So colors here are punctuational, marking the boundaries between forms.
In this short poem by Creeley, we observed a series of pacing devices, which we may term the phonological, punctuational, syntactical, rhetorical, and finally semantic.
It is presented in a dozen different line-order versions, all of which rhyme and all of which (with the help of punctuational changes) make at least some sense, but only eight of which are end-to-end palindromes.
Conclusions did not change qualitatively when a punctuational model of evolutionary change was assumed (i.
Allmon (1994), taking a more punctuational view, speculates that escalation is shaped by differential speciation rates among variously armored species within a clade (see also Roy 1994).
5) Cummings is the unparalleled poet of parentheses, and the parentheses are for Cummings an extraordinarily prized poetic device, granting us a unique test case of punctuational appropriation.
Except for any other punctuational adjustments which may seem necessary or desirable, your HeptCat Perspicuous Palindrome will now be complete.
The method used here assumes a punctuational model of evolution, with all character changes at speciation events, because ancestral reconstructions are not weighted by branch lengths (Martins and Garland 1991).