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Thread: English punctuation

  1. #1
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    English punctuation

    Does anyone know what it was about; who did it, and why?
    Why are commas put in such a way?
    In general, what are main differences between English and Russian punctuation?
    Answer in Russian if possible, please.

  2. #2
    Завсегдатай rockzmom's Avatar
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    Marcus,

    I don't know Russian so I'll let someone like Croc or Robin answer your question; however, I do have a graphic that might help you out about the importance of serial comas:

    http://i.imgur.com/5MniD.jpg

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    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
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    Yummy! =:^)

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    Завсегдатай sperk's Avatar
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    A good text will provide you with extensive technical descriptions of similarities and differences which are way beyond the scope of forum help.
    Your example: "Does anyone know what it was about; who did it, and why?" The semi-colon shows a big shift or contrast, from "what" to "who." The comma shows a lesser shift, moving the focus from "who" to "why" (that person's motives.) There may be "rules" but a sense of rhythm and contrast are what's important.
    Кому - нары, кому - Канары.

  5. #5
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    In Russian there is only one correct variant of this sentence: Кто-нибудь знает, о чём это (буквально), кто это сделал и зачем?
    "о чём это" is probably wrong о чём идёт речь или что случилось.
    There may be "rules" but a sense of rhythm and contrast are what's important.
    May be "rules"?! Is English punctuation studied at school? When we had written works in Russian we got marks for both spelling and punctuation. One spelling mistake was usually accounted as two punctuation. We studied punctuation rules during all the school process. At the fifth grade we had a half a year general course of Russian syntax and punctuation, we learnt syntax (and rules of punctuation, of course) of simple sentence at the eighth grade and syntax of complex sentence at the ninth grade.

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    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    Primarily English has rules about where not to put a comma. Many people will put a comma before "and" in an enumeration, but it is not mandatory. It is, however, mandatory to use one in an enumeration where there is no "and" or "or", as in the list on the magazine front page; the woman in question finds inspiration in a) cooking, b) her family and c) her dog, not in cooking (her family and her dog), which is very much a one-time inspiration.
    Спасибо за исправления!

    Вам нравится этот форум, и вы изучаете немецкий язык? Вот похожий форум о немецком языке.

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    Завсегдатай sperk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    In Russian there is only one correct variant of this sentence

    May be "rules"?! Is English punctuation studied at school?
    English allows for some user discretion. While the original is correct you can also write:
    Does anyone know what it was about; who did it and why?
    Does anyone know what it was about, who did it, and why? (a bit awkward)
    Does anyone know what it was about, who did it and why?
    A strict grammarian could probably find fault with some of that but they read fine to me.
    Кому - нары, кому - Канары.

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    I've heard German punctuation is similar to Russian. Is it true?

  9. #9
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    I don't understand how commas are used in Russian.
    It seems to be a formal / spelling related matter, rather than splitting up the sentence to make it easier to read and more logical (that's the purpose of commas in English).

    I can't say for sure about German, but I think the rules are more similar to English than to Russian.

    But like I said earlier, for me, this is not a priority in my Russian studies at the moment.

  10. #10
    Hanna
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    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker View Post
    Primarily English has rules about where not to put a comma. Many people will put a comma before "and" in an enumeration, but it is not mandatory.
    Actually, I thought you should ideally NOT put a comma before "and".... Isn't that the rule?
    In Swedish it is, anyway.

  11. #11
    Старший оракул
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    Actually, I thought you should ideally NOT put a comma before "and".... Isn't that the rule?
    In Swedish it is, anyway.
    It is in Russian. Or so I was taught at school. I don't think it is in English, and I like it. Now I often indulge myself putting this comma in when I write in English.

  12. #12
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    It seems to be a formal / spelling related matter, rather than splitting up the sentence to make it easier to read and more logical (that's the purpose of commas in English).
    What is "spelling related"? Russian punctuation is strictly connected to syntax. For example, if a spread atribute is placed before the noun it is referred, it is not separated by a comma, but in the opposite case it is.
    Живущие здесь люди очень дружелюбны. Люди, живущие здесь, очень дружелюбны.
    Punctuation can tell you a lot about the structure of a sentence. It is sometimes necessary because of free word order.

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    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    I've heard German punctuation is similar to Russian. Is it true?
    Yes, insofar as there are specific rules about where to put a comma. But the rules are not the same. The most obvious difference to me, as far as punctuation in general is concerned, is the totally different usage of the hyphen. You cannot use it as a direct speech makrer in German, and it is no stand-in for a missing form of "to be".
    Спасибо за исправления!

    Вам нравится этот форум, и вы изучаете немецкий язык? Вот похожий форум о немецком языке.

  14. #14
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    But the rules are not the same.
    Естественно, не могут они быть одинаковыми. Но общий принцип строгости пунктуации в немецком сохраняется, а не, как в английском, кто, как хочет, так и пишет.

  15. #15
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    But the rules are not the same.
    Естественно, не могут они быть одинаковыми. Но общий принцип строгости пунктуации в немецком сохраняется, а не, как в английском, кто, как хочет, так и пишет.

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    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
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    This is what I would use:
    what it was about, who did it, and why?

    Yes, when you have a list A, B, and C you need all commas. See Strunk & White.

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    Завсегдатай rockzmom's Avatar
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    These sources are in English; however, it might be of help to everyone as they cover many rules and have examples of both correct an incorrect usage. It is from Purdue University:

    Commas: Quick Rules
    Extended Rules for Commas
    Commas After Introductions
    Commas vs. Semicolons
    Commas with Nonessential Elements
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  18. #18
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    Thank you, rockzmom. These rules seem vague to me sometimes.
    The baby wearing a yellow jumpsuit is my niece.
    Professor Benson, grinning from ear to ear, announced that the exam would be tomorrow.
    The only difference I see is that the participle in the first sentence is an atribute while that in the second is a modifier.

    .

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    In Russian there is only one correct variant of this sentence: Кто-нибудь знает, о чём это (буквально), кто это сделал и зачем?
    "о чём это" is probably wrong о чём идёт речь или что случилось.


    May be "rules"?! Is English punctuation studied at school? When we had written works in Russian we got marks for both spelling and punctuation. One spelling mistake was usually accounted as two punctuation. We studied punctuation rules during all the school process. At the fifth grade we had a half a year general course of Russian syntax and punctuation, we learnt syntax (and rules of punctuation, of course) of simple sentence at the eighth grade and syntax of complex sentence at the ninth grade.
    Это сделало меня хихикать. Это правда! Наши школы не так строго, я думаю .. =) Если я правильно понимаю, 'давным-давно' когда-то были объективные правила о пунктуации в английском языке. Но много вещи изменил эти правила в течение времени. Произведения искусства и литературы смел нарушать правила. И осколки разбитых правила стали новые правила.

    В качестве примера: "Run-on" предложение на английском языке грамматические ошибки. Но это не имеет объективного определения. Как многие понятия делится на слово "и" должно быть разрешено? Что собственно? Один человек "run-on" Приговор может быть совершенно правильные грамматики другого человека. Хотя человек может найти правила для использования с запятой, в реальном мире он найдет, что авторы используют их почти всякий раз, когда они хотят. (Что касается меня, я большой поклонник запятой; в большинстве случаев, что кто-то хочет больше остановки, чем запятая, но меньше, чем период, точка с запятой работает хорошо.) Большая часть Дать Толкиена использует очень длинные предложения, многие разногласия между многими понятиями . Современные "грамматникс*", вероятно, хотели назвать некоторые из его работ "run-on". И это только маленький пример.

    * As far as I know, the word "grammatniks" is entirely invented by me. =)
    NB: My Russian is probably terrible, and I'm sorry. Some of the things I wanted to talk about are above my skills with Russian. Will do better next time ><

    PPS - response to Chaika
    Quote Originally Posted by chaika View Post
    This is what I would use:
    what it was about, who did it, and why?

    Yes, when you have a list A, B, and C you need all commas. See Strunk & White.
    Chaika, the difference I see between: "1. What was it about; who did it, and why?" and "2. What was it about, who did it, and why?" is like this (at least in my mind):
    class A:
    a = what.was.it.about;
    b = who.did.it;
    c = why;
    class B("what was it about"):
    a = who.did.it;
    c = why;

    The semi-colon (imVho) seems to denote that the concepts following it would be a part of the aforementioned, similar to the grocery-list ";" writing seen by Tolkien and similar. (Maybe it's relegated to the period of time in which he wrote, but he's the best example of this sort of writing I can conjure offhand).
    Last edited by kidkboom; April 29th, 2011 at 12:44 AM. Reason: giving a proper quote to chaika's text
    luck/life/kidkboom
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  20. #20
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    Ваш русский вполне можно понять. Если трудно по-русски, можно и по-английски.

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