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1 Jun 2012

Punctuation in Translation: Full Stop

Molly O C Rowan

The full stop indicates the end of a sentence. Even when the grammar of a particular target language requires a different internal structure or phrasing than the source material, the full stop in translation most consistently matches the source. The full stop has different forms depending on the language:

In Korean and languages that use variants of the Latin alphabet, the full stop is realized as a period, a dot on the baseline (.) and is followed by one space per ISO standards. (The convention of two spaces after a full stop is a remnant of the days of typewriters and manual typesetting and is now considered an antiquated style.) This dot character is also used in mathematics, but its function varies by language; it can serve as either a decimal separator or digit group separator.

Chinese and Japanese both use an ideographic full stop (。), a small, empty circle instead of the solid dot. In Traditional Chinese fonts, the full stop falls on the midline, but in Simplified Chinese and Japanese fonts, the full stop sits on the baseline. This character does not require a space to follow it because the visual space is a part of the full-width form.

Because words are not separated by spaces, Thai simply uses a space to indicate the end of a sentence. Some languages that use the Devanagari script like Hindi use a vertical line (|) to indicate a full stop.

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