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Frequency distributions of punctuation marks in English: Evidence from large-scale corpora

  • Kun Sun and Rong Wang


The analysis of punctuation in philology is mainly carried out with a view to better understand the meaning of the literature concerned. Punctuation is generally believed to play the role of ‘assisting the written language in indicating those elements of speech that cannot be conveniently set down on paper: chiefly the pause, pitch and stress in speech’ (Markwardt, 1942: 156). Most of us often ignore the importance of punctuation in writing systems and tend to believe that punctuation only depends on tradition and the personal styles of writers. In fact, punctuation marks may contribute significantly to the clarity of expression. Many linguists associate punctuation with intonation, but the truth is more complex than that – punctuation marks may affect orthography, morphology, syntactic relations, semantic information, and can even influence textual structure.


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