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Punctuation and paragraphing

Punctuation is a recent and modern development in writing and can, therefore, be considered a significant indicator of standardization in languages with a long written tradition. Punctuation includes "the use of spacing, conventional signs, and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and correct reading, both silently and aloud, of handwritten and printed texts" (Brown 1987:1006). The modern punctuation of all Western European languages stems from the practice of the great Italian and French printers of the 15th and 16th centuries (Ibid. p. 1007).

Like their European counterparts, languages using the Arabic script (including the Arabic language) did not use punctuation and paragraphing before the age of printing. For instance, a detailed Kurdish prose text written in 1858-¬59 (Bayazidi 1986) lacks punctuation, paragraphing and numbered pagination. Punctuation (including full stops, commas, exclamation and question marks) and paragraphing were apparently first introduced into written Kurdish through the journal Kurdistan in 1898. All the punctuation marks in Kurdish as well as in Arabic and Persian are borrowed from the European languages.


  1. Prof. A. Hassanpour, Nationalism and Language in Kurdistan 1918 - 1985, USA, 1992
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