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https://www.duolingo.com/Nadya222

"To punctuate or not to punctuate," -- that is the question.

Nadya222
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So, OK. Enough of Hamlet, already! But, we all know that this is a "sticking point" --this punctuation thing--when going from Spanish to English.

I could have left it, here, as an open-ended question; but, instead, I made the rather onerous decision to share, with the community, my observations, over the course of frequently having had to decide whether or not to retain the "minimalist" manner (which I find rather glib--even though it is most-often not so, in reality) of authors, in the punctuating of their thoughts, in written Spanish.

At long length, I came to the following conclusion, which fits my own personal style, as an old-school grammarian:

WHEN IN DOUBT, PUNCTUATE (stated as a personal maxim)

(Pssst! Did you notice the punctuation mark, right after the word "doubt", above? Does it make "sense", to you, to read it that way? It does? Great!)

Oddly, I had always come to the "early conclusion" that something had to have been seriously "missing", in the "enseƱanza" [viz., "education"] of my South American friends--(never mind their "educaciĆ³n" [viz., social graces], or lack thereof)--in my sometimes-frequent, sometimes-infrequent dialogs, with them. It seemed that either I was "always missing the point", or--God forbid--it was they who were continuously 'fouling up', in the written way in which they expressed themselves.

Neither case was true, after all!

We, in [traditional, old-school] English seem to have a love-hate relationship, with Punctuation: we either loved it (in school), or we hated it: or we ignored it, almost altogether, which is worse! But, I LOVED it! I am a "great fan of" English Punctuation. It has been a long time, since I agonized over the placing of this or that punctuation mark, in either writing or in translating what somebody 'else' had written:

I just plug that thing right into the socket and "light 'er up"!

Spanish can be so...er..."mundano", in its written way of expressing itself. And, of course, without much punctuation, I just don't see how they can even understand each other! (But, it has to do with syntax, [for them], after all is said and done.)

So, in the meantime, while still improving my understanding of "the Lincoln logs of Spanish" (vis-a-vis, their syntax which obviates the need for tons of punctuation), I will continue to gleefully add those TONS of punctuation marks, when going from their own ho-hum style, back into English. Just remember this: if your goal is to produce a result that doesn't have to be read more than once, in order to "get" what the author is trying to say, then...

WHEN IN DOUBT, PUNCTUATE!

(And, yes, I will sometimes edit others' work, for proper punctuation: when the meaning changes, without it. After all, what is an editor for, if not for his/her love of "language as the 'prima facie' conveyor of intent and meaning", to the reader!)

PEOPLE! Please do not try to pick the lint off of a perfectly adequate suit coat! (If "necessary punctuation" is missing, though, I--for one--say, "add it in, with a polite note, explaining your reasoning for doing so".)

Or, in the spirit of the late General George Patton--

PUNCTUATE, PUNCTUATE, PUNCTUATE

...(but, please don't beat that dead horse to death!) (And, please no critique of my ideas, here: they are entirely mine, and as such, you are invited to "show a little respect", in your dealings with others.)

4 years ago

2 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Klgregonis
Klgregonis
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Thanks. I like your comments about being able to read the final result without scratching one's head about the meaning. There is some controversy about "proper" punctuation in English as well. My tendency is to use it both when "required by the rules" and when I need to express nuance in a sentence that can change meaning with different emphases. This includes breaking a very long Spanish sentence into two or more English sentences if the English result would be run on or hard to understand.

I do recall, when in college, asking two English major friends to edit something for me, and coming up with contradictory recommendations for punctuation, based on different interpretations of punctuation rules, so - when in doubt, punctuate. Too much is easier to understand than too little.

By the way, I appreciate such "picky" edits, as long as there is an explanation and credit is shared, because the back and forth editing is part of the process, and because I am not free of typos.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vwlj
vwlj
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"Eats, shoots and leaves" (great book by Lynne Truss) vs Eats shoots and leaves. Punctuation matters!

4 years ago