How does Arabic & Hebrew manage to be understood when written without punctuation?

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Until recently, I wasn’t aware that Arabic & Hebrew both rarely (if ever) used punctuation. How do sentences manage to not run into each other? Apparently its usage is a more modern occurence.

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8 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Punctuation was invented to tell the reader when to pause it was a method to make text read more like speech you will note that this comment is written without any punctuation but it is still entirely readable albeit a tad confusing to your brain that is used to it

All written languages had to develop had to develop punctuation at some point Arabic and Hebrew are old enough languages that they largely predate the invention of punctuation

Anonymous 0 Comments

think about trying to write english without any punctuation if your sentences use a certain structure then it will actually be quite easy to understand even without periods or commas its only with more complicated structures that you need punctuation to delineate between clauses and my understanding is that arabics structure is more rigid to the point that unlike english there is no concern about clauses being ambiguous

(paragraph above written with no punctuation for effect)

Anonymous 0 Comments

Punctuation can sometimes be inferred by context it might be harder to read but its still possible in fact some languages didnotevenhavespacingbetweenwords.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I recommend reading the book “Blindness” by Jose Saramago. It’s not without punctuation, but it does not use standard English punctuation conventions and specifically doesn’t denote speech. I didn’t even notice because the speaker was so clear from the prose. Punctuation is like subtitles on your own language when the accent is hard. If things are said clearly, the punctuation is unnecessary, but where there is potential ambiguity in what is written, we rely on punctuation to tell us which way to read it. I used a lot of commas in the preceding sentences but if I took them out you would still understand it. Just like you understood that last comma free sentence which technically required them.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Like other people have said, English also used to not have punctuation. It’s why reading was a true skill. One could discern where a word had ended, and start the next one. People who were able to read held a stylus in their hand to mark the exact letter they were on, so that they didn’t lose their place.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Context clues basically. Once you hear the sentence, it makes sense where any punctuation should be. Let’s use an example from english to show how a fluent speaker can figure out what stuff is supposed to be without even getting all of it.

I was driving down the road the other day when I saw a billboard advertising for a local internet provider (you can tell by the logo). In huge letters it says INTERNET, and then two smaller words I couldn’t see well from a distance, and then in huge letters again SPEED OF LIGHT. Now if your brain quickly filled in the two missing words as “at the” to make the phrase INTERNET at the SPEED OF LIGHT then you would be correct. Congratulations, your brain filled in the words from context correctly, because those are the only two words that made sense to go there. Similarly, context clues in non-romance languages can tell you a lot about what each bit is supposed to be. Another example is Kanji, which can be entirely contextual ( it changes meaning based on the other Kanji near it).

Anonymous 0 Comments

Some languages don’t even have spaces separating the words. You’d be surprised at the amount of things that aren’t technically necessary in a writing system.

That’s not to say the same thing would work in English, because every language and writing system is different. In a language like Chinese, each character represents a unit of meaning, and “words” are usually only one or two characters long. No real need for spaces.

As for punctuation, there’s no real punctuation when you talk, is there? The “punctuation” is implied by how your tone of voice changes and where you pause, but people don’t always pause between sentences when speaking, either. So really, our brains can actually figure out where “punctuation” goes without it being written down. You’re just not used to it.

Some languages may have a structure that makes punctuation even less necessary. I’m not familiar enough with Arabic and Hebrew, but for example, many languages have the verb at the end of the sentence. So when you read a verb, you can assume that the sentence is over, even if there’s no period.

Anonymous 0 Comments

No punctuation?  Does it have whitespace?