The architecture of writing systems
  • ISSN 1387-6732
  • E-ISSN: 1570-6001
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Punctuation systems are explained by three architectural designs in the pertinent literature. The first one is rooted in rhetoric and ties punctuation solely to intonation; the second is pluralistic and considers not only intonation but also style, semantics, and grammar, i.e. syntax. The third model links punctuation solely to grammar, i.e. syntax. These distinctions are meant to explain both typological and historical variation in punctuation systems. The different punctuation types are mainly distinguished by the comma or virgule, which, therefore, will be the main topic of this paper. Linguistic research has shifted its focus from rhetoric to grammar and consequently, modern comma systems, including those that were previously analyzed as intonation-driven, are explained in grammatical terms by an increasing number of researchers. However, there are only few studies dealing with historical punctuation from a grammatical perspective and no study which is based on a more extensive corpus analysis. This article will fill this gap by analyzing the use of the virgule in Matthew’s Gospel in Luther’s bible (1545). In order to capture the major and systematic uses of the comma or virgule as well as its minor and less systematic uses, we propose a layered multi-dimensional model. Keywords: architecture of punctuation; historical punctuation system; comma; virgule; typology


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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