Take the 2-minute tour ×
Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This might sound like a strange question, but how does the usage of commas differ when used in Japanese compared to English?

I believe りんご、オレンジとバナナ wouldn't work, but that it's OK to list like りんご、オレンジ、バナナ or りんご、オレンジ、またはバナナ. When should りんごとオレンジとバナナ and similar be used instead of commas or vice-versa?

I've heard that going e.g. 分かりにくくて、読みたくない with i-adjectives isn't correct but 分かりにくいし、読みたくない and 分かりにくく、読みたくない is. I'm guessing it's OK to go 簡単で、特に問題はない and 簡単し、特に問題はない right?

Additionally, what is the meaning of 、。 at the end of a sentence, e.g. 気にしてなかったけど、。? I think it might have some kind of emotive effect, so I think I'd translate it as "I didn't really care though" (for emphasis.) I might translate 、。 as "I'm flustered that..." in some other contexts but I'm not sure.

share|improve this question
2  
All interesting questions. More generally, I have always wondered what the fundamental usage differences between Western and Japanese comma/full-stop might be (I suspect they are more different than it seems). –  Dave Nov 23 '11 at 7:43
    
It's also worth mentioning that the story is not completely black and white in English; elocutionary grammar was until relatively recently the accepted way to punctuate, and it resembles Japanese punctuation in intent much more so than the 'logical punctuation' now taught in the US. –  Trevor Alexander Jan 11 at 23:01

2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The symbol “、” is called [読点]{とうてん}. It is used to denote a semantic separation or a pause. Compared to comma in English, the usage of 読点 in Japanese is less governed by the grammatical rules. In other words, in Japanese, the author is free to use or not to use 読点 in any place where a separation makes sense.

When two nouns are placed side by side without any particle, a 読点 is almost necessary.

I believe りんご、オレンジとバナナ wouldn't work, but that it's OK to list like りんご、オレンジ、バナナ or りんご、オレンジ、またはバナナ. When should りんごとオレンジとバナナ and similar be used instead of commas or vice-versa?

You are required to put a 読点 between two nouns placed side by side. You are free to put 読点 after particle と or before adverb または.

I've heard that going e.g. 分かりにくくて、読みたくない with i-adjectives isn't correct but 分かりにくいし、読みたくない and 分かりにくく、読みたくない is. I'm guessing it's OK to go 簡単で、特に問題はない and 簡単し、特に問題はない right?

There is no verb 簡単する, and therefore 簡単し is ungrammatical. Maybe you meant “簡単だし、特に問題はない.”

All of “分かりにくくて、読みたくない,” “分かりにくいし、読みたくない,” “分かりにくく、読みたくない,” “簡単で、特に問題はない,” and “簡単だし、特に問題はない” are grammatical. In these examples, you can also omit the 読点. However, depending on the rest of the sentence, omitting the 読点 in “簡単で、特に問題はない” or “簡単だし、特に問題はない” may make the sentence harder to read because it connects two descriptions (簡単だ and 特に問題はない) of different length.

Additionally, what is the meaning of 、。 at the end of a sentence, e.g. 気にしてなかったけど、。?

The combination “、。” is incorrect in the standard orthography in Japanese. Some people make a nonstandard use of three 読点 (、、、) in place of 三点リーダー (…), which is used in the same way as the ellipsis in English. I would interpret “、。” as “…。” if anyone uses the former.

share|improve this answer
2  
Also check out this answer + comments: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/3373/531 for a bit more on commas in the context of lists in particular –  Matt Nov 24 '11 at 0:35

Another way of describing a list is using 中点 "・".

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.