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I've seen these comma-like marks above kanji/kana in Japanese novels a few times, but I have no idea what they're called or their purpose:

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I tried looking online and I haven't found anything (it's pretty hard to find out when I don't even know what they're called).

I've seen them appear in various contexts before, once I saw it in a novel where the speaker was announcing someone's name (in a formal setting), another time I saw it in a different novel when the speaker was in despair and they were talking about giving up on everything.

I'm very curious about this, can anyone explain what these marks are?

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  • I don't think this question has already been answered. The previous question was asking about " ・” in the right side of vertical writings. However, in this question, they are horizontal writing and the mark is "、" . This mark seems extraordinary weird for a native Japanese speaker.
    – user1118
    Aug 9, 2017 at 6:21

1 Answer 1

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I don't know what they are called, someone else can answer to that. But those marks are for emphasis. It's the traditional equivalent of underlining, or bolding, or setting in italics. It can also be used in a situation where, in English, we might use an exclamation point (though those do exist in Japanese now).

If you wanted to look it up, I would suggest looking up something on emphasis and typesetting when printing material in Japanese.

So, in this case, it's like saying "They couldn't do it!"

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  • "、” is called 読点 of 句読点.
    – user1118
    Aug 9, 2017 at 6:27
  • ”・” is called 中点.
    – user1118
    Aug 9, 2017 at 6:30
  • I believe that 中点 is usually used for the emphasis. Using 読点 seems funny to me. Don't you think so?
    – user1118
    Aug 9, 2017 at 6:31

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