9

From my experience, many languages with absolutely different alphabets colloquially use the same common punctuation marks, such as:

  • the question mark (?), for inquiring/interrogatives
  • exclamation mark (!), for excitement or emphasis
  • period (.), for declaration

For example, asking a question in a couple different languages:

  • What's your name?
  • Как тебя зовут?
  • ما اسمك؟
  • 您貴姓大名?

Or exclaiming something:

  • Cheers!
  • За здоровье!
  • Στην υγειά σου!
  • 乾杯!

How have these stayed in common usage throughout the evolution of languages and their alphabets? Were they standardized at some point?

14

They were standardized at some point, in the 19th-20th centuries, but many languages still keep their own ancient punctuation, e.g. the Armenian period is :, the Armenian question mark is ՞ which is put above the last vowel letter of the question word, the Greek question mark is ;, Spanish uses the upside-down question mark ¿ at the beginning of interrogative sentences (¿Qué? 'What?'), the same with the exclamation mark (¡Hola! 'Hi!'). Japanese has specific punctuation, the period is . Amharic keeps the ancient Ge'ez punctuation, but it gets outdated now and often substituted with the European-style one. Many Asian scripts of Indian origin, e.g. Javanese, still keep their traditional punctuation.

1

In Arabic and Chinese the use of Western-style punctuation is very modern, not before the 20th century.

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