Julia GrahamJulia Graham
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Can punctuation make a big difference?

Punpunctuation saves livesctuation refers to the different signs used in written speech to identify different kind of pauses and intonation in a text. It is paramount to convey the right meaning and making the text understandable. Could you imagine a text without any punctuation marks? It would almost impossible to understand it. Using them randomly leads to misunderstanding the text and consequently the wrong translation.

It is especially important to pay attention to punctuation when translating. Unclear instructions on the use of mechanical equipment, or on medication instructions, could lead to fatal consequences. It is essential that ambiguous sentences are clarified through the right use of punctuation marks. Missing or overused punctuation marks can change meaning and/or confuse the reader.

Fortunately, most of the time, poor use of punctuation creates amusement. Here are some examples:

Let’s eat grandpa” versus “Let’s eat, grandpa”. I’m sure they didn’t want to encourage cannibalism.

“I like cooking my family and my friends” versus “I like cooking, my family, and my friends”. Another example of how commas can save lives.

An English professor wrote the words: ‘A woman without her man is nothing’ on the chalkboard and asked his students to punctuate it correctly. All of the males in the class wrote: ‘A woman, without her man, is nothing.’ All the females in the class wrote: ‘A woman: without her, man is nothing.’ Punctuation is a powerful tool to convey meaning.



La puntuación se refiere a los signos que utilizados en el discurso escrito para identificar diferentes tipos de pausas y entonación en un texto. Son esenciales para transmitir el significado correcto y hacer que el texto sea comprensible. ¿Podrías imaginarte un texto sin signos de puntuación? Sería casi imposible de entender. Utilizarlos al azar da lugar a malentendidos y, consecuentemente, lleva a una traducción errónea.

Es especialmente importante prestar atención a la puntuación a la hora de traducir. Instrucciones confusas en el uso de equipamiento mecánico o instrucciones de medicación pueden tener consecuencias desastrosas. Es esencial que las oraciones ambiguas se aclaren mediante el uso apropiado de los signos de puntuación. La ausencia de puntuación o su uso al azar puede alterar el significado y/o confundir al lector.

Afortunadamente, la mayoría de las veces, el mal uso de la puntuación crea diversión. He aquí algunos ejemplos:

Vamos a comer niños” en comparación con “Vamos a comer, niños”. Seguro que no pretendían incitar al canibalismo.

“No tenga piedad” en comparación con “No, tenga piedad”. Otro ejemplo de cómo una coma puede salvar vidas.

Un profesor de inglés escribió en la pizarra ‘A woman without her man is nothing’ (Una mujer sin su hombre es nada) y le pidió a sus alumnos que escribieran signos de puntuación correctamente. Todos los varones escribieron: “A woman, without her man, is nothing” (Una mujer, sin su hombre, es nada). Todas las mujeres escribieron: “A woman: without her, man is nothing” (Una mujer: sin ella, el hombre es nada). La puntuación es un arma poderosa para transmitir el significado.

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About Julia Graham

I have a BA in French from Swansea University and spent a year in Toulouse studying at the Université de Toulouse. It’s no surprise that I also love languages! I also speak Welsh as my second language ? I am considered the office organiser as I love to keep things just so and I am also considered to be very much a perfectionist – I fit right in with my fellow language geeks. Every day is fascinating and I love working as part of our team, we are well known for being friendly and of course, we know what we are talking about.

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