Looking at the overlooked: A corpora study of punctuation use in Russian and English1
This study was designed to analyze the comparative use of punctuation marks in Russian and English newspaper editorials. The study was conducted using corpora of English-language editorials, taken from the New York Times in 2005, and of Russian-language editorials, taken from Izvestiia in the same year. Results indicated that the comma, colon, and the em-dash were used more often in the Russian corpus. The difference was determined to be statistically significant. The author then compared these results to the results of punctuation use in corpora of Russian and English literary texts. Again these punctuation marks were used more frequently in the Russian literary corpus than in the English one. At the same time, in both the Russian and English literary corpora these marks were used much more frequently than in the corpora of Russian and English editorials. In the second part of the article, the author attempts to isolate the reasons for the discrepancy in use of the colon by examining rules for its use as elaborated in authoritative Russian and English style guides. On the basis of this, the author suggests guidelines for the translation of the colon into English.