This Question Was Asked: “Is any Korean literature (written in Hangul) written without punctuation (such as without spaces) or written vertically? If so, what time periods? Does it go as late as the 20th century like this?”

Most things written in Hangul do not have punctuation. The Korean Bible I use everyday doesn’t have any punctuation. They don’t need punctuation to communicate in Korean like we need it in English. You see, often the punctuation is actually written into a verb ending in Korean. If you see a sentence that ends with 가 (ka), that is a question. However, it is according to the level of speech whether you use the 가 ending or some other ending. If a sentence ends with 라 (ra), often it is a command, either that, or it just means that someone is speaking from a really high place to a lower station in life. 나 (na) can also be for a question. 니 (nee) is also a very informal ending for a question. 라고 (ra-go) is a kind of quotation mark you put after what they said and before the verb. These are ones I thought of right off the top of my head, but there are more.

Many Koreans don’t use punctuation because in Korean they just don’t need it. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here are some from a grammar book we have on our shelf: 거든 (keo-dun) or 거든요 (keo-dun-yo) is like “you know.” It is something they use if they are trying to show off their knowledge. 군요 (goon-yo) is like an exclamation point. You say it if you are surprised. 네요 (ne-yo) is also like an exclamation point. It is more casual than 군요. 냐 (nya) is used like a question mark. 냐 고 (nya-go) is used like a quotation mark with a question mark. 가요 (ka-yo) is used like a question mark. It is used formally with strangers. 데요 (de-yo), if you use it inside the sentence, is a conjunction, but if you use it at the end of the sentence, you are stating a fact. You may be using it to be hard on someone and snap them back into reality. 지 요 (jee-yo) is a kind of a tag question like “isn’t it?”. That means when you see it, in English, it would have a question mark after it. Here are some really formal ones: 습니까 (sub-nee-ggah) is a formal verb ending that means there is a question. 십시요 (ship-shee-yo) is a formal verb ending that requests someone to do something. 십 시 다 (ship-shee-da) is another formal verb ending that states something.

If literature is considered a piece of art, it may be printed from top to bottom instead of from left to right. Photo by Retha Ferguson on Pexels.com

There are so many verb endings in Korean. They really don’t need our punctuation. However, several of the modern books have added our punctuation. As for whether it is written from left to right or top to bottom, most things are written from left to right. However, if a book is considered “artsy,” it may be written from top to bottom. Koreans always use spaces except for between the post position particle and the word it is related to. Older literature is more likely to not have punctuation, but some modern literature also doesn’t use it because they just don’t need it. It has appeared because of the influence of English.

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