Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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ABATE Kassahun, Mekelle University, Ethiopia

This study looks into trends in Tigrinya punctuation, which, in large part, is Ethiopic but has adopted several marks as some Ethiopic marks ceased to be used, while others continue to have restricted functions. In so doing, it assesses the challenges and differences in using punctuation marks in Tigrinya. For this purpose, ten Tigrinya published materials (textbooks, books, newspapers, and proceedings) had been selected purposefully, and a text analysis has been employed in an attempt to identify the names, number, use as well as possible trends. A critical look into the selected materials shows a continued use of both Ethiopic and English punctuation as well as an influence of the latter over the years. Though the Ethiopic marks are often aligned with similar ones in English, such correspondence often leads to needless usage and/or inappropriate use owing to differences in versatility of the pair of marks and the languages, in general. Problems that are attributed to lack of knowledge and guidelines for punctuation include inconsistency within and across texts, misuse, disuse, and underuse of marks. Such problems are coupled with and/or made worse by renewed desire to use Ethiopic marks in the face of the influence of Western practices as well as current trends in writing such as text messaging. Given the importance of this orthographic aspect in structuring and fully understanding written language as well as the prevailing problems, it is imperative to specify the marks to be used along with their functions and roles and take measures to diffuse such knowledge in all levels of education.