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。? Are There Rules. Are There Rules?

xminus1

Sempai
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Hello:

I thought I remembered reading early on in my textbook that Japanese doesn't use a question mark, but this same textbook has lots of examples where a question mark is in fact used.

For instance, in one recent exercise I've come across these two sentences:

レポートはもう出来ましたか。​
疲れたね。ちょっと休まない?​
I could deduce that if there's a か the question mark is unnecessary, but is this true?

Thanks!
 

Buntaro

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I believe the question mark originated in western culture, not in China, and has only 'recently' been adopted into the Japanese and Chinese writing systems. I don't think the 'Japanese language writing system' as it existed in Japan 800 years ago used question marks. As you have mentioned, the Japanese "ka" and Chinese "ma" already allow the reader to know when certain sentences are in fact questions, and these question marks are merely repetitions of previously-positioned "ka" and "ma".
 
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Toritoribe

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Hello:

I thought I remembered reading early on in my textbook that Japanese doesn't use a question mark, but this same textbook has lots of examples where a question mark is in fact used.

For instance, in one recent exercise I've come across these two sentences:

レポートはもう出来ましたか。​
疲れたね。ちょっと休まない?​
I could deduce that if there's a か the question mark is unnecessary, but is this true?

Thanks!
か is not used only in questions. For instance, レポートはもう出来ましたか。 can express the speaker's discouragement/disappointment with a falling intonation.
e.g.
そうですか。レポートはもう出来ましたか。新しい資料が見つかったので参考にしてもらおうと思って持ってきたんですが、遅すぎましたね。

Similarly, ちょっと休まない can clearly show that it's a question in an appropriate context even without a question mark.
e.g.
「疲れたね。ちょっと休まない。」
「そうだね。のども乾いたしね。」

cf.
「疲れたね。ちょっと休まない。」
「ううん、頂上に着くまでは休まない。」
(The context clearly shows that the last one is not a question.)

In conclusion, the context is the key, as always. If the writer thinks it's confusing, and feels that it's better to put a question mark at the end of the sentence, it's added.
 

TGI-ECT

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I hope I'll be excused for adding an odd element to this thread, but this is an absolutely outstanding thread for highlighting one important rationale for this website.

Please accept my apology for going off-topic. Sometimes I can't control my two index fingers.

No question marks needed in this post.
 
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bentenmusume

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It's worth noting too that many other punctuation marks really have no set rules on usage in Japanese. For example, commas often trip native English speakers up because they expect them to break up separate clauses, where in Japanese a comma can basically be used anywhere to indicate a pause in speech.

Quotation marks are also used very, very often to indicate emphasis. Sometimes you see this in English, too, but while it's very, very wrong in English, it's acceptable and even fairly standard in Japanese.
 
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