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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2022

Interpunktion in historischen Patientenbriefen

From the book Vergleichende Interpunktion – Comparative Punctuation

  • Franziska Eber-Hammerl


The following study shows that writers of psychiatric hospitals in the 19th and early 20th century use different punctuation depending on their occupations and also what kind of punctuation marks they use. The sample includes two groups with five writers each. The analysis concentrates on the way, how they use the twelve punctuation marks (. ; , : ? ! () „“ - - ... ’) in their official and private letters. The findings indicate that the less experienced writers (Group B) use more punctuation marks but less different ones than the more experienced writers (Group A) do. Furthermore, it is analysed if they alternate in their punctuation usage depending on the addressee, for example by writing private letters to their family and friends and official letters to superiors like the manager of the mental hospital. It can be observed that the writers use tendentially more punctuation marks in their official letters than in their private ones. In general, the female writers referenced in this study use quantitatively less punctuation marks. In return one female writer fromthe more experienced group uses all of the examined punctuation marks.

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