Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Phonetic Punctuation

Having recently taught a Writing Course, i have realised that although most students know the basics of punctuation (i.e. the full stop/period and the comma) they don't know much more than that. And they do struggle with the exact and proper use of the punctuation they do know.

With that in mind, said mind somehow dragged from it's depths a once seen, and undeniably fantastic, comedy sketch from the Danish comic, Victor Borge. 

In it he says that we have punctuation marks to underline and emphasise what we write, but not what we say. He goes on to say that we should have phonetic punctuation that we can add to our speech to make what we are saying that little bit clearer.

He goes through the various sounds of said punctuation marks and then reads a story, inserting the phonetic punctuation where it should be.

I have uploaded the edited video, both on YouTube and to download (the audio is also available to download). I have also created a worksheet with the text of the story, without punctuation marks. All the students have to do is watch/listen and insert the punctuation marks in the correct places. Don't worry, I have provided the answers on a separate sheet, just to make your life easier. For the explanation of what sounds each punctuation mark makes, watch the first part of the video or, for a lower level class, have them look at the Phonetic Punctuation Key PPT for a clearer explanation.


Or, if you would prefer;

And for the worksheet's and answers;

For a simple, illustrated walk through of the sounds of each punctuation mark;


  1. This is great, Matt, and so helpful. Thank you very much.
    I was thinking of preparing a transcript myself, but you have so kindly done it for us.
    It is much appreciated.
    Michaela Segol
    P.S. You may be interested to hear that Victor Borge was in fact Danish...

  2. Ah yes, I think I knew he was Danish, not sure why I put Hungarian. I'm in the process of changing it now.

    Glad you liked my little resource and that it could come in handy. Let me know if you use it in a class, I haven't had a chance yet and would love to know how it pans out.