For example, consider the following sentence:


For those who are unfamiliar with biology, he/she may not know if 高爾基體 should be understood as (高爾)(基體) or (高爾基)(體)。Two avoid confusion, it makes perfect sense to use 專名號 and write the sentence as

大多數真核細胞有高爾基體。(With 高爾基 underlined, I am not sure how to type the underline here.)

Will this not be a good practice?

  • "I am not sure how to type the underline here." That's why (at least partly). We can't input it, so we can't use it. Now people have gotten used to not using it. – Betty Apr 13 at 4:46
  • 其实我一直觉得,为什么英文里写书名不用个类似书名号的东西,虽然英语里可以用斜体表示书名,但是在纯文本格式的文件里(比如txt)也显示不出来斜体啊…… – Zhang Apr 13 at 8:09
  1. Proper name marks have largely fallen into disuse. That is because typesetting is difficult (as evidenced by your question) and that the text marked is usually understood by context.


  2. Your concern for clarity is valid. But using proper name marks may cause further confusion in the case of eponyms. A Golgi apparatus does not carry any material attribute of its discoverer. Logically, it is just an organelle that just so happens to be discovered by Golgi. We all have Golgi apparatuses – what does Golgi (the person) have to do materially with our Golgi apparatuses? That is also probably why certain eponyms are no longer capitalised in English: e.g., abelian, newtonian, quixotic etc. Therefore, if you indiscriminately underline 高爾基, it may appear to some people that you are implying the apparatus belongs to Golgi (linguistically, attributive instead of genitive), much like 高爾基的帽子 (Golgi's hat).

  3. I believe using parentheses also achieves clarity and is much more convenient (and commonplace) than using proper name marks.

    大多數真核細胞有高爾基體(Golgi apparatus)。

    范德華力(van der Waals force)是一種電性引力,但它比化學鍵或共價鍵弱得多。

  4. I however agree that proper name marks may be useful in the context of classical Chinese, especially when annotating names of people and states. We may not have enough historical knowledge to parse the sentence correctly. For example, you need to be very familiar with the given name of Confucius (丘) to parse the following without the help of proper name marks:


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