The ideographic space (https://unicode-table.com/en/3000/) is used in one copy of the CUV Bible but not in another. Does its presence affect how it's read aloud? If the ideographic space is used simply for word grouping and not as an honorific, does that change whether it's "pronounced" as a pause?

Example in John 1:1 CUV:


太初有道,道与 神同在,道就是 神。

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_punctuation#Punctuation_marks Under "Spacing":

When a space is used, it is also fullwidth (U+3000 IDEOGRAPHIC SPACE). One instance of its usage is as an honorific marker. A modern example in 20th century Taiwan, is found in the reference to Chiang Kai-shek as 先總統 蔣公 (Former President, Lord Chiang), in which the preceding space serves as an honorific marker for 蔣公. This use is also still current in very formal letters or other old-style documents,[7] as well as religious scripture.

http://gniw.ca/cjk-honorific-fullwidth-space.php says:

it is (obviously) not pronounced

but I don't know if they're just making a mild joke about spaces not making actual sounds, or if there really is no pause.

Google's TTS does not have a pause: https://translate.google.com/?sl=zh-CN&tl=en&text=%E5%A4%AA%E5%88%9D%E6%9C%89%E9%81%93%EF%BC%8C%E9%81%93%E4%B8%8E%E7%A5%9E%E5%90%8C%E5%9C%A8%EF%BC%8C%E9%81%93%E5%B0%B1%E6%98%AF%E7%A5%9E%E3%80%82%0A%E5%A4%AA%E5%88%9D%E6%9C%89%E9%81%93%EF%BC%8C%E9%81%93%E4%B8%8E%E3%80%80%E7%A5%9E%E5%90%8C%E5%9C%A8%EF%BC%8C%E9%81%93%E5%B0%B1%E6%98%AF%E3%80%80%E7%A5%9E%E3%80%82&op=translate

Microsoft's TTS does have a pause (if you scroll to the section "Try Text to Speech with this demo app, built on our JavaScript SDK" you can compare the outputs from the text above): https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/products/cognitive-services/text-to-speech/#features

  • As a native Chinese, I have never seen this "the honorific space" before.
    – fefe
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 1:07

1 Answer 1


Honorific space only appears in old texts. Traditionally Chinese is written from top to bottom. Not having anything above you signifies your importance. It used to be that you need to start a new line to show that. Using a space is a kind of compromise since it's hard to read when part of a sentence gets moved to the next line.

In text written horizontally, it doesn't make much sense. Perhaps that is why we don't see it often nowadays.

When read aloud, the space is ignored. You read normally, as though the space is not there.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.