Should You Type Space After Comma? and Tiny Space Bar on Japanese Keyboards

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .
Apple keyboard Japan
Apple keyboard Japan. Notice the space bar, span about only 3 key spaces. On English Apple keyboard, it spans 5 to 6. 〔➤see Apple Keyboards ⌨

Is Space After Comma Inefficient?

In Chinese or Japanese language, space is rarely used. This is quite interesting linguistically.

For example of Chinese, here's the opening passage of the classic Chinese epic novel 西游记 (Journey To The West):


The gap after punctuation is part of the punctuation character.

It's interesting because it's a more efficient syntax. In English, why should you type a space after comma? It's redundant. The comma character itself serves the purpose of pause, and the space or gap serves no semantic purpose, but presentation. The comma character should contain a trailing gap itself, or, the rendering system should automatically render a gap after it. Same with exclamation !, question mark ?, period ., although the period is abused for many purposes.

You could write a program to convert English punctuation to the equivalent Chinese version,and rid of extra space。For example,this very sentence you are reading,is using Chinese punctuation and there's no space character after comma or period。The problem with this is that it goes against convention,and you'll encounter many little problems。For example,search engine might get confused。

Here's a emacs lisp code that lets you convert. Emacs Lisp: Convert Punctuation Between English/Chinese Forms

Similarly, in programing language, often you have style guides on whether to add a space. For example: x=3+4 vs x = 3 + 4, {7,9,10} vs {7, 9, 10}. Software should automatically render the space.

Tiny Space Bar on Japanese Keyboards

Because {Chinese, Japanese} don't use space character much, as a interesting consequence, on Japanese keyboards, the Space bar is tiny.

japanese keyboard
“Japanese USB wired PC keyboard” amazon
Japanese keyboards 93624
Japanese keyboards. image source 2304×1728
Japanese keyboard layout
Japanese keyboard layout. image source

the interesting thing about this is that, standard PC keyboard's huge Space bar is really a waste of space. It should be split into at least 3, for {⌫ Backspace, Return ↩, Space}. (the Japanese keyboard breaks it into 4.)

Keyboard Designed with Short Space Bar

Here's a example of a keyboard designed with short space bar, yet isn't Japanese layout.

filco majestouch minila keyboard 89676
Filco Majestouch Minila. (Cherry MX Brown switch) Filco Majestouch Minila

For more keyboards with short space bar, see:

See also: Keyboards without Numeric Keypad.

thanks to Jaehyun Yeom for telling me that Korean do use space a lot.

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