Tuesday, May 03, 2011


edit*ELLIPSIS   \i-ˈlip-səs, e-\   plural el·lip·ses

1 a : the omission of one or more words that are obviously understood but that must be supplied to make a construction grammatically complete

b : a sudden leap from one topic to another

2 : marks or a mark (as …) indicating an omission (as of words) or a pause

*source: Merriam Webster 

If something doesn’t happen soon to end the tide of grammatical madness I may lose what is left of my mind.  I was reading the newspaper today (I’m talking to YOU, Boston Herald), and saw three instances on a two page spread of misused ellipses.  Rupert Murdoch, take heed… somebody needs to be told… or fired.

I am as guilty as anyone of over-using the ellipses in my casual writing.  We have become fond of the punctuation as a way of indicating a pause. Overly fond, one can argue, but using ellipses to indicate a pause in thought or rhythm is, technically, correct.  That our current culture, which is so dominated by social media and informal written exchange has informed the literary culture is fine.  But come ON!

Three little periods in a row: ---> … <---

Can’t we all get on board with that?  Just type three… not four, not five, not a long row across the page.  It’s bad enough I am subjected to this stuff on twitter and facebook. I think we should all have permission to stomp around on Shrunk and White when we’re messaging our peeps out in the interwebosphere.  But my daily newspaper needs to maintain some kind of standard… doesn’t it?

1 comments ]:[ Add your comment:

Alan Ryker said...

I uses ellipses to show a trailing off, often a thought left unfinished, but not because of an interruption.

I use em-dashes to show a sudden cutting off because of interruption, or a longer than a comma pause, or to surround an interrupting thought.

From what I can tell, the rules aren't super set in stone, but I do think it's important that a writer consistently follow at least their own rules.

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