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2 is the magic number
 
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post #370
bio: stu
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2/15/2012
14:00

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An Ellipsis in Time
Being a stickler for proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation is an exercise in futility on the Internet. There are simply just too many people out there who inexplicably believe they are capable of communicating via words while yet being functionally illiterate. 

This is why I no longer spend any time in the comments on general Internet sites. That alleviates a lot of the pain. If you limit your online social circle to your friends, suddenly almost everyone you interact with is a college grad, or at least a reasonably intelligent college dropout. It weeds out the vast majority of the ALL-CAPpers, all the worst spellers, and the people who learned how to read via text messages, leaving us with only the highest caliber of terrible writers. I'm not talking about typos. Everyone makes typos during the tens of thousands of words we type over the course of the day. There's a difference between screwing something up and being the type of person who is just screwed up.

These intermediate idiots can get close with their spelling, only mix up a couple of homophones here or there, and only use "lol" a couple too many times. There is, however, a terrible inexcusable thing that they almost all do to indicate that you can immediately discount what they say.

You will know them by their trail of ellipses.

I hate these people.

The overuse of ellipses is primarily irritating because those who overuse them think they're doing something smart. They don't realize they're making their post or comment clumsier and uglier. These people insert superfluous ellipses everywhere they would normally pause in conversation, forgetting that there are at least three other forms of punctuation for that purpose: the comma (for pauses inside sentences), the period (for the pause that accompanies the end of a sentence) and the carriage return (for the pause that accompanies the end of a group of sentences). These have been around for centuries.

Rather than putting an ellipsis in everywhere a pause would go, people should realize that an ellipsis is used for two basic purposes: to indicate where something is missing or removed, or to indicate that something has been left incomplete. The ellipsis in both cases indicates absence or elision. If you use them in text, you are letting everyone know that your sentences are as full of gaps and spaces as your argument.

Even more important is that ellipses are used in dialogue to denote trailing off. If you use a bunch of ellipses in a comment, all literate people are naturally going to read it as you repeatedly trailing off like an indecisive Valley girl.

An ellipsis does have a purpose. But make sure you know what that purpose is. If you're omitting something, or trailing off, well, then...

And don't even get me started on semicolons.

[Final note: I will undoubtedly have screwed something up somewhere along the way in this post. Muphry's Law demands it. You get no points for saying, "You spelled 'elision' wrong" or something like that. Also, if you comment with a lot of ellipses, we get it. You're a very funny man, Sully. That's why I'm going to kill you last.]






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