The proper usage of commas?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by wegs, Jul 25, 2013.

  1. kwhilborn Banned Banned

    @ Wegs,

    You confused two issues.
    I said I was okay with ellipses being used for pauses. This is using an ellipse ... (note 3 periods is an ellipse)

    in earlier example Fraggle said some are now doing this.

    i.e. (This is just using one period between words).

    It was the second example I said seems like poor writing to me, and no samples were ever given of that except with what we wrote, although I guess it's just meant as a short ellipse

    The em dash, comma, and ellipse have all been shown here to record pauses.
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  3. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    okay, fair enough. i might have confused the two issues you both were discussing.

    but, in my example, 'wait. what did you say?' that would be an example of a period used for pause, and pause only.
    you might have used the period for pause in your lifetime yourself, and didn't realize it.

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    anyways, interesting points, all. thank you for contributing.
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  5. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I disagree - as I think all three are valid and which is most appropriate would depend on context.
    From just the punctuation, to me they imply slightly different things:
    A definite suprise at what someone had said, and a request for clarification. If they had heard but didn't believe then the "Wait!" could also be an instruction to other people to urgently stop what they're doing (for whatever reason).
    This suggests less of a surprise, and more a case of not hearing clearly.
    This is more a casual case - where the person maybe wasn't paying attention the first time.

    But there is no right or wrong answer - each I would say can be appropriate, depending on context.
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  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    That's so gracious of you.

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    "It's okay, everyone! Kwhilborn says he's okay with us using ellipses for pauses! That's a weight off our shoulders!"
    And you would still need to capitalise each word, as per normal to start a new sentence.

    No, it's not meant as a short ellipse.
    It's meant as a period after each word.
    It is not as though people said "I can't be arsed to put three dots after each word. So let's go with a shortened version... let's go with a full-stop instead!"
    The intention was to use a full-stop after each word.
    To emphasise each word being said.
    That was the intention, and that is what they do.
    Yet your initial example, where each word in a sentence was separated by a comma, has still not been accepted as ever being used nor as a recognised device.
    Merely hiding it within "... have all been shown here to record pauses" does not hide your initial error.
    The dirt is still under your carpet.
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Like your serial comma advice, which was bad, that reveals your background in technical writing and the associated style manuals. It's a fine adverb, and often employed to control tone and rythmn in literary writing.

    From the American Heritage Dictionary, Third edition: - - --- "after adv. 1. behind, in the rear 2. at a later or subsequent time; afterward: three hours after; departed shortly after - - - "

    As you know, that dictionary is a prescriptive one.

    When you have that kind of trouble placing a comma, you are probably not writing clearly to being with. The vagueness arrives with the word "place", which (because of the commas) tends to take the modification of "tenth" separately from "fourth" and "first", and momentarily confuse the reader.

    Maybe just move that word (and align the two orders) : Jane, Bob, and Nancy placed first, fourth, and tenth, respectively.
  9. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Ellipses are lazy.
    They are rarely appropriate, and don't convey the precise effect of good punctuation.
    The only elliptical pauses I will allow are on kittenses.
  10. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member


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    i use ellipses all the time...but only in texting and the net.
    i have no real reason to use them.
    in business/professional writing, i don't use ellipses.
    in my casual writing, like on here ...i use the ellipsis instead of a comma. lazy, i know.
    don't judge me.

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    more on ellipses:

    from wikipedia:

    It is used to build tension or show that the sentence has been left unfinished or unstarted.

    In the 19th and early 20th centuries, an ellipsis was often used when a writer intentionally omitted a specific proper noun, such as a location: "Jan was born on . . . Street in Warsaw."

    As commonly used, this juxtaposition of characters is referred to as "dots of ellipsis" in the English language.[citation needed]

    Occasionally, it would be used in pulp fiction and other works of early 20th-century fiction to denote expletives that would otherwise have been censored.[2]

    An ellipsis may also imply an unstated alternative indicated by context. For example, when Count Dracula says "I never drink . . . wine"; the implication is that he does drink something else.

    In reported speech, the ellipsis is sometimes used to represent an intentional silence, perhaps indicating irritation, dismay, shock or disgust.[citation needed]

    In poetry, this is used to highlight sarcasm or make the reader think about the last points in the poem.

    some of that might be redundant but...never knew it is used to highlight sarcasm in poetry. that's just one of those 'cool things to know,' i think.

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  11. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    You are right. That change reads so much better!

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  12. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    I use them myself, probably more than most people...............
    But they aren't good grammar.
  13. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    When I see sentence's wherein apostrophe's are used every word with a terminal s, becau'se the writer want's to cover hi's ass' so he doesnt miss' one he should have used; ha's no idea what it's purpose' wa's. (PS It holds the place of a letter or letters that have been omitted. Hardly rocket science.) Just like all the people - even writer's, god help us! - who cant figure out where to use I and me.
  14. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    I've honestly never heard of this type of thing...what??

    It's almost like an entirely different language.

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  15. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Yes, I can see that now; thanks!
    Depending on the context, any of them would be grammatically correct.
    I don't know why I sometimes see grammar as a cookie cutter/one size fits all type of thing.
    This thread will expand my horizons, so thanks all.

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  16. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Well, i was exaggerating. A bit. You must have seen signs like : "Cuke's $1" though. The kind of people who apostrophize plurals don't spell out cucumber and invariably say "veggie", because.... (No, wait. That could be because "vegetable" is too much work, but it might also be because the word vegetable has a connotation of seriousness, and uncute things are anathema in their world-view. Or maybe it's associated with emotional trauma from early childhood. I mustn't rush to judgment.)
    But I'm quite sure they say "It was a gift from Tom and I."
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2013
  17. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    The full text can be found here.

    Seriously, this ought to have been referenced long before post #36.
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The word is ellipsis. An ellipse is a geometrical form. Unfortunately the plural of both is spelled "ellipses." Even more unfortunately, the plurals are not pronounced the same.
    • "Ellipses," the plural of "ellipse," is pronounced ee-LIP-s'z.
    • "Ellipses," the plural of "ellipsis," is pronounced ee-LIP-seez.
    That's not how they do it. They write each word as a sentence, with each word capitalized and a space after each period: I. Am. Talking. Slowly. Here.

    To date, I have not yet seen this editor's nightmare used that way, or in fact in any way except the original, in the form:

    Superlative. Noun. "Ever."​

    For example:
    • Best. Taco. Ever.
    • Worst. Date. Ever.
    • Longest. Speech. Ever.
    • Dumbest. Sitcom. Ever.
    This is true when it is an elision of "is," as in "John's coming." But when it is the possessive inflection, it's quite a stretch to say that it represents the E in the genitive case form of nouns in Middle English. That grammatical paradigm began to vanish 700 years ago as Middle English evolved into Early Modern English!

    Today we write "horse's" instead of "horses" to distinguish the possessive from the plural.

    If you don't believe me, consider the plural possessive form: horses'. What missing letter, pray tell, does that apostrophe represent?

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    This is an example of overcorrection, a common linguistic phenomenon. Many (but not all) un- or under-educated people regard well-educated people as role models and try to speak like they do. They learn in school that "John and me are goin' fishin'" is supposed to be "John and I are going fishing." So they assume that "me" is never allowable after "and," as if "and" were a preposition instead of a conjunction. So they say "Just between you and I," assuming that they are now speaking like the rich city folks.

    This phenomenon occurs in various ways. People hear "drove" and "strove" as the past tense of "drive" and "strive," so they assume that the past tense of "dive" must be "dove." They've never heard of the difference between weak verbs (which form the past tense in -d and use the same form for the past participle: try/tried) and strong verbs (which form the past tense by umlauting the vowel and usually have a third form for the past participle with yet a different vowel and often a final -n: write/wrote/written).

    A new form of this phenomenon is the result of the slow universalization of literacy. People who are the first or second generation of their community to learn to read and write like to show the world that they can read, by pronouncing words as they are spelled. They don't realize that English spelling rivals French as the least phonetic form of alphabetic writing in the world--since neither has been reformed in hundreds of years, unlike most of the other important European languages that were overhauled in the late 19th century. So they pronounce the T in "often," which has been silent for centuries, and the first C in "arctic" which was never pronounced because it was already silent when we borrowed the word from the French!

    I'm waiting for the S in "island" to stop being silent. It has no claim to legitimacy at all: It was a lexicographer's error, an assumption that it was related to Norman French isle, from Latin insula. In fact it's from Anglo-Saxon eag-land, "land on the water."

    This phenomenon is not limited to English. Spanish spelling was overhauled fairly recently, but time marches on and the pronunciation of many words has changed slightly. In the word inmenso, meaning "immense," the N was once pronounced, but not for a long time. Yet in Mexico, which only recently began to transform itself into a middle-class country with universal literacy, the newly educated citizens carefully pronounce the N.

    Hey, goddess bless 'em. They've learned how to read and write, and this will help propel their benighted country into the 21st century. I'm not going to rag on 'em for a few pronunciation quirks. Especially since I live in a country where people almost come to blows over the difference between ah-pricot and ay-pricot -- the latter being dead wrong and only a fool would say it that way.

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    What's wrong with "veggie"? It's cute. Ain't nothin' wrong with cute! Adding a -y or -ie to the end of a word is a standard grammatical inflection in Modern English for forming a diminutive: pup/puppy, dad/daddy, horse/horsie, John/Johnny. If the word is long, we elide the last couple of syllables: Jacqueline/Jackie.

    We've had veggieburgers for decades, since the vegetarian movement became large enough to have economic clout and short-order cooks wanted their cash.

    I spoke to that one above. People don't understand the difference between a conjunction and a preposition.

    I don't know if these atrocities are also common in British English, but we Yanks are the same folks who coined "snuck" as the past tense of "sneak" (a form which to my knowledge has no precedent), and who, to this day, still insist on referring to the bison as a buffalo.

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