[LMB] dots before my eyes
john.c.lennard at gmail.com
Mon Sep 28 18:52:26 BST 2015
Lois: Should I tediously restore all those fracking pointless periods, to
avert the OCD grammarians of the future who will be jumping on this (and
me), or not? Half the function of this whole exercise is to
bullet-proof my prose against that sort of fiddly crit, once and for
all. So it should.
John: Fred's and Anne's views notwithstanding, that's a no.
Outside Pinter and Beckett, there is no conventional four-dot ellipsis, and
when four dots do occur it should be within quotations, the FIRST of them
being a full-stop and the ellipsis (traditionally but foolishly) not being
The usage of a trailing (terminal) ellipsis with a following full-stop,
though hardly unknown, is profoundly illogical : such an ellipsis indicates
grammatical incompletion, a full-stop grammatical completion.
The distinction between an ellipsis within a sentence, and a sentence that
ends in an ellipsis but is followed within the same paragraph by a further
sentence, is properly conventionally indicated by space.
Changing 'blah ... Blah' to 'blah ... Blah' or even 'blah ... Blah'
(while leaving 'blah ... blah' alone) could not be done as a 'Change All'
command on global search and replace, but it could be done using 'Find
Next' and eyeballing each instance ; and as there probably are not that
many, it would not take as long as one might fear, however dull in the
doing. (Nor should a double space cause any undue problems with a
reflowable file, though a triple one might.)
Alternatively, (1) politely tell the test reader that s/he is mistaken to
believe the usage erroneous, and point out (heh) that (a) local grammar
will often indicate whether a new sentence has begun, allowing the reader
to judge the likelihood of a typo, and (b) that to suppose that multiple
instances within a work, where grammar is correct and a distinction is
being consistently observed, are all typos is actually quite rude, as well
as misguided ; and (2) let posterity look to itself, especially when OCD.
John Lennard, MA DPhil. (Oxon.), MA (WU)
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