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Ellipsis

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Ellipsis

Postby Enigma » Sun Feb 07, 2010 6:48 pm

There exist corresponding criteria for distinguishing between various forms of ellipsis. Strict ellipsis, for instance, is surely grammatical, but situational ellipsis need not be.

Consider these and tell me if you think each of the following is restricted to vernacular English or appropriate in all contexts, formal or informal. () represents the ellipted words:

a) It sounds the same, only () not spelled the same.

b) I wasn't considering other possibilites, () just deciding between the ones presented.

c) When () walking home, I noticed a group of adults playing on the playground.

d) We sat under cover, () angry and upset when the fireworks ceased

e) Although () angry and tired, I still managed to say my speech in class.

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One of the criteria to distinguish strict ellipsis from other forms is that the missing expression is precisely recoverable. Do you know of any other criteria, and what did you consider to comment on the above sentences?
What you see, yet can not see over, is as good as infinite. ~Thomas Carlyle
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Postby saparris » Tue Feb 09, 2010 6:05 pm

There exist corresponding criteria for distinguishing between various forms of ellipsis. Strict ellipsis, for instance, is surely grammatical, but situational ellipsis need not be.

Consider these and tell me if you think each of the following is restricted to vernacular English or appropriate in all contexts, formal or informal. () represents the ellipted words:


a) It sounds the same, only () not spelled the same.
I would consider this to be ungrammatical in any formal sense.

b) I wasn't considering other possibilites, () just deciding between the ones presented.
I think this is grammatical and would therefore say or write it. However, I would spell possibilities correctly (ha ha).

c) When () walking home, I noticed a group of adults playing on the playground.
This is grammatically correct but certainly not socially acceptable. The nerve of them!

d) We sat under cover, () angry and upset when the fireworks ceased
This is an awkward sentence. Did we remain under cover and become angry and upset because the fireworks had ceased? Or did we become angry when the fireworks ceased and then sit down? And what exactly is under cover? Are we in a bed or under a tent?

There are semantic and tense issues here that are confusing. To understand whether the ellipsis works, we need to get rid of the other problems first.

e) Although () angry and tired, I still managed to say my speech in class.
This sentence is fine.

-------
My comments are based on both clarity and grammatical correctness.
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Postby Enigma » Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:08 pm

a) It sounds the same, only () not spelled the same.
I would consider this to be ungrammatical in any formal sense.


Here, I paraphrased a famous quote from the movie 'Green Mile,' in which one man said "The name's Cofee, like the drink, only not spelled the same.".

b) I wasn't considering other possibilites, () just deciding between the ones presented.
I think this is grammatical and would therefore say or write it. However, I would spell possibilities correctly (ha ha).


I wonder if the meaning would change if we left out the adverb 'just.' To me, it would then mean I wasn't deciding or considering. Who would've thought an adverb could completely alter the intended meaning?

d) We sat under cover, () angry and upset when the fireworks ceased
This is an awkward sentence. Did we remain under cover and become angry and upset because the fireworks had ceased? Or did we become angry when the fireworks ceased and then sit down? And what exactly is under cover? Are we in a bed or under a tent?

There are semantic and tense issues here that are confusing. To understand whether the ellipsis works, we need to get rid of the other problems first.


I agree there are semantic issues, but I don't think there are tense issues.

'angry and upset...' is a verbless clause, which always takes on the implied subject/tense from the main clause:

We sat under cover, (and we sat/were) angry and upset when the fireworks ceased.
What you see, yet can not see over, is as good as infinite. ~Thomas Carlyle
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Postby saparris » Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:31 am

We sat under cover, () angry and upset when the fireworks ceased.


I still think there are tense issues.

Sitting can occur in a moment or over a period of time (e.g., I sat down when he asked me to vs. I sat and watched television instead of doing something useful).

The cessation of fireworks can only occur at a given moment.

The way the sentence is written, we could have been sitting when the fireworks ceased, or we could have sat down after they ceased. The clarity of the sentence requires us to know whether the sitting was a momentary or a continuous activity. We cannot know this unless the sitting and the cessation are expressed with different tenses, like past and past perfect, or unless the sentence is rewritten to remove the confusion.
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Postby Enigma » Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:53 am

saparris wrote:
We sat under cover, () angry and upset when the fireworks ceased.


I still think there are tense issues.

Sitting can occur in a moment or over a period of time (e.g., I sat down when he asked me to vs. I sat and watched television instead of doing something useful).

The cessation of fireworks can only occur at a given moment.

The way the sentence is written, we could have been sitting when the fireworks ceased, or we could have sat down after they ceased. The clarity of the sentence requires us to know whether the sitting was a momentary or a continuous activity. We cannot know this unless the sitting and the cessation are expressed with different tenses, like past and past perfect, or unless the sentence is rewritten to remove the confusion.


OK, I see the ambiguity. It stems from the relationship between both the verb sit and the advberial clause. I wasn't considering this relationship when creating these examples; Instead, I was thinking about the verbless clause and its relationship with the main clause (a relationship I still see has no ambiguity for the reason I mentioned in the previous post) since the topic is about ellipsis. But of course, we can't ignore the blatant ambiguity.

Unfortunately, I just had to run into a stickler for tense consistency. When parsed, it is clear you're right. Take a bow and be gone. :)
Last edited by Enigma on Wed Feb 10, 2010 7:44 am, edited 2 times in total.
What you see, yet can not see over, is as good as infinite. ~Thomas Carlyle
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Postby Enigma » Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:04 am

Image
What you see, yet can not see over, is as good as infinite. ~Thomas Carlyle
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Postby saparris » Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:00 am

Take a bow and be gone.


I'll take a red one to match my shoes.
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Postby Audiendus » Sun Feb 21, 2010 2:57 pm

Enigma wrote:When parsed, it is clear you're right.

Spot the grammatical error in the above sentence. :)
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Postby Enigma » Sun Feb 21, 2010 7:15 pm

Audiendus wrote:
Enigma wrote:When parsed, it is clear you're right.

Spot the grammatical error in the above sentence. :)


Dangling modifier
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Postby saparris » Sun Feb 21, 2010 7:17 pm

Dangling modifier


Speaking of dangling, you should be hanged at dawn.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:05 pm

Why wait that long?
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Postby Enigma » Tue Mar 09, 2010 8:50 pm

Because I haven't had a shower yet. I'd hate to be hanged not looking my best.
What you see, yet can not see over, is as good as infinite. ~Thomas Carlyle
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