Err … what is it called again? It’s a … an ellipsis.
Ellipsis ( … )
The three dots ( … ) is known as ellipsis. It is used to quote materials and to indicate hesitation or a pause in writer’s thought.
When used to quote materials, ellipsis is to show you’ve omitted words from the original sentence, but do not change the meanings.
Police said that two people had been killed by rebels … .
(The Nation, Bangkok, Wednesday 4 December 1991)
When used to indicate a pause:
“Dear boy you’re so tall … look behind and see if there’s anything coming…”
–F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise
Ann: Would you like a cup of tea?
Dan: Yes, I would.
Omitting part of sentences and referring to the earlier sentence/ context to make the meaning clear is also called ellipsis. We do not need to provide substitute words or phrases which have already been said. In the previous dialogue, instead of saying, “Yes, I would like a cup of tea.” we can just say “Yes, I would.” We omit some words because “Yes, I would.” will be understood.
According to Nunan (1993), as cohesive devices there are three types of ellipsis: nominal, verbal, and clausal. Following are examples of each type. The material that has been omitted is indicated with (0).
- Nominal ellipsis:
Don and Dan like football. Both (0) are great football players.
- Verbal ellipsis
A: Are you a student?
B: Yes, I am (0).
- Clausal ellipsis
A: Why don’t you bring a camera? Dan said that we are going to shoot a film, didn’t he?
B: Did he? He didn’t tell me(0).
Many experts, however, agree that there are nine types of ellipsis: gapping, stripping, VP- ellipsis, pseudogapping, answer fragments, sluicing, N-ellipsis, comparative deletion, and null complement.
Yes … it is quite confusing when it comes to linguistics. But if you need further explanation about the ellipsis (linguistics), you can find out in any books with words ‘discourse analysis.’
I hope this #EngTrivia will develop your background knowledge that is available when you later will be studying linguistics in university.
Reference: Nunan, D. 1993. Introducing Discourse Analysis. London: Penguin Books Ltd.