“This was a brilliant innovation,”
October 23, 2015 5:47 PM   Subscribe

Unfinished story… [The Guardian]

Cambridge academic Dr Anne Toner believes this 1588 edition of Roman dramatist Terence’s Andria is the first time the ellipsis appeared in print in English.

From the article:
“There is no play printed before Kyffin’s Andria and listed in WW Greg’s Bibliography of English Printed Drama that marks unfinished sentences in this way. This is not to say that these were the first ellipses in English print. There are appearances of the mark earlier in the 1580s. Henry Woudhuysen has identified dashes in letters printed in 1580 and 1585, where in both cases the mark occurs as part of an informal, conversational style.” But drama was “especially important” in the evolution of the ellipsis, according to Toner, being the literary form “that is connected in the most concentrated way with speech as it is spoken”. And after its appearance in the 1588 Andria, the punctuation mark quickly caught on.
posted by Fizz (4 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I tend to use them a lot...
posted by jim in austin at 6:14 PM on October 23, 2015

Ford said that the writers were aiming to capture “the sort of indefiniteness that is characteristic of all human conversations, and particularly of all English conversations, that are almost always conducted entirely by means of allusions and unfinished sentences”.
Rather loquacious way of saying, "They didn't want to get sued."
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:27 PM on October 23, 2015

Is this where I post about my misheard lyrics to that famously elliptical Police song, De Do Do Do De Dot Dot Dot...?
posted by googly at 7:05 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Given England's highly advanced libel laws, it makes sense that the ellipsis was invented there.
posted by acb at 5:07 PM on October 24, 2015

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