Re: Ellipsis

From: Jukka K. Korpela (
Date: Sat Jan 21 2006 - 02:40:24 CST

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    On Fri, 20 Jan 2006, Guy Steele wrote:

    > The Chicago Manual is quite clear in stating that when there are four dots
    > they consist of a sentence-ending full stop followed by an an ellipsis.
    > Note in this case that, as usual, no space precedes the full stop:

    In the three-or-four dot method, it makes a distinction between three dots
    (which "indicate an omission within a quoted sentence") and four dots
    (which "mark the omission of one or more sentences"), in clause 11.57.
    It adds that in the latter, "the first dot it a true period - that is,
    there is no space between it and the preceding word".

    In the "rigorous method", described in 11.62 through 11.65, the first dot
    among four dots is preceded by a space and the last dot "serves as the
    true period", if the last part of a quoted sentence is omitted.

    This, however, apparently deals with spacing _around_ the four dots
    combination. What seems evident to me is that in both methods, when four
    dots are used, they should be equally spaced from each other and identical
    to each other. Admittedly this is not mentioned explicitly, but it is
    implicit in the idea of "four dots" - as opposite to referring to
    (three-dot) ellipsis and a full stop.

    Thus, I would conclude that if the three-dot ellipsis is regarded as a
    punctuation character that is justified on its own, not just included for
    compatibility with other character codes, then so would be the four-dot
    ellipsis. What we personally think about a particular usage should be
    immaterial; it should suffice that the usage exists.

    The question is how a four-dot ellipsis could be represented in Unicode in
    plain text. Using a horizontal ellipsis and a full stop, in either order,
    would not be satisfactory (even in practice, since both the spacing and
    the appearance of the dots could be quite unsuitable), so it would be
    better to use just four full stop characters, "....". I don't find it
    consistent at all to have a separate character for three-dot ellipsis but
    not for a four-dot ellipsis, _except_ if the three-dot ellipsis is
    regarded as included _only_ for compatibility with other character codes.

    The Unicode standard says (in 2.3):
    "Compatibility characters are those that would not have been encoded
    except for compatibility and round-trip convertibility with other
    We can take this position strictly and therefore regard HORIZONTAL
    ELLIPSIS as included for such reasons only. But that would be somewhat
    inconvenient position, since there is seldom any good way way to create
    spaced ellipsis dots except by using the HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS character.

    Jukka "Yucca" Korpela,

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