Thursday, February 15, 2007

ellipsis in weather bulletins

have you ever seen a weather bulletin and wondered why things are done in a certain way? probably not. but i'm going to talk about one of them anyhow.

the ellipsis, a series of dots, is used often in weather bulletins. most often, it is used in the place of a comma. to wit:

"AFTER SUNSET FRIDAY...TEMPERATURES WILL QUICKLY DROP. (...) DURING THE FREEZE PERIOD...TEMPERATURES MAY REMAIN BELOW 32 DEGREES FOR MORE THAN 8 HOURS."

the use of this is because, way back when, weather bulletins could not support commas. the comma was used as a special internal communications character (can't remember for what) and if you ever inserted one into your typing, you would mess up the bulletin.

the problem is, nowadays the comma is not used for internal purposes. but for some reason, many many many weather bulletins are written a) without commas where they are grammatically needed, and b) with ellipses in their stead.

i've likely used the ellipsis inappropriately, too, when writing up weather bulletins. i'm (among other things) a grammar geek (i know, i type in all lower case--that's beside the point) and as such, i cannot, in any good conscience, misuse ellipses like this anymore. if you catch me in such a misuse, please feel free to call me on it!

1 Comments:

At 9:25 PM, Anonymous Dsills said...

But Dave, I like using them. And I didn't know why until now! ;-)

 

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