Attention: This site looks better in the latest Mozilla or Internet Explorer.

The Humanities Conference 2003

Home | Newsletter | Call for Papers | Register

Presentation Details

 Download: Poster | Brochure 1 | Brochure 2    

(Dis)Connecting the Dots: The Rhetoric of Ellipses

Jane Lasarenko.

Online communication via e-mail and chat has become one of the primary forms of interaction for students and educators worldwide. For linguists and other language professionals, these two forums have provided a unique view into language and usage development. Over the past decade, many scholars have examined online communications and have noted the increasing use of graphical elements in text, focusing primarily on the new emoticons that have become commonplace in Internet communication. Most recently, David Crystal has surveyed some of the conventions of online communication, noting that they show language expanding richly in all sorts of directions. Rhetoricians have also examined Internet-based language use, particularly in MUDs and chatrooms, concluding that the medium reflects its status as not-quite-speech and not-quite-writing; that is, the conventions work to mimic the immediacy of speech and conversation. While certainly true, none of the research has addressed how these graphic elements have evolved and are becoming increasingly codified nor, far more important, how they are used rhetorically.

This paper examines one graphical element that has become commonplace _ the ellipses. Specifically, the paper examines the myriad rhetorical functions served by ellipses in internet communication, from its inception to its current forms. Detailed examinations of both the length of the ellipses and their rhetorical functions indicate that more than simply mimicking speech, internet text tries to mimic thought.


Jane Lasarenko  (United States)
Assistant Professor
Department of English Slippery Rock University

  • Linguistics
  • Internet
  • Computers and writing
  • Ellipses
  • Graphic elements in text

(30 min Conference Paper, English)