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Ellipsis - by SimonBob


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What's that ...? It's an ellipsis.

You wouldn't believe it, but everyone uses the ellipsis. It's a phenomenon which I choose to stipulate as universal. It appears in many RPGs, even Earthbound. But what does it mean?

I started my little exploration with the first game that I believe uses (or at least overuses) the ellipsis: Golgo 13. It was one of the most annoying things I'd ever seen in a video game, as these pictures demonstrate.

See that? The girl says a lot of stuff, and all Golgo ever does is uses an ellipsis. I chose to auralize it as a sort of low grunt or growl. Sort of a guttural variant on "hmmm."

Fast forward to 199X. The place: Eagleland. The phrase: "..." The meaning? Well, that's a different kettle of fish entirely.

I opened my handy-dandy EB Text Editor utility, something that's saved me many a time when I need to know exactly what someone says. I compiled some statistics, just to see how often the little bugger came up. Turns out we've got over 1000 occurences! Owwch! But most of the time, it's just being used to show when someone's voice is trailing off:

There are still occasions when it's used on its own, though:

So what can we make of this evidence? Ellipses are bigtime trouble, make no mistake. You don't wanna mess with one, because it's the kind of thing you might meet in a dark alley after a midnight coffee bender in Fourside. Between EB and other games (notably the Final Fantasy series) I've decided to characterize it as a cross between a sigh and a sort-of growling noise. Of course, we can't forget the occasional interesting usage, for example: "...?" or "...!" I explain these as unspeakable phrases, like "wtf?" or "omg!" Taken in this context, an ellipsis could perhaps be construed as swearing. So do everyone a favour, and say "@#$!" instead, just to make yourself clear.

Other Submissions by SimonBob

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