What is the full form of FIG
As ellipse is called a stylistic device of rhetoric. The ellipse describes the fact that a sentence is grammatically incomplete and therefore shortened. Accordingly, unimportant parts of the sentence are omitted here in order to provide reinforcement, the content being clearly understood. The figure is typical for a quick battle of words (cf. Stichomythie) as well as brachylogy, which achieves the maximum expressiveness with a minimum of verbal use, and works by Sturm und Drang.
Term & examples
The term is derived from the Greek (ἔλλειψις ~ élleipsis) and roughly with Absence, defect or omission translate. Thus the translation already refers to what the stylistic figure is about: namely the omission [of sentence components]. Let's look at an example.
The above example is elliptical. The missing components are put in square brackets to make it clear that the sentence actually lacks the verb, i.e. the predicate. Still, the statement is The earlier you say goodbye, the shorter the agony accessible to the reader in terms of content. It is therefore clear what is meant, although a grammatical building block is missing. This fact is known as an ellipse.
The above example is an idiom, again putting the missing verb in brackets. Here, too, the statement is streamlined and the expression shortened. Such ellipses are typical not only for stylistic subtleties, but also for colloquial language in order to shorten the sentence. Thus, the important things are emphasized and the trappings are reduced. Another example.
In this example sentence Several words were even deleted. Nevertheless, the fundamental message of the sentence, that is, the question of what is to be done next, is clearly evident in each case; grammatically, however, the sentence remains incomplete. The following examples are uncommented.
You will find more examples below to clarify the principle. In most cases, the omissions are indicated by square brackets.
- [Is] anyone else [here] without a ticket?
- The faster [you are here] the better.
- [The] end [is] good, everything [is] good!
- Without an if and without a but.
- [I wish you a good morning!
- [Please excuse me!
Special shape of the ellipse: Aposiopesis
The aposiopesis is a special form of the ellipse. In this case, part of the sentence is also omitted. However, this is the essential message of the sentence. Nevertheless, the meaning of the sentence remains coherent and understandable for the recipient.
The aposiopesis is an intensification of expression, whereby the recipient of such a statement has to guess what is meant. The speaker either really lacks the words to complete the sentence or he just pretends to do so and trusts that the listener knows what is meant. Let's look at an example.
It is not said here what exactly will happen should the speaker actually get his hands on the addressee. Nevertheless, he can conclude that something unpleasant is about to happen. The sentence is incomplete, missing the most important thing. However, it is clear what is meant. Another example.
This example alludes to a famous climax of the Roman statesman Caesar. This should have said veni, vidi, vici, so I came, saw and conquered. The decisive element, i.e. victory, is missing in the sentence. The essential sentence statement is missing and the whole thing can be interpreted as an ellipse and aposiopesis.
Effect and function of the ellipse
Basically, it is very difficult to ascribe an effect or function to a stylistic device that appears to be applicable in every case. Nevertheless, every style figure naturally has an effect on the reader that can be described. Therefore we would like to give some information, which should always be checked in the respective text for correctness and applicability.
- The ellipse describes a sentence that is grammatically incomplete. Any component can be missing to be considered elliptical. If the essential statement of the sentence is missing, we are dealing with the special form of aposiopesis. But the ellipse is always understandable.
- The style figure is always used when something is shortened, i.e. shortened. In this way, the insignificant can take a back seat, while the most important things are in focus. However, ellipses can often be found in the press, as headlines are often shortened (Example: "We are Pope!", "I can be Chancellor!").
- The stylistic device is characteristic of dramatic and arduous verbal battles, which are intended to express excitement and passion. Furthermore, ellipses can be found in colloquial language, whereby they usually occur here as a shortened simplification of the language.
- The mission can appear hectic as well as agitated, which increases the informative value, since the focus is on the essentials. The ellipse is the concentration of feelings and language.
- Pleonasm can be seen as a stylistic counterpart. This figure gives information that is superfluous, whereas ellipses some words - sometimes also important - suppresses.
- Note: In narrative theory, the term also means something else. Information gaps are considered to be ellipses, whereby the narrator either intentionally or unintentionally withholds the information from the reader. This is particularly typical of the detective novel.
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