Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Using the Ellipsis and Brackets (Part 2 of 2)

Think of brackets [ ] as clarifiers. You use them in two ways. First, you substitute words and put them within the brackets to make clear to readers what you mean and that you modified the original statement.

* "Although my favorite author [Edgar Allan Poe], is best known for his dark poems and short stories," Marnie wrote in her report. The original sentence began "Although my favorite author, he is . . ."

* "Then [Jesus] told them a story: "A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops . . ." (Luke 12:16, New Living Translation). The translation reads, "Then he told . . ."

Second, you point out a linguistic irregularity, spelling error, or grammatical mistake you want to correct when you quote. When you change a quotation you follow the irregularity with the Latin sic in brackets to indicate the questionable words. Sic means "intentionally so written," and grammarians have used it for more than 150 years.

* "None of the students [sic] in my class complained," the teacher wrote to the school board. Her original sentence began: None of the twenty-seven, multi-cultural children and seven teens in my class . . .

* "I don't want anything [sic] except justice," the old man wrote in pencil on lined paper. He wrote, "I don't want nothing," and the brackets corrected his grammar.

I use brackets to clarify meanings. 
They are not substitutes for parentheses.

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