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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Subject: Well-known phrases
Question: What is it called when someone only uses part of a well-known phrase, assuming the reader/listener knows the rest of the phrase that has been omitted?

Example: Saying, ''She made her bed.'' instead of saying ''She made her bed, now she has to lie in it.''

Reply: This would be an example of ellipsis. This term describes the omission of “given” information, which in turn refers to knowledge assumed to be shared by participants in an exchange. “Given” information and its counterpart, “new” information, are also technical terms in linguistics.

Ellipsis contributes to discourse cohesion and economy in that it takes into account what participants know about the/their world, about each other, and about the context of the exchange itself.

Reply From: Madalena Cruz-Ferreira      click here to access email
Date: 15-Jan-2014
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Well-known phrases    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (15-Jan-2014)

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