Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What is this phenomenon called?

Is it common in all English-speaking countries?

share|improve this question
3  
This is a partial duplicate of english.stackexchange.com/questions/7257/… . –  Cerberus Mar 6 '11 at 0:42
add comment

2 Answers 2

The omission of conjunctions is officially called asyndeton. Greek deo = "to tie, to bind" (just like Latin iungo in conjunction); syn = "together (with)"; a = "non-". A syndeton is a conjunction; asyndeton is "non-conjunction". That is what the omission of conjunctions for rhetorical effect or otherwise has been called since Antiquity.

I believe it is quite common in most European languages, both in headlines for brevity and in literature as a figure of speech. It can also be a natural and quite neutral feature of ordinary texts, with hardly any special effect. You will find it in speech as well.

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 for dipping into that big grab-bag of rhetorical devices. I'll only add that according to Farnsworth, the connection of items "by commas alone may emphasize the relationships between them ... [and] create a sense of acceleration" suitable for a news headline. –  Robusto Mar 6 '11 at 2:30
1  
The use of commas in headlines to replace "and" is far more common in the US than the UK (though it is on the increase there too). I found it very confusing the first few times I came across it... –  psmears Mar 6 '11 at 10:03
add comment

Headlines, like speech, tweets, and book titles, are often not made of full, grammatical sentences. It's a method of saving space while retaining readability; the "and" is usually replaced by a comma, as in "Site Answers Questions about Cooking, English, Gaming".

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.