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I had a question about the use of the bracketed ellipses with fragmented quotes. Below is an example from CMOS 16. Please refer to it. My question is at the bottom of this thread. I'm hoping you understand my question. Chicago doesn't address this usage.

Original Version: The spirit of our American radicalism is destructive and aimless: it is not loving; it has no ulterior and divine ends; but is destructive only out of hatred and selfishness. On the other side, the conservative party, composed of the most moderate, able, and cultivated part of the population, is timid, and merely defensive of property. It vindicates no right, it aspires to no real good, it brands no crime, it proposes no generous policy, it does not build, nor write, nor cherish the arts, nor foster religion, nor establish schools, nor encourage science, nor emancipate the slave, nor befriend the poor, or the Indian, or the immigrant. From neither party, when in power, has the world any benefit to expect in science, art, or humanity, at all commensurate with the resources of the nation.

Condensed Version: The spirit of our American radicalism is destructive and aimless [. . .]. On the other side, the conservative party [. . .] is timid, and merely defensive of property. [. . .] It does not build, nor write, nor cherish the arts, nor foster religion, nor establish schools.

My question is, if the sentence ends in a fragment, how do we employ the usage of the bracketed ellipsis in this case? I would be writing just one fragmented sentence. How would I end it with the bracketed ellipses?

It would be similar to this usage of the unbracketed ellipses, which would simply end with three spaced dots.

The spirit of American radicalism . . .

Using the bracketed ellipses in like manner, would it be

The spirit of our American radicalism [. . .]. [Full stop outside the ending bracket?]

The spirit of American radicalism [. . .] (No full stop outside the ending bracket?]

  • Were both the original and condensed versions provided in CMOS? – Doc Feb 21 '14 at 15:29
  • Just checked, it seems that yes, both do. In which case, the answer is provided in the same passage (both by example from your quoted text and explained immediately after in the CMOS text). "The spirit of our American radicalism is destructive and aimless [. . .]." <- Full stop outside the ending bracket. – Doc Feb 21 '14 at 15:37
  • Thank you. So with a fragmented quote: The spirit of American radicalism [...]. is correct, but with regular ellipses for fragmented quotes, this'd be correct: The spirit of American radicalism ... (just 3 dots). Am I understanding this correctly? Thank you. – whippoorwill Feb 21 '14 at 15:40
  • Thank you. So with a fragmented quote: The spirit of American radicalism [...]. is correct, but with regular ellipses for fragmented quotes, this'd be correct: The spirit of American radicalism ... (just 3 dots). 'The spirit of our American radicalism is destructive and aimless' is not fragmented at all; it's a complete sentence. Am I understanding this correctly? Thank you. – whippoorwill Feb 21 '14 at 15:48
  • Is my interpretation correct – yes or no? – whippoorwill Feb 25 '14 at 22:28
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The section of CMOS that you refer to also appears in CMOS 15 at 11.57, under the heading "The Three- or Four-Dot Method."I'm a bit perplexed that CMOS doesn't put the capital I in "It does not build," since the i is lowercase in the original. Thus:

merely defensive of property. . . . [I]t does not build, nor write, nor cherish the arts, nor foster religion, nor establish schools.

Chicago 15 is somewhat ambivalent on this point. At 11.19 ("Brackets to indicate a change in capitalization"), it says

In legal writing, textual commentary, and other contexts where silently changing from capital to lowercase or vice versa might mislead readers or make reference to the original text more difficult, any change in capitalization should be indicated by brackets.

But any time you present a word from the interior of an original sentence as if it had appeared at the beginning of the original sentence, you are misleading readers as to its status in the original, so I'm not sure when you would ever want to change from lowercase to uppercase without indicating that you have done so. However, CMOS 15 (at 11.63) calls the kind of punctiliousness I favor "the Rigorous Method."

As for the end punctuation, Chicago has long argued that ellipsis points should not appear at the beginning of a block quote or at the end of one. That explains why the final word (schools") of the condensed version of your quotation ends with a period (rather than with ellipsis points) even though it isn't the final word of the sentence in the original quotation. (This is set forth at 11.54 in CMOS 15, and I'm sure that CMOS 16 preserves the same understanding.

If the fragment resumes the same sentence after dropping some of the original wording, you would signify this by adding the ellipses without additional punctuation:

The spirit of American radicalism ... out of hatred and selfishness.

But if the fragment is followed by an altogether new sentence, you would put the ellipsis points inside the full stop signifying the end of the sentence containing the fragment:

The spirit of American radicalism.... On the other side, the conservative party ... is timid, and merely defensive of property.

This would remain true even if you skipped more than one sentence after the break at the first fragment:

The spirit of American radicalism.... From neither party, when in power, has the world any benefit to expect.

By the way, the distinction between ellipsis points inside the full stop and ellipsis points outside the full stop is academic in the three- and four-point method because the four points look the same: It's not as though you can distinguish the three that represent ellipsis points from the one that represents a period in any case.

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