[Collective Unconsiousness]

It is common for interviewers to substitute bracketed text for the subjects words in order to paraphrase for brevity or clarity.

Example: I took Washington Street, Market Street, and Western Ave to work today. [Those streets] were terribly backed up for no apparent reason.

I have seen this convention used for a very long time…. The thing is, I don’t ever remember being taught what it means.. Did I just infer the meaning of the brackets from repeated observation or was I taught this explicitly? How about you?

10 thoughts on “[Collective Unconsiousness]

  1. I learned this explicity in English class. When quoting a text or person, anything inserted by the writer and not part of the quotation should be bracketed. “I had a buuger [sic] hanging from my nose all morning.” In this case, the author inserted the “sic” in brackets to signify that the spelling error was in the original quotation, and not a transcription error.

    1. she’s completely right, both of my parents are journalists. I don’t know how this is used outside of journalism, but [the brackets] mean anything that wasn’t directly quoted but inserted by the author. for instance, I could have really said “they” instead of “the brackets” and substituted “the brackets” instead to make the meaning more clear.

      hope that makes sense. redundantly so.

  2. I’ve never made it through an Eglish class without falling asleep. Maybe they tried to teach this to me, maybe they didn’t. I can’t really say with certainty.

  3. As far as I can tell, it’s just a journalistic convention.

    If it’s not taught in school, it might be because used carelessly, it makes quotes look weaker. If it’s used to change tense and agreement to form a generalized statement without altering the original meaning, no harm no foul.

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