Capital letters (was Re: [LINK] The future of Link)
cas at taz.net.au
Wed Jun 15 11:57:53 EST 2005
On Wed, Jun 15, 2005 at 02:26:36AM +0200, Karl Auer wrote:
> Craig Sanders wrote:
> > other people (including me) believe that that is a huge waste of one of
> > the few stylistic markers available for plain text, and that capital
> > letters should be used for emphasis (and for acronyms and initials --
> > to highlight the fact that they ARE acronyms or initials rather than
> > random-letter gibberish). they believe that capitalising proper names
> > is as silly as the german language habit of capitalising ALL nouns,
> Do you read German?
no, i studied it in high school many years ago but have forgotten most
of what i knew. i can puzzle out the approximate meaning of some german
texts if i spend enough time on it. and while i remember that i enjoyed
learning and using the language, i also remember how silly a page of
german looks(*) with all those capital letters scattered through it.
(*) to me, at least. inherently subjective.
> Lots of German words are identical in their noun form and their verb
> form; while context can typically disambiguate perfectly well, a
> little redundancy makes life a lot easier. The Germans are disposing
> of a few capital letters, though - the familiar forms "du", "ihr" and
> "euch" are usually spelled with lower case letters, though they used
> to be capitalised. I read recently that "sie" is now officially OK
> for the formal "Sie", which I consider a retrograde step, as not even
> context can always make clear the distinction between the various
> meanings of "sie".
i see that as evidence that unneccesary capitalisation in german, like
english, is becoming obsolete...and will eventually be regarded as
it also sounds like capitalisation is more often necessary in german,
from your description it is actually a modifier which encodes the
difference between noun and verb form....this is not the case in
> > that there is no need to capitalise the first word of a sentence
> > because it is implicitly obvious that it is the first word.
> Perhaps you mean that the first word of a text is obviously the first
> word, so needs no capital, and the first words in new sentences always
> follow terminal markers like periods, exclamation marks and question
and, sometimes, white space indicates the end of a sentence.
> so there is no need for capitals there either. But how about the
> first word on a page? The first word at the top of a new column? The
> first word after a break of any kind? The first word after an ellipsis?
i wouldn't capitalise a word just because of those circumstances either.
what's so special about the first word of a sentence that it requires
> > whether you like it or not, you'll just have to accept that this is
> > a different dialect of written english.
> Whether you like it or not you'll have to accept that only time will
> tell. Your so-called "dialect" is presently used in a vanishingly
> small subset of written English communications.
so? size of a dialect's pool is (and always has been) irrelevant to whether
it is a dialect or not. what matters is whether the rules of grammar are
> It's rare (acronyms aside) that the use of upper or lower case is
> of vital importance in written English. However, case provides some
> redundancy - just as the match between (say) subject and verb forms
> does. Redundancy helps comprehension, reduces misunderstandings and
> self-corrects many kinds of errors.
unlike german, capitalisation in english provides NO useful information
about the word. it's not information, it's not even redundant
information, it's just decoration.
craig sanders <cas at taz.net.au> (part time cyborg)
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