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50005Re: Capitalization (was: Here at the Department we...)

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  • Melvyn
    Sep 28, 2012
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      --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, James Kirchner <czechlist@...> wrote:
      >The cheapest, simplest, free website editing program produces pages that do not look like they were made in the '90s, and I'm not talking about "all the latest bells and whistles". Anyway, I won't get further into website issues (I use
      them to screen potential clients).

      Crumbs, I must admit Cascading Style Sheets still impress me as bleeding edge technology. :-O The offending page actually strikes me as neat, distraction-free, gloss-free and quite easy to read. The font could do to be a bit bigger, but then so could that used in the online Encyclopedia Britannica. http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/capitals.htm
      Really got to get my act together with this web design thing, huh?

      I was pleased to find an American source that broadly supported my (British) view. A hands-on source like that could be more indicative of everyday usage than some remote ivory-tower authority. I would not expect an obscure community college to dazzle us with style, but I would expect it to be fairly accurate about everyday usage at said obscure community college and similar establishments.

      BTW a translator colleague once told me he deliberately avoids having a slickly professional presence online. Said his clients respond more to the human touch. I would bear this kind of thing in mind too.

      > Suffice it to say that you guys are always
      presenting me with cheesy sources (one teacher at an obscure community college)
      that support your contentions but will sometimes reject authoritative sources
      that don't.

      Don't necessarily knock cheesy. One man's cheese is another man's timeless verity.

      >A factor in this may be that we have different backgrounds. <snip>
      So I don't necessarily jump every time the client tells me to,

      With regard to capitalization in contracts etc I normally do. If the client asks me to, say, capitalize the key defined terms in an insurance policy then my approach is basically that described by Matej. Use of capitals outside this very specific domain is another matter, but I have never come up against problems with cap-happy lawyers in other contexts.

      >> >Going to a British source, the Oxford Style Manual
      > >The Oxford Guide to Style

      >No, sorry. I have it right in front of me. It's called "The Oxford Style
      Manual". It's from Oxford UK, not Oxford USA. Would you like me to photograph the cover?

      If you enjoy photography then you go right ahead. :-) The Oxford Style Manual comprises the Oxford Guide to Style and the Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors. The p. 77 that you quoted is actually p. 77 in the Oxford Guide to Style.

      >In the manuals I used as a magazine editor, the rule was that in titles you
      capitalize all words of four letters or longer, plus all forms of "have" and

      But there are so many alternatives in the various manuals. Yes, I know, you should choose your manual and then stick to it. Sounds fine in theory.

      >> Should long prepositions be capitalized? How
      long does a preposition have to be before it is a long preposition? Etc.

      >Four letters. They just have to look in the manual.

      NIVA prefers to capitalize prepositions of five characters or more.

      And then you get complications like this:
      My Travels up Nova Scotia's South Shore
      (correct; "up" is functioning as a preposition and should be lowercased)
      Setting up Your Computer
      (wrong; "up" is functioning as a particle and should be capitalized)
      http://www.writersblock.ca/tips/monthtip/tipmar98.htm (warning: cheese factor 7 plus dodgy info)

      >Sentence case is commonly used in the US if the house style calls for it or if
      the graphic designer has a reason to use it. (As an editor, I used to let
      designers do almost anything they wanted.) It is also used with very long
      titles, such as in master's theses, etc. I often use sentence case just

      Good reason.

      >The statement, "If it's good enough for the Economist, it's good enough for me,"
      strikes me as typical American sycophancy toward the British.

      I don't know any Americans who are sycophantic towards the British, but I do know Americans who are very much on their guard against sycophancy towards the British, which often comes over as the reverse side of the same coin. :-) Ironic thing is (pace Ed Byrne http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nT1TVSTkAXg), along with many Brits I was brought up to admire American popular culture, e.g. Top Cat was always a big role model, though admittedly those trashcans could get a bit smelly in summer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q59KXrW0jBQ .

      >After all, the
      Economist isn't always well written.

      I am always amused by the way almost every real-world reference in the Economist is automatically followed by a brief explanatory clause, e.g. ...the Beatles, a 1960s rock group. For a long time I thought these helpful notes were an attempt at humour.


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