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

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  • Melvyn
    ... them to screen potential clients). Crumbs, I must admit Cascading Style Sheets still impress me as bleeding edge technology. :-O The offending page
    Message 1 of 32 , 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.
      http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780198605645.do


      >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
      "be".

      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
      because.

      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.

      BR

      M.
    • melvyn.geo
      ... Hardly a surprise considering the manuals disagree among themselves, as you point out, and users freely pick and choose among them. I am happy enough if
      Message 32 of 32 , Sep 29, 2012
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        --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, James Kirchner <czechlist@...> wrote:
        >There's no unity at similar establishments regarding usage.

        Hardly a surprise considering the manuals disagree among themselves, as you point out, and users freely pick and choose among them. I am happy enough if I can show that a particular standpoint is sometimes applied in practice.


        >I actually know a very good web designer whose own website is the trashiest thing imaginable. She says it puts her right at the top of the search engine rankings, and that clients who see her samples don't care about her own site.

        The one who designed my blog pages (and received praise from rival web designers for them) told me she just does not bother with her own site.

        http://web.archive.org/web/20081212062305/http://zehrovak.bloguje.cz/643703-nova-slovni-zasoba.php

        http://web.archive.org/web/20081007125334/http://zehrovak.bloguje.cz/100537-u-tri-zajicu.php

        BTW bloguje.cz recently shut up shop without warning and now I have to find a new home for my blog. Any recommendations, anybody?

        >I've also read that matchmaking sites do better if they look cheesy. Again, people think there are humans behind the site.

        Freelance translators and interpreters often stress the fact that they spare the client agency complications and fees. Plain vanilla puts this point over better than any slick razzmatazz.

        Serious point about the complications, actually. I have had enough of agencies where the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing, so they repeatedly phone me up to find out what their colleagues are doing.

        >Nonetheless, if I see an agency site that is not well designed or is not at
        least an attractive, competently filled-in template, I tend to avoid the agency,
        thinking their standards are low in other matters also.

        Language would be my primary concern here. We all know of those outfits that brag about their own magnificence in broken English. If their texts look like they have been proofread then I
        can usually overlook the glaring yellow font on a goose-turd green background. You can sometimes spot the well-to-do by their grotty taste (viz podnikatelska baroka).

        >As an attorney told me yesterday, "You can't go
        wrong using standard English rules in a legal document."

        Does s/he ever use third-person "shall" in contracts? Hardly standard. You said previously that this is one of the rare places where "shall" is found in American English:
        >It is right that "shall" is almost never used in American English, other than in legal texts
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Czechlist/message/49937

        >This is not the way we did it at the communications companies. We kept about
        five style manuals in the drawer, and then we would do things the way we wanted
        to. If the exec, lawyer or writer complained, we'd pull out the style guide
        that supported what we wanted to do, take it to the person and point out that
        "the style guide" calls for our way of doing it. The people would immediately
        cave in, and nobody ever seemed to notice we were bringing them different style
        manuals in different situations.

        Now why does this not surprise me in the least? :-) I was going to make the point previously that all the complexities of title case present a nice opportunity to carve out one's own little fiefdom if one is so inclined.

        >>> 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.

        >I have never heard of NIVA, and a lot of web searching has not yielded any
        explanation of what it is or what its full name is. Do you know?

        http://www.niva.com/ ,
        which publishes
        http://www.writersblock.ca/

        And before you complain about how cheesy NIVA is as a source (pun unavoidable - or punavoidable ha ha), this was just one site I chose pretty much at random from several that basically say the same thing, e.g.:

        Capitalization of significant parts of speech of or more than four or five letters (preferences vary).
        http://suite101.com/article/how-to-write-in-title-case-a73866

        Also, sometimes I am in the middle of a job and cannot go looking for cheese-free sites.

        >The kid watches this screwball English comedy for a
        while with a deadpan expression and then says, "Mom, that man's wearing a
        dress."

        But we have been crossdressing like this onstage for centuries. :-) In English pantomime the female lead role is always taken by a male, and vice versa:

        The gender role reversal resembles the old festival of Twelfth Night, a combination of Epiphany and midwinter feast, when it was customary for the natural order of things to be reversed. This tradition is sometimes traced back to pre-Christian European festivals such as Samhain and Saturnalia.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantomime

        So now you see what the Pilgrim Fathers and all those puritans were trying to escape.


        > 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.

        >I doubt it.

        Of course not, but the effect of the indefinite article always amuses me. Queen Elizabeth II, a British monarch,...

        >Many of my American students born and raised around Detroit didn't know where Ontario was. If you go downtown and look across the straits, you see Ontario vividly on the other side just two miles away.

        Crikey, you could have spitting contests. Are Ontarians just as likely to be ignorant of Detroit?

        BR

        M.
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