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20213Re: [mythsoc] Capitalization in Tolkien

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  • John D Rateliff
    Dec 5, 2008
      Hi John
      As you say, Tolkien's not consistent on this point. But then
      again, given how long a span of time his legendarium materials cover,
      and the various states he left them in, complete consistency would
      have been hard to achieve. I personally don't feel that imposing a
      standardization onto his works is necessary or desirable.
      Re. the general question, "Should one capitalise fantasy races?",
      the standard at TSR was to leave the name of a race in lower-case but
      to capitalize a sub-race -- for example, "that orc is a Uruk-hai";
      "the elf turned out to be a Drow"; "Fallohides are the rarest of the
      three types of hobbit"; &c. I think here they were working on the
      model of ethnicities (e.g., asian vs. Mung). That at any rate was the
      rule they'd extrapolated, which worked pretty well.
      I hope this helps.
      --John R.


      On Dec 5, 2008, at 4:28 AM, John Davis wrote:
      > Hi,
      >
      > I've been banging my head against this one for a while, and would
      > appreciate any advice...
      >
      > Should one capitalise fantasy races?
      >
      > Now the obvious answer would seem to be no, no more than we
      > capitalise real species. So fox, rabbit, hobbit, elf.
      >
      > But Tolkien frequently - and frequently inconsistently, so far as I
      > can see - does capitalise. Not so much in the Hobbit, sometimes in
      > LotR and his letters, always in CoH (making it Christopher I
      > suppose, but he should know!). Shippey doesn't capitalise, other
      > writers do. Some people claim that the inconsistency is due to
      > Tolkien's editors and proofreaders not being up to the task, but
      > this doesn't seem to excuse the Letters (or does it?). It would be
      > nice to say that Tolkien used lower case if referring to the
      > species (a noun: 'the elven race is immortal', or 'an elven
      > sword'), and capitalised if referring to a specific individual or
      > group of individuals (a proper noun: 'Bilbo the Hobbit', or 'the
      > Hobbits in the boat'. But this doesn't seem to be the case,
      > certainly not by CoH.
      >
      > Online, some people advocate always capitalising fantasy races
      > (saying that they are really more a people), others advocate never
      > capitalising. Most seem unsure.
      >
      > Help!
      >
      > John
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