20213Re: [mythsoc] Capitalization in Tolkien
- Dec 5, 2008Hi 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.
On Dec 5, 2008, at 4:28 AM, John Davis wrote:
> 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.
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