Capitalisation - style or grammar?

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Should capitalisation be a matter of style, or a matter of grammar?

Style
14
74%
Grammar
5
26%
 
Total votes: 19

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Gong Sun Hao Ran
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Capitalisation - style or grammar?

Postby Gong Sun Hao Ran » 2005-12-16, 16:31

I was reading "Language: The Basics" and it totally challenged my existing viewpoint on language. It made me think about things like the relation between semantics and grammar, which led to me thinking about capitalisation.
What I'd like to know is, then, do you think if capitalisation should be (or would be) a matter of style, or a matter of grammar? Try not to support your choice by using a standardised definition or set of rules for capitalisation from a grammar book, but rather what y'know about the English language, the type of usage that you commonly see, and your own beliefs or ideas about language.
So, what do you think?

Note: Feel free to reply with a grey-area answer.
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allemaalmeezinge
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Postby allemaalmeezinge » 2005-12-16, 17:08

Style, definitely style. I'm opposed to every forced rule regarding this matter -- as a German I'm doing this out of strong inner belief :lol:

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Kirk
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Postby Kirk » 2005-12-16, 20:23

From a linguistic viewpoint capitalization is strictly a stylistic matter. That doesn't mean that it's unimportant when writing, but the norms of capitalization are potentially changeable and subject to fashions and whims of certain ages in ways that true aspects of grammar (such as syntax and morphology) aren't.
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Pips
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Postby Pips » 2005-12-16, 21:05

There is no question that capitalization is a matter of style. Grammar doesn't even enter into the equation. I think anyone who voted "grammar" has a mistaken perception of what this word actually means.

Rules governing capitalization are merely spelling conventions. Spelling doesn't involve grammar.
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Resilience
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Postby Resilience » 2005-12-17, 13:45

yabba wrote:Style, definitely style. I'm opposed to every forced rule regarding this matter -- as a German I'm doing this out of strong inner belief :lol:


I agree that it is a stylistic matter, but capitalisation is still a forced rule. It's a forced style, if you will. :wink:

MikeL
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Postby MikeL » 2005-12-18, 4:27

It has always intrigued me that whereas many European languages capitalize polite or formal pronouns (Sie / Lei / Vd), English only capitalizes the 3rd person pronoun when it refers to God, and the 1st person singular pronoun everywhere.
Must be a message in there somewhere...

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Kirk
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Postby Kirk » 2005-12-18, 6:21

MikeL wrote:It has always intrigued me that whereas many European languages capitalize polite or formal pronouns (Sie / Lei / Vd), English only capitalizes the 3rd person pronoun when it refers to God, and the 1st person singular pronoun everywhere.
Must be a message in there somewhere...


Centuries ago scribes would capitalize "I" because it was feared it wouldn't stand out as "i" since it was just one letter (I also seem to remember there was something else that would've caused confusion with a lower-case "i" but I can't remember it right now). Also, modern practice even for many Bibles has been to not capitalize the pronouns in reference to God, which is another more recent change. For example, in my Bible (which is the New International Version in English) the pronouns in reference to God are not capitalized.
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'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

maɪ nemz kʰɜ˞kʰ n̩ aɪ laɪk̚ fɨˈnɛ̞ɾɪ̞ks

Stan
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Postby Stan » 2005-12-18, 6:27

MikeL wrote:It has always intrigued me that whereas many European languages capitalize polite or formal pronouns (Sie / Lei / Vd), English only capitalizes the 3rd person pronoun when it refers to God, and the 1st person singular pronoun everywhere.
Must be a message in there somewhere...


Vd. is capitalized as an abbreviation, but never as a word (unless of course it happens to start a sentence)


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