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Thread: Capitalizing Common Nouns

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    Senior Member Array crew's Avatar
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    Capitalizing Common Nouns

    I've seen this done more and more over the past few years. Do people capitalize common nouns for emphasis without realizing it makes them look a bit dense? Perhaps they read that using bold is too strong so they ignore common rules of capitalization?

    I've seen it done plenty of times here on the board but that's no biggie; however, when it's done in academic papers and in professional correspondences, i think it just looks amateurish:

    I'm applying for your Course because I want to help the lives of Poor people.
    I've always wanted to become a Teacher and I think this course will help me to do so.
    During the rise of Communism in Thailand, the Military cracked down on the party throughout Issan.

    I know that sometimes there's a grey area but I'm talking about when there's absolutely no need to use a capital letter. Does anyone else know why people do this? Has anyone else noticed this a bit more in the past few years? Does anyone think this rule will fall by the wayside along with beginning sentences with conjunctions, using the present participle with non-continuous verbs and ending clauses with prepositions?

    Goddamnit! This isn't Nam Smokey; there are rules!

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    Quote Originally Posted by crew View Post
    capitalize common nouns for emphasis without realizing
    I think some people do it so that they will be recognized, and maybe have a better chance at what they are applying/writing for.
    Roaming the wild blue yonder

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    I studied Anthropology is another.

    The army. The Thai Army.

    the USA. The USA

    Here's my pet peeve: black people, white people. Black stands for Negroid. White stands for Caucasian. American Blacks complain of South African Whites.

    I have no problem with when to capitalize. My problem is with people who insist there are set rules for certain items. If you were writing an attack against Christianity and/or God why would you bother showing the respect a capitol letter gives the title? Fookin christians! He and She for royalty as well
    Last edited by jonny danger; 4th May 2010 at 10:15.

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    Well, there are THE RULES, and there is COMMON CONVENTION, and then there are PERSONAL PREFERENCES. Language ought to be a bit flexible.

    I was always taught that if you said "The president of the United States is the leader of the Executive Branch of government", because it's talking about presidents, in general. But that if you said "President Lincoln" or "During the Civil War, the President was..." it was capitalized because you were then speaking of a specific president.

    It seems like I have recently noticed the following practice as being fairly common here in Thailand...which I don't personally like: "The Nile river is in...", with river not capitalized.
    Last edited by Vincentlynch.moonoi; 4th May 2010 at 11:45. Reason: additional thought

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    Quote Originally Posted by ssr View Post
    I think some people do it so that they will be recognized


    A red feathered cap wud b mo-betta 4 that wudn it?


    I-never-dun-a-ting-rong-in-me-life-m8

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonny danger View Post
    Black stands for Negroid
    Wrong it stands for African American (if you are black and come from the US), and don't ask me why.

    Quote Originally Posted by 8ball View Post
    wud b mo-betta 4 that wudn it?
    Sorry I don't understand what you are trying to say can you translate?

    Is fearr Gaeilge briste, ná Bearla clíste.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ssr View Post
    Wrong it stands for African American (if you are black and come from the US), and don't ask me why
    No it doesn't. Blacks are "black" outside America.

    Quote Originally Posted by ssr View Post
    I think some people do it so that they will be recognized, and maybe have a better chance at what they are applying/writing for.
    How would making a grammatical mistake on a job application help the applicant? Sure they'd stand out but they'd stand out as someone who doesn't know how to write and I'd put the CV in the trash.

    Quote Originally Posted by jonny danger View Post
    My problem is with people who insist there are set rules for certain items.
    Yep. As I said, there are gray areas and I can understand the inconsistencies that have been pointed out. It's the use of a capital letter when it's clearly not needed that gets Me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vincentlynch.moonoi View Post
    Well, there are THE RULES, and there is COMMON CONVENTION, and then there are PERSONAL PREFERENCES. Language ought to be a bit flexible.
    I was with you until "PERSONAL PREFERENCES". I have a preference to fart but that don't make farting in public acceptable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crew View Post
    How would making a grammatical mistake on a job application help the applicant? Sure they'd stand out but they'd stand out as someone who doesn't know how to write and I'd put the CV in the trash.
    We are tralking about the person that is writing it and not the person that is reading.


    Quote Originally Posted by crew View Post
    No it doesn't. Blacks are "black" outside America.
    You are correct it should have read if you are in AMERICA thank you and keep up the good work.

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    Read literature pre 1800s and a lot of common nouns are capitalised, job titles would be an example. People doing now, in "Course" for example are thinking of the title of the course, like "How to Teach English to Idiots Course for Idiots".
    Those that want to read whatever they can want all freedoms, but have to understand they can have freedom, but it must be within the law.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crew View Post
    I was with you until "PERSONAL PREFERENCES".
    You are writing for an audience so personal preferences only apply if you are the audience or your audience fully understands them, imho! With CVs, I tend to bin the ones with errors in them. After all, I you can't be arsed to get your CV right...
    "Always forgive your enemies -- Nothing annoys them so much !"
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    When I was at school we were taught to capitalize both proper and common nouns. Later we realise that this isn't the correct grammatical technique, but old habits die hard. We were also taught never to put a comma after 'and'. This would inevitably result in a painful ear and one lesson I remember to this day. As someone has said, grammatical useage and language constructs change over time; it become less important and acceptable, though granted this doesn't mean it's still wrong, but surely not to the extent it's portrayed?

    What really bothers me is the mobile texts I'm sometimes getting from English adults that end in something like, 'yo m8, chill it's wkd'! When it gets to that stage then all is lost.

    My point is, I take what I need from grammar and apply it to the lessons applicable to Thai M1-6. A purist view might be for those teaching English at degree level. I've occasionally stated I'm somewhat 'lazy', I'll change this to 'fatalistic'.

    Get your teeth into the paragraph below. Why would I need to decipher that lot to teach basic English grammar?

    "To divide this into two clauses-(a) It is we ourselves, (b) that are ... impertinences-would be grammatical; but logically the sentence is, We ourselves are getting ... impertinences, and it is ... that is merely a framework used to effect emphasis. The sentence shows how it may lose its pronominal force".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Classic-Chassis View Post
    "How to Teach English to Idiots Course for Idiots".
    Actually, in titles all words except short prepositions like "to" and "for" shoud be capitalized, I think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crew View Post
    i think it just looks amateurish:
    No Comment.
    I married two separate women to save them from poverty - which was big o' me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crew View Post
    During the rise of Communism in Thailand, the Military cracked down on the party throughout Issan
    I'm sure both mistakes in this sentence were intentional .

    I find the capitalisation rules for "-isms" rather complicated.

    From what I gather, the rule is that -isms based on proper names are capitalised, so it's Marxism, Trotskyism and Dadaism, but communism, capitalism, pointillism and bilateralism.

    The less obvious ones are Impressionism (after "Les Impressionists") and Fauvism (after "Les Fauves"). Also Neo-Impressionism and Post-Impressionism - the prefix tends to be capitalised too.

    Romanticism and Classicism are somewhat exceptional as they refer respectively to the Romantic movement (not to romance (or indeed Romance languages)) and the Classical period (not to a "classic" or timeless quality).

    Sorry I'm a bit of a linguistic An(n)alist .

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    Capitalizing is part of linguistics? Lingua or lengua is tongue, or from the mouth. And Annalist? Do you mean anal-ist?

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