14 April 2007


Madame at "Mutterings & Meanderings" recently ranted about inaccurate grammar. Today, as I watched Hull City grind out a 1-1 draw with Colchester United, I noticed one of the rotating advertising bars at the side of the pitch. It was for a local building firm - "Stubb's Bro's"! Well if the Stubbs brothers can't get their apostrophes right, how could I possibly trust them with any bricklaying? They'd forget to put cement in their mortar!

But it's not apostrophes I wish to rant about this evening, it is the widespread and deliberate disavowal of rules surrounding the use of capital letters. Many companies, film makers, TV programme makers, sign makers and advertising agencies seem to think that it is somehow cool and rather jolly and stylish to forget about capitals... - Hey look at us, we are thoroughly modern - we don't need yer damned capitals dude! - Tossers! Try embedding rules about capital letters with texting teenagers in a written word environment that daily evidences abuse of the very rules you are trying to convey.

For all those "cool", fashionable, hip advertising executives and book jacket designers who seek to arrogantly re-invent long-established rules of English grammar, I give you the instances when capital letters should be used:-

the first word of a sentence or fragment
the name of a day or a month
the name of a language
a word expressing a connection with a place
the name of a nationality or an ethnic group
a proper name
the name of a historical period
the name of a holiday
a significant religious term
the first word, and each significant word, of a title
the first word of a direct quotation which is a sentence
a brand name
a Roman numeral
the pronoun I

reading the news about sunni suicide bombers in baghdad and basra in iraq, i have decided to create a crack team of capital protection stormtroopers. our mission will be to blow up any companies or individuals found guilty of deliberate capital letter abuse! anybody out there in blogworld wish to join the c.l.p.s? Of course, people who are either ignorant or word blind and make unwitting mistakes with capitals will be excused from these revenge attacks!
"the scandal of scientology"? Don't you mean "The Scandal of Disregarding Simple Rules about the Use of Capital Letters"?


  1. Oh, YP, everyone thinks s/he's e.e. cummings or "archy and mehitabel" (Don Marquis) at some point.

    Not really, but still... it's hard not to get a bit addled by old e.e.

  2. Yes, I agree about capital letters, but what I really want to know is how come you can use different colour fonts and I can't???

    In 1992 a writer, critic and close friend of E.E. Cummings wrote an article entitled - NOT "e. e. cummings"
    by Norman Friedman

    "It may at first seem of little import, but for a poet who paid such exacting attention to typography, it must be said once and for all that his name should be written and printed with the usual capital letters in their usual places: "E. E. Cummings.''

    Let us dispose, first of all, of the usual reaction when his name is mentioned in conversation: "Oh, isn't he the poet who never uses capitals?" Even a casual look at his poems shows that of course he uses capitals—he uses them frequently, albeit not always conventionally. The same goes for spacing, word and line breaks, parentheses, and punctuation, not to mention grammar and syntax.

    What probably accounts for the common misperception that he is a lowercase poet is his usual printing of "I" as "i." Interestingly, he wrote in a letter to his mother, September 3, 1925 (Selected Letters, F. W. Dupee and George Stade, eds., 1969, pp. 108-9): "I am a small eye poet." Notice that he capitalizes the first-person singular, distinguishing between the writer of the letter and the writer of the poetry. And in his letters he most frequently used the uppercase form, with his signature at the bottom in capitals."


  4. JJ
    Coloured fonts are easy. When you see the new post box, find the letter T with a little multi-coloured square south east of this. Highlight the piece of text you wish to colour and then click on the T-box icon mentioned. See the colour choices there. Simply click on the colour you want the text to be and hey presto - your text is now coloured! Magic!

  5. Got all excited then for a minute but I don't seem to have the T-box icon.

    Discrimination against bloggers from the south I call it!

  6. Ooooo YP on a mission. I can't help but think it is doomed from the start given the shocking inability of many folk I have worked with and studied with being unable or unwilling to understand the basics.

    Mind you, I'm not exactly the greatest of grammatists. ;-)

  7. Ambassador, you are spoiling us with these capital letters!!

    Sometimes I can't even be arsed to capitalise my own "i", as in "me, myself, and i", but it's nothing to do with being hip... just plain lazy.



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