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Tog
2010-Aug-10, 03:06 PM
Over on the writing forum someone asked a question about capitalizing something. So far, everyone that has answered holds the same opinion, except one really vocal guy. Here is the question.

A. He owned a Chevy Truck.
B. He owned a Chevy truck.

Which is correct?

In a sort of related note, I have always thought that the name of a martial art was considered a proper name. You would not capitalize "karate" because it is a general category, but you would capitalize Kyokushinkai, Shorin-Ryu, or Shotokan, because they are all specific forms of karate-do. Whenever I see the actual name of a form in print, it's not capitalized. I'm curious as to why.

Swift
2010-Aug-10, 03:31 PM
I would say "Chevy truck" unless "Truck" was the name of a particular model, such as "Chevy Volt".

grant hutchison
2010-Aug-10, 03:46 PM
I agree with Swift about the truck.
"He owned a truck."
What kind of truck did he own?
"He owned a Chevy truck."
If you don't capitalize "truck" in the first example, then you don't capitalize it in the latter.

With regard to martial arts, I don't know enough to say whether specific forms "should" be proper nouns. However, there may be a transliteration issue, since these names are coming to us from languages that use non-Latin alphabets. When transliterating geographical names from Cyrillic, for instance, it's customary not to capitalize words that we'd think of as being part of the proper name, because they are not capitalized in the original language.
We'd write "Lake Baikal" in English, for instance, but transliterate the Russian as "ozero Baykal" (from о́зеро Байка́л). So I'm wondering if your martial arts names are coming to us from languages that don't (or can't!) capitalize in the original script.

Grant Hutchison

SeanF
2010-Aug-10, 04:42 PM
I'll be the third vote that "truck" should not be capitalized.

Gillianren
2010-Aug-10, 04:49 PM
Interestingly, in my days as a copy editor, I had this very discussion with our sports editor. At least I can assure myself that you will be reasonable about it and not asking about it so that you can be vocally right.

"Truck" should not, in this sentence, be capitalized. It is not a proper noun. "Chevy," in this instance, is an adjective. What kind of truck? A Chevy truck. It's just the same as an English high tea, for example, or Elizabethan history. I'm sure you can think of many other similar examples.

However, you would similarly not capitalize "baseball." The failings of my explanations here come down to a lack of knowledge about sports. I cannot provide similar examples, because the only two which come to mind are actually exceptions to the rule. I would always capitalized "Hail Mary pass" and "Florentine fencing," because they're both named for proper nouns. Why is this the case? I don't know. However, there are a lot of similar examples in a lot of other fields.

Tog
2010-Aug-10, 05:01 PM
That was the line of the thought by the vast majority on the other boards as well. "Truck" would only be capitalized if there was model by that name.

The examples he gave to support his side were all two word proper nouns. Ohio River, Main Street, and the like.

Thanks for the replies.

PetersCreek
2010-Aug-10, 05:11 PM
However, you would similarly not capitalize "baseball."

...unless, of course, one is referring to the entity, Major League Baseball (http://mlb.mlb.com/index.jsp), rather than major league baseball in general.. Not that my sports knowledge is much greater than yours. I can't call myself a fan.

Gillianren
2010-Aug-10, 06:08 PM
Indeed.

Actually, the specific example our sports editor gave was "Ferrari Testarossa," and he couldn't be made to see how this was not a relevant point in his favour. "Major League Baseball" is a compound noun; you need all three words (or at least their first letters!) to refer to a single entity. The Ohio River, that great goal of the Underground Railroad (another one!), if you leave off "Ohio," actually could be the River--around here, we talk much of the Sound, because we have the one, it has a proper name, and everyone knows what we're talking about anyway. You could not similarly refer to the Truck and have anyone know what you're talking about outside perhaps a very narrow circle of people.

grant hutchison
2010-Aug-10, 07:05 PM
You could not similarly refer to the Truck and have anyone know what you're talking about outside perhaps a very narrow circle of people.And if you did refer to "the Truck", it would be a flag for the reader that you were talking about some single, significant truck.
In a similar way, there's a British TV and restaurant critic who anonymizes his partner by calling her "the Blonde": we are to understand that this is the only significant blonde in his life.
(At least it's an improvement on Hunter Davies who, when he wrote for Punch during its high days in the late 1970s, routinely referred to his wife as "the Old Trout".)

Grant Hutchison

SeanF
2010-Aug-10, 07:34 PM
(At least it's an improvement on Hunter Davies who, when he wrote for Punch during its high days in the late 1970s, routinely referred to his wife as "the Old Trout".)
Or Rumpole's "She Who Must Be Obeyed." :)

pzkpfw
2010-Aug-10, 07:40 PM
Arthur's "'er in-doors"?

(Which I mention only because I think it's an opposite example.)


(I've probably performed 10 acts of punctuation sin in this post. Apologies.)


Edit: Thanks folk - I learned something.

grant hutchison
2010-Aug-10, 07:51 PM
Arthur's "'er in-doors"?

(Which I mention only because I think it's an opposite example.)I've usually seen that one rendered as "'Er Indoors". It certainly sounded capitalized. :)

Grant Hutchison

Strange
2010-Aug-10, 07:56 PM
So should it be 'er or 'Er, seeing as 'ow it's the 'aitch what was capitalised in the first place?

kleindoofy
2010-Aug-10, 08:02 PM
@ Tog

Please go back to the writing forum ("the"?) and tell Mr. Vocal that he doesn't know what he's talking (better: writing) about.

Please also tell him that a Chevy truck is not something worth arguing about. ;)

Strange
2010-Aug-10, 08:07 PM
Please also tell him that a Chevy truck is not something worth arguing about. ;)

So you are saying he shouldn't follow your advice???

Gillianren
2010-Aug-10, 08:17 PM
So should it be 'er or 'Er, seeing as 'ow it's the 'aitch what was capitalised in the first place?

I'd go with 'Er, because, while it was the "h" capitalized and now left off, you still need the distinction to show it's a proper noun.

Strange
2010-Aug-10, 08:53 PM
I'd go with 'Er, because, while it was the "h" capitalized and now left off, you still need the distinction to show it's a proper noun.

I'm convinced.

Gillianren
2010-Aug-10, 11:58 PM
Hooray!

DonM435
2010-Aug-11, 12:48 PM
Sir Henry Cooper, the retired British boxing champion has an autobiography entitled H as in 'Enery.

Strange
2010-Aug-11, 01:21 PM
And I wouldn't argue with him.

DonM435
2010-Aug-11, 03:08 PM
We should point out that his left hook was known as 'Enry's 'Ammer. He's one of the very few boxers to have knocked down Muhammad Ali. (He did so back when that man was still Cassius Clay).

kleindoofy
2010-Aug-11, 08:53 PM
... 'Enry's 'Ammer. ... Muhammad Ali. ...
Shouldn't that be Muhammad Hali?

Oh, no, wait ...