There is a growing number of people out there who seem to think common nouns have a confidence problem. They feel they need to boost these nouns’ self esteem, and they do it by capitalizing them.
We live in an egalitarian society which, in some writers’ minds, carries over into our grammar. (Or should I write “Grammar”?) There is this nagging idea that proper nouns shouldn’t hold themselves above the rest of the parts of speech. Why should English be capitalized and language not? Where’s the fairness there?
The poor common noun only gets to be capitalized at the beginning of sentences or in titles. They just grind along doing their jobs with no chance for recognition. Poor little things…
Oh, come off it! Grammar is not a democracy. Creative capitalization is annoying. Common nouns aren’t supposed to be showy. They are the behind-the-scenes crew while proper nouns are the actors on the stage.
There is a reason all caps is considered yelling in electronic communication. It is annoying to see sentences with too much capitalization.
I went to the Accountant to get my Taxes done, but the Human Resources Department didn’t send me my Forms.
It’s easy to remember that specific nouns are proper nouns and, therefore, capitalized: Introduction to American History (not the History class), November (not this Month), or the Mona Lisa (not the Painting).
On the other hand, we have people who think acronyms shouldn’t be capitalized. Okay, laser (for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”) and scuba (“self-contained underwater breathing apparatus”) have wormed their way into regular use. They are the exceptions.
It’s confusing to use “Aids” when Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is meant. I’m sure the professional stock car group would rather be known as NASCAR, not nascar. Using fbi makes the bureau look, well, feeble.
There is no need to capitalize the common noun. They understand that they are the rock upon which their showier brethren, the proper nouns, can strut their stuff.
One thought on “The Castes of Capitalization”
Dear Annette — I have read three of these