Dictionary.com

Why do we use capital and lower case letters, and how did both types come to be?

Capitalization rules tend to vary by language and can be quite complicated.  It is widely understood that the first word of a sentence and all proper nouns are always capitalized. However, what is not so clear is the origin of the upper case distinction that has become common practice, especially in regards to Modern English. To unmask the origin of the capital letter we need to refer to a script derived from the Old Roman cursive called uncial.

Uncial is a majuscule script, a synonym meaning “large or capital letter,” commonly used by Latin and Greek scribes beginning around the 3rd century AD. The word is derived from the Latin uncialis meaning “of an inch, of an ounce.”

The first use of the word uncial, and thus the possible origin of its modern meaning, is from St. Jerome’s preface to the Book Of Job and the following passage: “Let those who so desire have old books, or books written in gold and silver on purple parchment, or burdens (rather than books) written in uncial letters, as they are popularly called.” It is believed that St. Jerome is referring to the uppercase letters within the text. In addition, as St. Jerome makes reference to – the move from the rough writing surface of papyrus to the smoother parchment and vellum made possible a more rounded single stroke writing style instead of the former angular, multiple stroke style.

The original twenty-one letters in the Latin alphabet are derived from the uncial style of writing. As the Latin alphabet was adapted for other languages over time, more letters were added that also incorporated the majuscule lettering thus giving us the Modern Latin alphabet from which the English alphabet is derived.

(Meet two extinct letters of the English alphabet and learn what they sounded like, here.)

As the uncial script evolved, a smaller, more rounded and connected Greek-style lettering called minuscule was introduced around the 9th century AD.  It soon became very common to mix miniscule and some uncial or capital letters within a word, the latter used to add emphasis. In contrast, many other writing systems such as the Georgian language and Arabic make no distinction between upper and lowercase lettering – a system called unicase.

Do you find capitalization to be helpful or annoying? Weigh in, below, but remember, ALL CAPS can be a bit overwhelming.

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218 Comments

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  6. Santiago -  June 21, 2013 - 12:25 pm

    I find that the information is not all together inaccurate but rather incomplete. The history of the written word is by and large; history (pun intended). Words can be profound or entertaining. They can be a lovers kiss when you breath apart, or the nonsensical ramblings of some “nice” (see etymology of nice) person that has known love but not growth. The raptor and revelation of it all-at least for the Occident world- rest on these evolved uncial traditions. I think that it is quite effective as an identifier as in reverence to someones name or lineage..i.e surname. It also announces meditation. Such as the old tradition of starting a thesis or provocative statement with a calligraphic majuscule. Or more intimatly the same practice used to identify the “seed” of a love letter or poem as it is read. It gives the written word the potential to something far more then most speech; communicate. A happy amalgimation that must be revived so that we may be. I admire it.

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  8. Lee -  March 2, 2013 - 3:44 pm

    You still capitalize fictional characters. A proper noun is capitalized. Any reasonable person knows God doesn’t exist but, being reasonable, also knows how the English language works.

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  11. Kirby Palm -  October 28, 2012 - 6:12 pm

    The only purpose of capital letters is to give educated readers a sense that the writer is not so educated.

    Reply
  12. Frenchlove -  October 28, 2012 - 12:36 am

    CAPS LOCK HELPS FOR PEOPLE WHO HATE THE SHIFT BUTTON!!!!!!!!! AND FOR WRITING EVERYTHING IN CAPITALS!!!!!
    Capitals help for reading and writing to tell you when a sentence starts and finishes, non?
    Comprends-vous?

    Reply
  13. Alex Bickerstaff -  July 23, 2012 - 10:04 am

    Also, in regards to the comment before mine, I applaud your attentiveness, but you should know that you didn’t discover some hidden secret. Almost every medication these days has a name that is derived from some Greek or Latin word. In fact, you can trace the majority of the English vocabulary to either Greek or Latin. Of course there are words derived from other languages, but Greek and Latin are the biggest contributors. If you have a strong knowledge of Greek and Latin roots, you’d be able to determine the definition of most words without a dictionary. These classic languages are the ancestors of English and will be a huge part of our language forever.

    Reply
  14. Alex Bickerstaff -  July 23, 2012 - 9:56 am

    Personally, when I hand-write something I write all my letters using the capitalized style, however I change the sizes. What would normally be capitalized would be a capital letter in a larger font, and what would be a lower case letter, I write in the capitalized style, but in a small font. And as far as everyone saying that capitalization is necessary to tell when sentences begin and end, I don’t agree. That’s what punctuation is for. Capitilization is all just a matter of personal preference.

    Reply
  15. Eyewitness -  July 12, 2012 - 5:36 pm

    I expect the Dictionary.com editors will prudishly remove this comment, although it has academic merit. Checking the origin of “uncial” through the link provided, I encountered this passage, “…pertaining to an ounce,” from L. uncialis “of an inch, of an ounce…”

    It gave me an insight into the derivation of the product name, Cialis, which is a contemporary erectile dysfunction medication. I don’t mention this for reasons of titilation. I think it is an interesting example of how language, especially Latin, still informs our lives today.

    Reply
  16. Dodger -  June 25, 2012 - 9:52 pm

    As a pagan, I am constantly bewildered by the way the predominant and controlling religions insist I should be tolerant of their belief system that says they should kill me.

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  20. Debra -  April 9, 2012 - 3:13 am

    Another place capitals come in very helpful is to identify proper names. When reading novels in Bengali, which also doesn’t use caps, I have had a lot of trouble figuring out names of characters when their name happens also to be a noun!

    Reply
  21. sherryyu -  April 6, 2012 - 7:39 pm

    this info is very goood i kinda hate caps if u ask me

    Reply
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  23. devilz advicate -  March 6, 2012 - 6:12 pm

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  24. DROTS -  March 6, 2012 - 5:35 pm

    HI PEOPLE OF THE WORLD! how are you guys? capitalization is weird…

    Reply
  25. Typical Idiot -  March 6, 2012 - 10:11 am

    capitolz r useless

    spellingz r 2

    Reply
  26. BOBNAMELESS -  March 6, 2012 - 8:09 am

    theyre annoying only at the beginning of a sentence. not as names or emphasis

    Reply
  27. Ryan (16) -  March 3, 2012 - 11:14 pm

    it may be inelegant to have two ways to separate sentences (the period and the capital letter), but the period can easily go unnoticed without the capital letter. without the period, there would be less distinction between beginning of sentence and indicating proper noun

    Reply
  28. Adrienne -  March 3, 2012 - 7:05 pm

    Listen lahtida, dont be bitter because you cant open your eyes and see that God is real. Maybe if YOU’D get off YOUR high horse and not shoot something down that had to do with the topic, you’d see that God is so good, you’ll want to talk about Him everwhere.
    Anyway, capitals are necessary. Not only do they make our language even more unique, but without them you’d constantly be looking for punctuation, or constantly missing punctuation. That would make reading harder, and it would take more time. Think about it, how much less would you enjoy a book if you always had to go back and reread, looking for a tiny period?

    Reply
  29. KILLER -  March 2, 2012 - 5:29 am

    Well I think everything should just be in capitals LOL

    Reply
  30. KILLER -  March 2, 2012 - 5:27 am

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  31. random person -  March 2, 2012 - 4:53 am

    I like capital letters

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  33. LuluJones -  March 1, 2012 - 11:58 pm

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  34. LuluJones -  March 1, 2012 - 11:57 pm

    Hypocrisy is FUN! :)
    caps lock is technically USELESS UNLESS YOU’RE REALLY MAD

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  35. LuluJones -  March 1, 2012 - 11:56 pm

    Y U No put newer comments on top?

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  36. LuluJones -  March 1, 2012 - 11:55 pm

    Writing without capitals would be almost illegible. With all this texting, though, things may get a little rough.

    “mom can i go to the supermarket”
    Which supermarket? The supermarket down the street, or The Supermarket in Downtown Somewhere?

    Also, this http://www.dictionary.com spell check does not realize “texting” as a word. =P

    Reply
  37. Neb -  March 1, 2012 - 2:39 pm

    i AGREE WITH eD ON APRIL 19, 2011 AT 6:49 AM. i HATE IT WHEN i FORGET THE CAPS LOCK!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  38. Vindu -  March 1, 2012 - 10:18 am

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  39. Scott Bury -  March 1, 2012 - 9:29 am

    Caps are useful for the beginnings of sentences – I think they’re better than just end punctuation alone – and for proper nouns.

    But let’s not overuse them! One of the most common errors that non-professional writers make is capitalizing anything they think is important, like a minor professional title or even a role – like Assistant Chair of the Party Planning Committee.

    Another place where I am on a personal crusade to eliminate overuse of capitalization is in subheadings. Come on, people – let’s agree to use “sentence case” in any subtitle or sub-heading, instead of trying to decide whether a word is important enough to warrant a capital initial.

    Reply
  40. Mary -  February 29, 2012 - 4:14 pm

    Capitalizing, I think, is very useful. Particularly in German, words can get very tricky and sentences hard to read, capitalizing all nouns at least gives you a clue about what the text is talking about. (I speak as a novice German learner :) )

    Reply
  41. MARY TORRES -  February 15, 2012 - 10:52 am

    lol

    Reply
  42. Random -  February 13, 2012 - 7:43 pm

    Oops, fail. I meant to say that you can’t change someone’s belief online.

    Reply
  43. Random -  February 13, 2012 - 7:41 pm

    Personally, I find capitals really annoying to use. I’m a 12 year old native English speaker and, even though mostly everyone here says that the language is easier to read with capitals, I personally don’t.
    it’s actually very easy to read, as long as you use correct punctuation. periods denote the end of a sentence, you don’t need capital letters to see where a sentence begins. See?

    I also agree with Kathleen. No one cares about your religion, you’re not going to change their belief online. Also, when referring to a proper noun, fictional or not, you use uppercase. In any fictional book, you don’t see the main character’s name in lowercase. Therefore, when referring to a deity, you use uppercase, whether you believe that deity is real or not.

    However, you’re not supposed to use a He or She when referring to a deity. There’s no rule in English for that.

    With text messaging and emailing, I personally make heavy use of shortcuts, abbreviations, and emoticons. I actually am lazy, and abbreviations make anything less awkward. Can you imagine typing in response to a joke “laugh out loud”? “LOL” or “lol” would be an acceptable answer, at least in the texting/IM’ing/emailing world, despite being a retarded answer in the real world. Emoticons are a quick way of showing how you feel to something. If you text to someone “I failed a test =(“, it’s a lot less unusual than “I failed a test, oh I’m so sad…”

    That’s just my opinion. Sorry for any grammar or spelling mistakes.

    Reply
  44. xiao lian -  February 12, 2012 - 8:53 pm

    Written Chinese doesn’t have any capitalization thing and the best part is the words are all written together. A space could simply mean the end of the sentence.

    Reply
  45. Denis -  February 12, 2012 - 8:18 pm

    It’s minUscule, people, not miniscule! Even Dictionary.com got it wrong in their penultimate paragraph.

    Reply
  46. justme -  February 12, 2012 - 2:18 pm

    I think that capitals are learned, but in some things they help too. proper nouns in particular, and saying ‘I’. beginning of a sentence, not so much. we get the point with punctuation. but then, is punctuation all that important?

    Reply
  47. Smoore -  February 12, 2012 - 12:33 pm

    In formal writing, I use capital and lower-case letters appropriately. for less academic purposes, i don’t always use capitals. in such cases, i generally only capitalize names and words referencing God.

    Reply
  48. moreRANDR | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  February 12, 2012 - 9:16 am

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  49. o -  February 12, 2012 - 8:27 am

    Kathleen I agree with you. I’m only 15 and I only use the universal abbreviations (like the w/). Also I always use caps right.

    Reply
  50. Kathleen -  February 4, 2012 - 1:00 pm

    I find that I quite enjoy the use of both upper and lowercase letters. Even what Facebooking or IMing, I still attempt retain proper spelling and grammar. I frequently get into arguments over the use of abbreviations and punctuation. I’m only thirteen, but still adamantly believe that the use of abbreviations is stunningly irksome. From what I’ve gathered, most that prefer to use abbreviations use them because they are merely ‘lazy’. I will use acronyms like LOL, ROFL or OMG on occasion but capitalize them. I also will generally spell check forum posts of great length on Microsoft Word before publishing them.
    And those who are debating on all this god shit, it is truly distracting from the comments that actually refer to the topic of capitalization. I personally am an adamant Atheist, and really, I am just tired of all this pointless debating. Neither side will succeed in convincing the other of what they want them to do, so give up. People are either going to openly defy the existence of God, or gods, or will state their vigorous belief. These opinions are not going change, so don’t waste forum space that could be used in direct relevance to the topic of capitalization.

    Reply
  51. sherryyu -  February 1, 2012 - 3:54 pm

    oops i meant debating for fthe first one and im angry for the second one which should be in all CAPS

    Reply
  52. sherryyu -  February 1, 2012 - 3:52 pm

    this is not a debating website nor is it a religious website for the last time!!!!!!!!!!!!!:( imangry

    Reply
  53. sherryyu -  February 1, 2012 - 3:49 pm

    seriously if u want to talk about religon go to a debting website not dictionary.com or go to a religious website for peet sake. ugh (stupid religious ppl)

    Reply
  54. sherryyu -  February 1, 2012 - 3:41 pm

    i meant its too confusing “not again.”says Andrew

    Reply
  55. sherryyu -  February 1, 2012 - 3:40 pm

    ohohohohoh that why i make so mnay capitalzing mistakes and also with gammar it too confusing. Anyway, interesting article

    Reply
  56. Frank Sellers -  February 1, 2012 - 3:34 pm

    Spanish and French capitalization rules are pretty much the same as in English. However, in German you have to capitalize every noun as follows:

    das Haus (the house)
    der Mann (the man)
    die Dame (the woman)
    der Hand (the hand)

    Germans also have beginning quotes at the beginning of a sentence at the bottom or the letter, not the top. And there’s that wonderful snakey letter ‘ess-sett’ which is pronounced like a an ‘s’ and looks like a weird capital ‘B’ – ß.

    Reply
  57. Iyre -  October 28, 2011 - 5:32 pm

    Why we use caps?

    because our sentences would look like this we dont know where it starts or stops just like this

    Reply
  58. Hamid -  October 17, 2011 - 1:35 pm

    Hi. can we use “from” with capital letter in the following title or we should just use it with lower case here?
    The Effect of Ideology on Lexical Selection in Mass Media From the Perspective of CDA

    Reply
  59. Amber -  May 6, 2011 - 9:30 pm

    Texting is a verb. It is an act!

    Reply
  60. valarie -  May 3, 2011 - 5:09 pm

    i like both lower and capital caps :-)

    Reply
  61. S.D.R. -  May 3, 2011 - 1:35 pm

    @Tikitorch: LOL Good one.

    Reply
  62. Maggie -  April 26, 2011 - 12:57 pm

    I only have one exception to the traditional use of capitalization. When filling in handwritten forms I tend to use all caps because I find caps more legible on these type of forms.

    Reply
  63. Lorax -  April 26, 2011 - 10:20 am

    Why do people always have to be so derogatory towards religion and faith? If you’re gonna pick a fight, do it somewhere else. Most of you have incorrect information anyway. You’re just making your selves look stupid. Can’t everyone just get along? This is Dictionary.com for goodness sake, not a debate website! All the argumentative comments get so annoying and downright tiring. Ugh.

    Cool blog though…..

    Reply
  64. Tikitorch -  April 25, 2011 - 5:37 pm

    @rohini: You’re on Dictionary.com. LOOK IT UP.

    Reply
  65. Tikitorch -  April 25, 2011 - 5:34 pm

    @ Leo: Our Language is based off a Christian society. Therefore Joey is right and it’s his opinion is that the comment is cute.

    Reply
  66. Tikitorch -  April 25, 2011 - 5:30 pm

    Capitols ARE important believe it or not, and should be used in proper speech and grammar. We must also realize that, in speed and non-consequential issues, it is not always important. It has helped me in the past and capitols are an important part of the English language.

    @Chris: Whilst I’m offended at your accusation about ALL teenagers(Key word being all). I must consent to your opinion on where language is headed. Also I agree about your belief that we will be easily conquered, though for different reasons. Lastly don’t blame this all on us it was YOUR generation who invented the phones and texting on trial, so don’t go blaming mine.

    @THE_JEDI_MASTER: Thanks for defending the generation.

    @Susanna: If she believes in God, He is real. If you don’t he’s not.
    All is Perception

    P.S. Texting isn’t a verb

    Reply
  67. Daria -  April 25, 2011 - 2:31 pm

    Even in IM capital letters are very useful to emphasize the most important words.

    Reply
  68. Gary -  April 25, 2011 - 7:37 am

    To Eduardo who says,”But still, people have different beliefs and all should be respected…” regarding the use of capitals, you are obviously an optimist who sees the inherent goodness in each of his fellow humans, but I must disagree with your magnanimous conclusion. Sometimes people are just flat out lazy, or are not educated enough to know when a capital letter should be used. In those situations, it is neither expected nor appropriate to value their opinions or approach to the written word as much as we should value the approach to writing that comes from an educated, thoughtful writer who is willing to take the time to write it right.
    As for those who feel that they don’t have to be concerned because there are enough other lazy people around to ensure that capital letters do become obsolete, make sure you only write to people of your own value system, because if you write to me, based on the presentation of your thoughts, I will immediately label you inconsequential.

    Reply
  69. MRCAB -  April 24, 2011 - 10:50 pm

    Helpful.

    Reply
  70. Pinki -  April 24, 2011 - 1:13 pm

    I agree with EmilytheApple…

    Reply
  71. Dimitri -  April 24, 2011 - 10:25 am

    I think that having caps and lower case letters is very useful. I would have grate difficulty reading anything in all lower case or all upper case. People who type in all lower case in their e-mails are just lazy, and people who type in all caps are stupid and full of themselves, and are trying to convey voice inflections and facial expressions through the use of caps, brackets, ampersand, the ‘@’ symbol, and others instead of relying on the language itself. All they achieve with this is show how pour their linguistic skills are.

    Reply
  72. J.D. -  April 24, 2011 - 9:55 am

    In the paragraph above,I misspelled a word. SORRY.

    Reply
  73. J.D. -  April 24, 2011 - 9:34 am

    How would you be able to learn to spell words,learn their meanings.If there are no spaces it is a lot harder to discern where the word ends and another starts.As for capitolization.Leave the English language alone.Leve it like it is.I was in Thailand 15 months.I don’t know if they bunch up their letter or have spaces between their words or not.Most of them on our army base knew english already enough to have a little conversation.Enough to get along.Looks like kindergarteners could learn better by using spaces between words.They could learn it either way because they are young.Have never seen it before.

    Reply
  74. dreadnought -  April 23, 2011 - 5:43 pm

    don marquis would tell you caps are utterly unnecessary except for emphasis. i agree that readability is important, but double spacing between sentences takes care of most of that. now, the geeks who code most websites have conspired to disallow double spacing for reasons far beyond my simple capacity to contemplate, so if this plaintive wail is single-spaced between sentences, don’t blame me. i keyed two.

    Reply
  75. lahtida -  April 23, 2011 - 5:18 pm

    i thought this was about the capitalization of letters not god. all you bible thumpin freaks need to get off your high horse and realize everthing doesn’t need to center around jesus LISA KECK!!!

    Reply
  76. Pamela LaRegina -  April 23, 2011 - 12:49 pm

    I appreciate the attention to the history of capital letters, but I find your history a
    bit inaccurate. Check out the History of Writing by Donald Jackson, or better yet,
    try calligraphy. If you dive into the art form, you will find that capitals are not only necessary, but they also allow for some mighty marvelous artistic indulgences.
    I invite you to my website or to the general subject of Illumination. Though the internet doesn’t seem to provide much in the way of samples, there is a vast and rich
    heritage of illuminated manuscripts out there, as originals in museums, and
    as printed versions via many book sources. Also, check out Paper and Ink, ltd.,
    and John Neal books.
    It was the illuminated manuscripts that lead the way to modern painting, many letter forms, and cartooning! But it is the perfection of the Roman Capitals that led to the unfolding of so many thousands of versions of the alphabet as we know them today.
    It is the underlying principles that keep the A an A, etc. The capital letter was first. The minuscules came afterward to distinguish the initial letter, which guides your eye to the place to start reading, from the text. Everything is reasonable when you really study it.
    It’s wonderful!

    Reply
  77. Clifton Lemon -  April 23, 2011 - 12:26 pm

    Thanks for the informative bit on the history of alphabets. As a graphic designer, I learned that capitalization has a valuable effect on how we perceive words. Some research I remember reading about indicates that we recognize words by their shapes first then by individual letters, and that the part of the brain responsible for this also helps us recognize shapes on the horizon (1). The fact that many alphabets evolved from pictograms only makes this a more fascinating line of inquiry (to me at least).

    Letterform design, layout, the sequencing of words and phrases into larger segments of information, all of these have distinct practical and effective design strategies that have evolved with written language over millenia, based on physical properties of paper, ink, and the ergonomics of eye movement, among other factors. Capitalization is one of these strategies, rather like rests or breaths between musical phrases.

    RE: the physical nature of certain letter styles- the style of capitals also evolved partly in response to the requirement that they be carved in stone, literally, and the incisions were originally intended to hold ink or paint, just as most Greek and Roman sculpture was originally painted. That’s why you see “MVSEVM” on certain buildings- rounded letterforms like U were harder to execute.

    Reply
  78. THE_JEDI_MASTER -  April 23, 2011 - 11:51 am

    If you send a non-capitalized work to a publisher, do you really think you will be taken seriously? Perhaps it will not be this way forever, but as of now we like to use something called capitalization. Surely you’ve heard of it.

    I have observed that many people have written the word “capital” as “capitol”. In this context we are discussing capitals.

    To Chris: I find that insulting. I am a teenager and I would appreciate some respect. It seems more likely that it is you who do not care about proper grammar. If you don’t care about it then that’s okay, but you don’t need to assume that not a single teenager or college student cares about grammar.

    To Susanna: You are obviously entitled to your opinion about religion just as much as everyone else. However, it is likely that you insulted many people by saying that deities are fictional. If you are writing about a specific deity then the name should be capitalized.

    The purpose of this website is for us to learn things. It is not here so we can have our petty arguments. Therefore we should simply state what we think of the article at hand in a calm, non-offensive manner, and try to keep the insults to a minimum.

    Reply
  79. Eddie -  April 22, 2011 - 11:26 pm

    What ever Makes Your bOat FlOaT !!!

    Reply
  80. Omar Lugo -  April 22, 2011 - 9:19 pm

    In commercial law, you’ll find that all capital letters means,

    CAPITUS DOMINIUS MAXIMA: When that particular name represents a commercial entity, not a person or a human-spiritual being, just a corporation.

    Perhaps, if you look at your driver license, birth certificate, credit cards and more, you’ll wonder why? your name is written in all capital letters?

    Drop me a comment if you want more info about it, I’m pleased to serve others.

    Reply
  81. Laya -  April 22, 2011 - 8:48 pm

    Interesting info. Being a native English teacher in Korea has given me a whole new perspective on how using capital letters indicates, as some have previously mentioned here, the beginning of a sentence and emphasis, as when used with proper nouns or otherwise.

    After two years here, I have discovered that the Korean language, probably any language not using a latin lettering system (Chinese, Japanese, Russian, etc.) doesn’t have any form whatsoever of capital letters. My high school students have an extremely difficult time remembering to use capital letters where they should be, as well as proper sentence punctuation.

    At the same time, when I read Korean, I have a hard time telling where to pause, where the sentence ends and begins because there are no capital letters or periods. It’s a big dose of “word vomit.”

    Some food for thought…

    Reply
  82. Amber -  April 22, 2011 - 2:09 pm

    A sentence ends with a period. That is where it ends and then begins another sentence. Or not at all. I just wanted to make sure everyone knew where the sentence ended. There was some confusion from a couple people. eduardo definatly.

    Reply
  83. Dave -  April 22, 2011 - 12:04 pm

    I like proper capital placements with everything but the word ‘I’. The words me and myself are not capitalized, but the other one is? It certainly makes reading much easier; the comment above about ‘word vomit’ was nice, and I feel that way whenever paragraphs run too long or hand print lacks sufficient space.

    Americans (particularly Christians) are so sure that their ideas and faith are correct that they have to enter it in with every blow they can. Look at history, they consistently try to conquer other countries beliefs by pouring unwanted missionaries everywhere. This shouldn’t a debate about religion though, or of religious text, which most are far outdated and not kept with today’s grammar standards. We certainly don’t see people using ‘thou’ and ‘whence’ just like we don’t see people talking like Shakespeare.

    To those that made the comment about offending religion: It may be offensive when someone says something like “fake deity” to any religion, but do you ever think about when you insert your references about a god/gods into a place where there was no need for it? It’s like sticking the abortion topic into everything (it has no need in 99.9% of mathematical papers, so if your not the 0.1%, don’t mention it).

    Reply
  84. Patricia -  April 22, 2011 - 7:31 am

    You know, it does my heart good to see so many comments for a post that has nothing to do with Snookie, Trump, Busey, that mob wife show. This is good.

    I’m not saying I’m perfect, but Twitter practically killed me at first and I still struggle with those 140 characters, because I like to *write*. Caps, commas and all. So squeezing everything into made-up abbreviations in the name of so-called communication insults me. But it is what it is.

    I like EmilyTheApple’s comment on the 18th that without punctuation, caps, etc. it’s all just word vomit. Love that!

    I have to keep reading all the comments. So *this* is where all the cool, smart, thinking people are!

    Reply
  85. Michael Graham -  April 22, 2011 - 4:03 am

    What a great thread!

    @ Martin – a convention of that time period was to capitalize the the first letters of any Important Topic, Subject, or Idea for emphasis (in addition to standard grammar usage of capitals). I feel certain this is because Italics nor bold print were handy options. (For a fun read that uses this format often, see Fart Proudly: Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School). Somewhat ironically, even with today’s technology we cannot count on being able to use italics, bold, or underline for emphasis – or for designating book titles for that matter.

    In my opinion Optional Capitalization is a good idea so long as it’s not overused, whilst following grammatical rules for English at the same time.

    @ Steve Foster covers this in his post on April 19, along with some other very good points especially concerning the Deity topic. I do not agree with him that miXeD cApITAlizaTIoN would be equally easy to read after time (see @ Gary the graphic artist who makes an excellent point).

    Several people mention texting as the demise of the English language from multiple attacks. I personally text frequently and I do not use any ‘shortcuts’ such as ‘u,’ ‘ur,’ meet4lnch,’ etc. I find it Unfortunate that this Laziness is spilling over into other parts everyday messaging. By the way, this is not limited to English by any means. On the other hand, I think the re-emergence of emoticons (yes they have been around long before computers) is a good trend and enhances communication.

    @ Bryan H. Allen – wow, very nice essay indeed – much more thoughtful than the original blog! I tend to disagree with you only on the topic of digital programming languages. I object that most are written in English – I consider them to be their own language; albeit derived from English (see your example after “try to decipher”). I would refer to what you are describing as Syntax (or derivative of), which is of much greater importance in digital language than it is in English. To expand on your example of variables, case can indicate data type (not so much for the compiler, but for other coders). However, when this issue transfers from the programming realm to everyday use, it becomes considerably more relevant IMHO. [I will now concede that I use at least one type of shortcut]. Your example of typing in a URL (or when a space is disallowed) is a good one and I have always heard “CamelCase” used to describe this convention. I find it to be a good term and propose that in “contiguous [variable] title case” you have written the optimal definition.

    English is not as beautiful as many languages, but it is one of the best because of how adaptable and dynamic it can be. Unlike French, we [thankfully] do not have a governmental entity on the rules of grammar, and every rule need not be Right or Wrong.

    so i suppose i will adapt to new convention if i must BUT I DON’T WANT TO! :-)

    Reply
  86. Aliu Samson -  April 22, 2011 - 12:35 am

    To comment on what you guys have have written is only overflogging the issue. Intereting to know that people are still conscious of such topic. Nice one everybody.

    Reply
  87. Japanalana -  April 21, 2011 - 10:45 pm

    Japanese is a unicase language, too. Aside from the kanji (chinese characters) the hiragana and katakana alphabets have no upper or lower case.

    French is flexible: titles can be capitalized like English titles or only the first letter of the title. Your choice!

    Reply
  88. TOM SERVO -  April 21, 2011 - 7:44 pm

    Capitalization is one thing that should just come naturally to “die Sprache”. (Yes, in Germany in the noun “language” is capitalized.) This is 2011. Our intelligence can show a little leg and get noticed. By now, your pinkie should just instinctively know, HIT THE SHIFT KEY.

    (unless youre one of those, you know, indie bloggers who think its cool to keep it on the bare minimum and let the context speak for itself. you digg? lol.)

    Spelling really bugs me too, but for for a writer the misuse of punctuation is even more annoying. Let’s take Hot Word, the author of this post, as a for instance:

    “Weigh in, below, but remember, ALL CAPS can be a bit overwhelming.”

    Too many commas? You bet. It might as well look like this:

    Weigh, in, below, but, remember, ALL CAPS, can, be, a, bit overwhelming,,.

    To use “indie blogger” parlance:

    :-p

    Reply
  89. A Person -  April 21, 2011 - 6:51 pm

    I think knowing where and when to use capitals is important; I’m a bit of a grammar/punctuation stickler. I only wish my family members were that way…oh well. A little slip-up every now and then is okay, as long as you realize your mistake and are willing to fix it! I also approve of using it for yelling. RRRAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWRRRRRRRR!

    Reply
  90. :o) -  April 21, 2011 - 5:26 pm

    English up to the 18th century capitalized all nouns, not just proper nouns. Even now, German and many other German dialects/languages that have standard written forms capitalizes all nouns. Read some of the early printings of the Gentleman’s Magazine (John Nichols’s multi-volume facsimile reprinting of all the editions of the monthly London based periodical that started in 1731 is available from Google Books), an original or early printing of Robinson Crusoe, or a transcription of the of the original US Constitution to get a feeling of how that reads.

    Reply
  91. Cotillion -  April 21, 2011 - 4:22 pm

    @ Susanna: So you don’t capitalise the name of any deity?

    Tra-la-la-lah la-la-lah la-la-lah

    Reply
  92. Suzanne -  April 21, 2011 - 3:28 pm

    Never mind worrying about when and where to use capitals…….I think it’s more important to be able to spell correctly. Most of the comments here are veritably sprinkled with spelling errors. For people supposedly interested in words and their meanings, maybe you should check your dictionaries more often and learn how to spell !

    Reply
  93. dude -  April 21, 2011 - 11:30 am

    lols ;)

    Reply
  94. :D -  April 21, 2011 - 10:40 am

    And by the way,

    “Susanna on April 18, 2011 at 9:03 pm
    The use of upper and lower cases works wonderfully when used properly! ME LIKEY!!! *snicker*

    Susanna on April 18, 2011 at 9:05 pm
    And I never use capital letters to refer to a fictional deity.”

    - I don’t see why many of you guys up there are saying she’s “bringing religious matter” up.

    ” …I found the last comment to be completely unnecessary; you are most definately supposed to say it as ‘Him,’ but did this really have to be made a religious fight with “fictional deity?” Lisa’s comment was sweet to include that side note, and it’s her belief – you do not need to try to offend.”

    - First of all, you’re supposed to say it as “definitely” (not definately) – and second, she only said that SHE never uses capitalization for fictional deities. What if she’s an Atheist? Here, you are the one who left an unnecessary comment. Did she say anything about Lisa’s comment? No, she didn’t. You are telling her that she has to write it “Him”, therefore you are sort of “offending” her, if her “religion” is Atheism, or even if she’s Christian, she can spell whatever she wants the way she wants it.

    - I just found that really funny, how many of you guys jumped on her and started talking useless cr*p.

    :D

    Reply
  95. brl -  April 21, 2011 - 10:28 am

    But what about the Polish who polish things?

    Reply
  96. Dominic -  April 21, 2011 - 6:52 am

    That’s a pretty cool idea of how caps came along.

    I do see the importance of capital letters, but I don’t particularily like them. I am a web developer, and I often run into problems with a capital I being the same as a lowercase l (i and L), or something to that effect. I quite often have to do things like change the font, or just let it be and hope that viewers can imply the difference.

    In any case though, I do believe that capital letters serve an important purpose when it comes to things like seperating sentences and thoughts, simply because it helps mark a difference in the text that us fast reading Americans wouldn’t realize anyways.

    Reply
  97. Bill -  April 21, 2011 - 6:13 am

    LOTS OF GOOD ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST MINISCULE LETTERS ARE STATED HERE, BUT I PERSONALLY HAVE NEVER BEEN A FAN OF MINISCULE LETTERS. I FIND THEM REDUNDANT, AND FEEL, SOMETIMES, THAT THEY MAKE TEXT DIFFICULT TO READ. ESPECIALLY WHEN HANDWRITING SOMETHING, MAJUSCULE LETTERS ARE MUCH EASIER TO DECIPHER THAN MINISCULE. BUT WHO WRITES BY HAND ANYMORE, EH? IT’S SO 20TH CENTURY!

    Reply
  98. kate -  April 21, 2011 - 5:18 am

    iiiiiilove

    Reply
  99. Erwin -  April 21, 2011 - 4:20 am

    “i simply am not going to bother with the shift key to post on blogs or text to friends and family.”

    inthatcasewhybotherwiththespacekeyanywaythegreeksdidnotdoiteithersowhyshouldyouright

    Reply
  100. Jewels -  April 20, 2011 - 11:45 pm

    In Spanish, the personal pronoun “yo” (I) is written in lower case.

    Reply
  101. Jewels -  April 20, 2011 - 11:42 pm

    Doesn’t this whole capital-and-lower-case-letters topic ring a bell? E.E. Cummings and personal pronoun I in lower case (i)… anyone?

    Reply
  102. Blue sock -  April 20, 2011 - 10:02 pm

    I LIKE CAPITALS. Without them text is so much worse to read. They just make sense but I suppose that’s because we grow up being taught to use them. Still I like like capitals and chose to use them. I only use the caps lock button though cause up until recently, when my best friend Louise pointed it out that I always use caps lock, I never new holding down shift did the same thing and well I don’t really care to break my life long habit. Haha I don’t know how I never knew this. Louise tells me it’s VERY common knowledge.

    Reply
  103. Book Beater -  April 20, 2011 - 9:32 pm

    I can’t belive I read that much of that drivel.
    We in each of our languages have set rules reguarding how we write what we write
    As for the poor addled religous woman who wanted to capitalize the g in her deities descriptor, that would be propper. However to capilalize the m in His mercy would not.
    So if you want to claim artistic license in your writen communications, dont be surprised if you’re chastised.

    Reply
  104. danineteen -  April 20, 2011 - 7:51 pm

    @Cyberquill: Your username uses a capital and you used capitals in your comment. Also, is “TMing” text-messaging? o_O

    Reply
  105. Natalie -  April 20, 2011 - 6:44 pm

    In everyday English, I appreciate the use of capitals to mark the beginning of a sentence or a proper noun. This helps me read easily and separate the sentences.

    Also, as a lover of metaphors, I like being able to use capitalization to emphasize or personify a concept (Love, Death, etc.).

    Reply
  106. gothceltgirl -  April 20, 2011 - 5:37 pm

    So many (for the most part) well-written comments. It’s refreshing to see so many all together in one place. Aside from a few snarky, rude, and/or insulting ones, this was a pretty cool list of comments to read. I don’t have anything to add, just wanted to give a virtual high-five to those smartly written contributions. :-)

    Reply
  107. Francis -  April 20, 2011 - 5:03 pm

    My left eye was gone. sorry

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  108. Francis -  April 20, 2011 - 5:03 pm

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH! I -

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  109. inviting a handlename -  April 20, 2011 - 3:58 pm

    Adding to the previous post, someone like a big shot in business and politics and a Yakuza of old tend to uses “atashi” as the first person.

    Reply
  110. inviting a handlename -  April 20, 2011 - 3:48 pm

    We do not have capitalization in Japanese. No gender rules in verb either. A proper noun counts. There are dozens way to denote the first person. The speech varies depending on the gender: when young up to the middle age, their speech is “otoko kotoba”, which literally means “man language” but a funny thing is when they grow older, they tend to speak “onna kotoba”, that is “woman language.”

    Steven Segall, who speaks moderately fluent Japanese, was on the Japanese TV show several years and called himself “atashi” as the first person. The pronoun is predominantly used among women, drag queens and men of old hands. There is a very fine line in usage of it and the Segall’s speech is very intriguing.

    Reply
  111. Ray Shell -  April 20, 2011 - 3:32 pm

    This is cool. I think its interesting how we learn about this.

    I like Cyberquill’s (first person’s ) comment. :p

    I also like Emily’s under that. *word vomit*

    Anyway, I agree with Emily. Capitals make words distinct and makes our English English not just some weird blob or words.

    I’m glad we have lowercase letter.

    WRITING LIKE THIS IS UNCOMFORTABLE AND FAT.

    Reply
  112. Colleen -  April 20, 2011 - 3:20 pm

    Capital letters always help me when skimming something for a specific name or place. It’s easier to find an “A” in the middle of a mostly lower-case sentence than an “a.”

    jdkhgaAkydhfkjshg

    And, Martin, who commented earlier today at 8:40, I think all nouns in English used to be capitalized, and I would guess that practice has faded away in English.
    In German, all nouns are capitalized, and it’s neat how much it doesn’t make sense to see “Warum lese Ich ein buch?” (“ich” being “I” and never capitalized) just as much as it doesn’t make sense to see “Why am i reading a Book?”

    Reply
  113. lola mayau -  April 20, 2011 - 3:15 pm

    i am not a big fan of capital letter

    Reply
  114. mouthpiecenik -  April 20, 2011 - 3:00 pm

    Dear Bryan H. Allen (April 19, 2011 at 3:43 pm):

    The epithet was not gratuitous. It was earned.

    Reply
  115. Weed_wacker -  April 20, 2011 - 2:59 pm

    “Does it evince any disrespect to call my Aunt Helen, aunt helen? larry”

    Actually Larry, it only proves your ignorance. While I understand the point you are trying to make by calling her “aunt helen,” when you say “call my Aunt Helen,” it should actually be “call my aunt Helen.” Unless, of course, she belongs to you. If that is the case, then perhaps you have bigger problems than a unwarranted dislike of capital letters. If you need help understanding, keep in mind that “Helen” is acting as an appositive that is necessary to understanding your sentence.

    With as much respect as I can spare for a capitalization hater,
    Weed_wacker

    Reply
  116. Dylan -  April 20, 2011 - 2:19 pm

    D the best capital letter

    Reply
  117. Karen -  April 20, 2011 - 2:11 pm

    I know capitals are useful and all that but I don’t enjoy them very much.
    When typing, it ruins my rhythm to have to reach for the shift key and then when writing, the letters don’t flow as well with each other.

    Reply
  118. Aster Uchiha -  April 20, 2011 - 1:54 pm

    I think capitial letters are very useful. There’s a lot that can be missed when words are written, as opposed to spoken. Captial letters add expression. I’m also a fan of italics, bold, underline, emoticons and “…” They give those silent letters on the page a voice!
    Just to prove my point…

    I’M YELLING INSIDE YOUR HEAD.

    See? Try that without capitals.

    Reply
  119. Molly -  April 20, 2011 - 1:36 pm

    capitalization at the beginning of sentences is helpful when you’re proofreading, but not entirely necessary. i hate capitalizing proper nouns, however, and frequently do not. so there, take that, capitalization!!!

    Reply
  120. AA -  April 20, 2011 - 10:33 am

    Interesting; In Arabic, there is no such thing as capital letters :D
    Also I find capitals annoying when typing ;)

    Reply
  121. Anonymous -  April 20, 2011 - 10:21 am

    That’s pretty cool. I find that a lot of my friends have no love for grammer like me. (sad face)

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  122. Larry -  April 20, 2011 - 9:25 am

    I think capitalization is an inconsistent and artificial construct that is not necessary to good communication. I have two friends who independently use no capitalization and I don’t think it impairs of hinders communication in the least. Trying to decide on whether to capitalize a world like earthlink seems a tedious and unnecessary task. Naturally, I realize that I am a slave to capitalization and so is the language. Like words that are conventions but make no sense–such as the “f” sound in enough, capitalization will endure so we might as well accept it in english (oops, I mean English) or icelandic (oops, I mean Icelandic). Think of all the keystrokes we could save if we didn’t have to capitalize words like Palagian or Phobos. Does it evince any disrespect to call my Aunt Helen, aunt helen? larry

    Reply
  123. Martin -  April 20, 2011 - 8:40 am

    I haven’t had a chance to read all the responses regarding Capitals and their proper usage. But i have a question:
    What is the significance of the use of Capitals on certail words such as “Citizen” in the U. S. Constitution?
    Can anyone help?
    Thanks

    Reply
  124. Calum Carlyle -  April 20, 2011 - 7:48 am

    obviously, given there are many linguistic traditions that don’t use capitalisation, it’s not utterly necessary, but it can help. For example, in Hebrew, they had no punctuation, this makes certain OT passages ambiguous of meaning, it’s as simple as that, but my point is that punctuation wasn’t *necessary* for them, well, if they didn’t mind being misunderstood from time to time!

    As you’ll have noticed, i capitalise at the start of sentences, and follow all the current capitalisation rules for English (proper nouns and sentences all get capitals at the beginning) but i don’t follow the convention of capitalising the first person personal pronoun, as i think that’s just egotism! :-)

    I do do it at the start of a sentence, obviously, but unless it’s a formal piece of writing of some sort (eg when i’m at work), i don’t capitalise the word “i”.

    Regarding capitalising deities, this isn’t a special case, as Casey pointed out above. The name of God is a proper noun, whereas the noun “god” is not, eg in this sentence: “God found it perplexing that so many people chose to believe in gods other than He.” – actually in that example, you’ll see i capitalised “He”, which i suppose is a special case. I don’t think many followers of Abrahamic religions would even notice nowadays, but you’re supposed to capitalise He and Him etc when referring to the neverending, never shanging deity, apparently. Personally i doubt God Him/Herself minds too much.

    And Another Thing…
    Titles are another great thing for having capitals in them. I have no idea why i follow the rules i do for titles, but here they are. Conjunctions don’t get capitalised unless they’re at the beginning of the title, but every other word does. eg:

    The Finer Points of Life, and How I Dealt With the Stress of It All

    Probably, i should have capitalised every word, maybe it looks more messy the way it is. That’s how they taught me in primary school though.

    CaPiTaLiSaTiOn cAN mAke TEXT hArDeR to ReAD thOUgh, if UseD WRONGLY, but it’s not as bad as poorly punctuated word’s, or Ppl who carnt spel proplee, wot u think?

    Reply
  125. jesualdo correia -  April 20, 2011 - 7:39 am

    Sanskrit and its derived languages do not use capital letters, nor does Arabic.
    Chinese, of course, makes no such difference in the use of characters, but in
    transcription I think that capitals should not be used at all, which is more than
    often disregarded.

    Reply
  126. Wrasfish -  April 20, 2011 - 7:36 am

    So, why don’t we use capital numbers?

    Reply
  127. Aleigha -  April 20, 2011 - 7:14 am

    this looks so awesome i mean like y cant they have it like this now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  128. louis paiz -  April 20, 2011 - 6:58 am

    In correct grammar must start titles,name, of persons, cities,proper names after a period or a new paragraph one must to write a capital letter.such as Doctor,Profesor,Charlie, John,New York Connecticut,etc.
    thanks.

    Reply
  129. Clark -  April 20, 2011 - 3:14 am

    I capitalize Hell, after all its the name of a place, you know like, Wichita Falls Texas.

    Reply
  130. Madcom -  April 20, 2011 - 2:46 am

    I am a professional copy-writer working often for engineering firms. I think many engineers think that words like Contract and Project are sacred and therefore must be capitalised. I spend 10% of my time decapitalising their work.

    Reply
  131. Roland -  April 20, 2011 - 12:17 am

    I’ve been working on my never-ending novel in English for years, and I can’t see this major world language, ever losing its “capital” use at the beginning of a sentence for decades to come—that is, if both writers and readers of the language want to maintain a coherence, or order, that makes for easy comprehension and exchange of information. One confusion or irritation that will result if you take this feature away, albeit minor, is when you go to the next page that starts with a sentence, you might think it doesn’t after a break, or if you simply happen to lose your train of thought—so why even fix something that really works! And my brain responds more comfortably when using capital “I” to say “I love you” to someone, and to change it on paper to a small “i” somewhat diminishes the strength of my undying affection. I’m pretty sure romantic Don Quixote, expressing his adoration for his Dulcinea, would agree with me wholeheartedly!

    And capitalization adds variety and, don’t be surprised, beauty! A 1,000-plus epic novel with no capitals would be a bit bland to my aesthetic sense even if it’s an all-time great.

    I’m a Filipino who speaks and writes Tagalog, which also adheres to the same strict rule, but I can tell anyone, very confidently, that English, no matter how hard other races try to eradicate it from their school system and everyday life, can never be put down and will survive as we become more and more global. It’s a beautiful language and much easier to learn than others, so why be prejudiced against it when it’s inevitable to become our world language—even our fellow Earthlings in China, some billion strong, will do better to master it. Another billion strong, India, already steeped in it and economically growing by leaps and bounds, is better equipped for the morrow.

    Besides, I need you guys to learn it as much as you can, capitalization and all, so you can appreciate more the door-stopper novel I hope to publish soon!

    Reply
  132. Buck -  April 19, 2011 - 11:06 pm

    As an ESL instructor, one distressing aspect of teaching English to non-English speakers is the influence of text messaging on the practice of capitalization in formal writing. Since it seems to have become too much work to capitalize words in a text message, so also in formal written English. The proper use of capital letters seems to be disappearing as a basic written compositional skill. I suppose this has become common among younger native English speakers as well. Many of the academic essays I assign often come to me without the initial letter of a sentence capitalized, this as well as the first person singular pronoun, proper nouns–even the name of the class, my name or the student’s own name.
    My suspicion is that text messaging may influence change in the conventions of capitalization among the ranks of more formal writers. I see already that web editors and journalists do not capitalize the main words in titles of their stories, just the first words. This is in contrast to the practice of newspaper journalism of the era before the Internet. Who knows if the shift key may disappear from our keyboards (or other input devices) in the next 50 years?

    Reply
  133. Monique -  April 19, 2011 - 10:42 pm

    Capitlizationdoes make it easier to read large amounts of text. Interesting how typing in ALL CAPS is perceived as the online version yelling, while when texting, many people don’t capitalize for the sake of speed. I don’t think that capitalization and vowels will go the way of dinosaurs because of texting protocols and shorthand.

    Reply
  134. Kie -  April 19, 2011 - 8:37 pm

    I am studying architecture. The professional standard (At least here in Canada) is to ONLY use uppercase in our printing, so I have gotten used to that when writing things out with a pencil or pen. When typing, howerver, I find capitalisation to be helpful for emphasis.

    Sometimes I wish there were a “middle case”, but on the other extreme, I also love writing in Hindi and not having to worry about capitalisation either way.

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  135. James -  April 19, 2011 - 8:32 pm

    It seems to me once again Arabic wins.

    Reply
  136. Casey -  April 19, 2011 - 7:11 pm

    In reference to Susanna’s comment. When writing the name of a deity, whether fictional or real, you are referring to a specific idea. In the English language, a noun is a person, place, thing, or idea and a proper noun is a specific person, place, thing, or idea. Thus, if you write the name of a deity, you refer to a specific person, thing, or idea. This makes the deity’s name a proper noun and you should always capitalize proper nouns. So, your comment, while valid as your opinion, indicates that you don’t have much experience with the English language. Also, it seems a little confrontational.

    Reply
  137. Chelsea-Brooke -  April 19, 2011 - 7:06 pm

    Interesting..

    Reply
  138. Nitya -  April 19, 2011 - 5:53 pm

    Thank you Brian H. Allen. Such a learned treatment of the subject, and so well put!
    I read the comments for just such contibutions>

    Reply
  139. upper case y? -  April 19, 2011 - 5:14 pm

    i never use capitals but i guess its important so people wil no were the sentence starts! Dont u think? think u dont?

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  140. Arcanis -  April 19, 2011 - 4:55 pm

    the casing is to provide importance to some words and give emotion or emphasis on others, that being said, there are some languages (or codes) that depend on a single symbol for each of our letters, and can be used for both casings. however, there is a code not many people would know that is similar to english in structure, but it doesn’t look like it and the lower case wasn’t provided

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  141. Alex -  April 19, 2011 - 4:47 pm

    Using capital letters incorrectly, or misusing them, is very annoying. I could live with unicase if I was born with it, but now it would be weird. I do like caps overall. It makes me feel important every time I get to capitalize the word “I” :)

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  142. Arcanis -  April 19, 2011 - 4:43 pm

    upper case and lower case is what makes the language harder, some codes that i frequently write in doesn’t have any lower case, so any one can learn it BUT WRITING ENTIRELY LIKE THIS CAN OVERSTRESS THE EMOTION GENERALLY ASSOCIATED WITH ALL CAPS. ALSO, THE DIFFERENT CASINGS ARE TO CREATE EFFECTS WITH EMOTION, which is why writing somewhat like this is better.

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  143. ♥ran♥ -  April 19, 2011 - 4:15 pm

    Reading something without using proper capitalization is annoying to my eyes.

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  144. Ennelin -  April 19, 2011 - 3:55 pm

    Calling the letters uppercase and lowercase dates back from the time of Gutenberg and his movable type. The capital letters were placed in the upper section of the case of letters, and the miniscule letters were placed in the bottom, or lower portion, thus uppercase and lowercase. But thats cool about how uppercase letters started. I find capitalization very helpful. I get bored reading things that are unicase, there is no variance, and it doesn’t look sophisticated. But on the other hand, it is fine for casual notes and such…

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  145. Bryan H. Allen -  April 19, 2011 - 3:43 pm

    The Hot Word titled “Why do we use capital and lower case letters, and how did both types come to be?” (emphasis added).  (“We” plainly means English-language readers.)

    Then, the Hot Word declared, “In contrast, many other writing systems such as the Georgian language and Arabic make no distinction between upper and lowercase lettering – a system called unicase.”

    If anyone introduces the general from the particular, it should be done fairly and accurately, with justice to the general, granting the reader a working understanding of it.  However, the Hot Word’s quoted declaration would lead many a reader to infer, incorrectly, that multi-case alphabets are common or usual in the world.  Behold, “…many other writing systems…”.

    I am glad that I checked an additional source of facts before writing here.  I already knew that capital letters (or charac­ters?) were exceptional amongst the world’s writing systems, but I mistakenly thought that only European alphabets had them: Greek, Latin, and Cyrillic.  However, I discovered today, two (geographically) Middle Eastern alphabets have them too: Coptic and Armenian.  As the Coptic alphabet much resembles Greek, that is not surprising.  But shame on me, I had failed to learn that the Armenian alphabet has them too, especially as I live near Glendale, CA, USA, where signs in Armenian are plentiful.

    Reading from the same source reminded me that, while Japanese writing has no case per se, the secondary katakana syllabary functions like one—or like italic type.  Indeed, Japanese Kanji and Korean Hanja are related to their phonetic writing systems (syllabaries and home-grown Hangŭl alphabet, respectively) much like letter cases.

    The lesson for all readers from that is the need for everyone’s advance recognition of the pitfall of incipient conceptual myopia or obtuseness(Proselytistic fundamentalists and proselytistic atheists alike, that means you whenever you wield your bloody ¡annoying! axes in peaceful oases.  “Bloody” is the faintest practical shoo-fly cuss word here.)

    Anyway, for fairness and justice to the general, the Hot Word should have declared, “…almost all other writing systems‌…have no upper- versus lower-case characters – a system called unicase”.

    “Do you find capitalization to be helpful or annoying?”, the Hot Word then asked.  A postulated “ideal” language would have pairs of minuscule and majuscule letters, but the use of capital letters would be quite rarefied.  For example, Spanish capitalization rules are frugal and much superior to the English rules.  (Advice to readers: “When in doubt, don’t capitalize.”  The obvious exception is where some sensitive audience is easily offended from its omission.  Don’t doubt then; just do—as the proverbial Romans do.)

    For example, another omission in the Hot Word’s web log is the recent-modern use of word-initial capital letters as a substitute for the space character (" ") where its use is disallowed.  The intervention of a capital letter allows the reader to recognize word boundaries with less effort, more quickly, and with less-frequent error.  Indeed, where the reader does not recognize the letter sequence, this spaceless title case lets the reader guess its meaning with less unreliability.  (Example: Guess.  Does “bmp” mean bump?  Does “bMp” mean bump or “bit map”, a class of simple digital image file?)  The earlier-alluded source offered the descriptive term “CamelCase” (but exactly how many humps have camels?).

    In digital programming, the names of “variables” (citable data-storage cells, analogous to algebraic variables) may not include spaces, but most programming languages allow mixtures of upper- and lower-case letters and post-initial numerals.  Many internet sites exclude spaces from their URIs, and spaces complicate the URIs where permitted.  (%20 is the hexadecimal representation, and it inhibits legibility.)

    However, absent spaces and capital letters, reading “whatyoumaycallitnonsense.info”, may need a slow or second reading for comprehension.  In case-insensitive HTML, mixed-case <elements> are permitted and more readable.  However, XHTML and XML exclude them, and case-sensitive RTF sometimes requires but mainly excludes mixed-case \keywords .  (Try to decipher “\itap0”, “\brdrbtw”, “\htmautsp”, “\lnbrkrule”, “\nolnhtadjtbl” in RTF, or <colgroup> in XHTML—cf. Colgate.  All are written in English!  Compare that with “wdCollapseStart” in VBA or <ColGroup> in HTML.  How much more persuasive should I make it?)

    Has any reader encountered better nomenclature for this pattern of capital-letter use?  I propose contiguous title case” or, colloquially, “squashed title case” or “collapsed title case”, unless others can adduce a new, superior formulation.  Can you?

    My dear “mouthpiecenik” (April 19, 2011 at 9:16 am), you wrote incisive, intelligent things, but you ruined it with a gratuitous epithet, as if you had released a wart into the fresh spring air.  (You know what I intentionally misspelled.)  Mehr Licht!  Less thermal pollution, please.  (Your moniker’s readability would benefit from the “contiguous title case”: MouthPieceNik.)

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  146. charliey -  April 19, 2011 - 3:43 pm

    puncuation dont really matter that much.maybe when ur doing a ginormic paper tht an old teacher is grading,but as long as there are punctuations, i can tell where the sentence starts and ends.

    ~batmann(:

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  147. Rebecca -  April 19, 2011 - 2:55 pm

    I go with every comment

    Reply
  148. Nate -  April 19, 2011 - 2:54 pm

    I believe that capitalization is a decent way to understand what a story or essay is saying. Without capitals, only periods, question marks, etc. will decide the separation of words. Also, what about names? Are they important?

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  149. katiE -  April 19, 2011 - 2:31 pm

    i NotICED eveRyone used CaPITAL letters whEn theY left their comments; i couldN’T reSiSt.

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  150. Nitya -  April 19, 2011 - 2:22 pm

    I can always tell the American contributors because they bring religion into their comments. A large part of the English speaking world does not do this! It is irrelevant!
    We are discussing capital letters.

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  151. word junkie -  April 19, 2011 - 2:09 pm

    @ Kevin #1:

    Great, now she’ll have to kill ya.

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  152. SSE -  April 19, 2011 - 1:59 pm

    my Example of Capitalization usage
    “God” is a title not a name, not a proper noun, therefor in actuality should not be capitalizes. just as the king would not be capitalized. Elohim, often used as “God’s” name, is the Hebrew plural of god (male AND female) should not be capitalized either. Of course to people who Believe (the BIBLE) all these words denote much more than proper nouns they are Life It self; and must be capitalized. For others who are have the belief the Great I AM is their Core Essenes only Capitalize for emphasis. For those whom there is no divine, we could get a little sarcastic and say: they deserve nothing capitalized within their tiny insignificant lives much like an ant in a mound.

    Thus ends my Example of Capitalization usage, And my tirade about bringing GOD, God, god, or is it RELIGION, (not spirituality) into a subject that need no imput from him or Her.

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  153. d, -  April 19, 2011 - 1:55 pm

    Xela, it also amazes me that folks want us to respect their opinion but display a lack of knowledge about spelling or grammar. If the written word is all they have to represent themselves, they should take more care in what they post.

    I also tend to get lazy about caps in personal messages. I call it what it is, laziness.
    In professional messages grammar must be correct.
    In art, it depends on the work, as Gary posted.

    Those of you fussing over God vs. god, please stay on topic.

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  154. Christian -  April 19, 2011 - 1:09 pm

    Doesn’t bother my at all. It can be a little bit annoying at times to type however, but when it comes to handwriting, it’s a rather simple task.

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  155. Hegetarian -  April 19, 2011 - 1:07 pm

    O Susanna,

    Do you eschew capitalization even when using an anagram for a fictional deity, as in the FSM? (I’m not sure that Pastafarians would be particularly displeased anyway.)

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  156. Francis -  April 19, 2011 - 12:30 pm

    @ Chris, I totally agree, and instead of saying lol,I will say laughing out loud.

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  157. Francis -  April 19, 2011 - 12:28 pm

    I just find it annoying to switch. I LIKE BEING ABLE TO WRITE LIKE THIS

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  158. Xela Yrag -  April 19, 2011 - 11:42 am

    I am reading these comments on the proper grammatical use of capitals (yes, capitals – not capitols, which are houses for centers of government, as in the Capitol Building for the State of West Virginia is in Charleston), and I cannot help but notice the grammatical issues (your used instead of you’re, a comma used where a semicolon is needed, etc.). I am not talking about the deliberate misuses of capitals and grammar; only the ones that appear to be accidental.

    I can only say, “Wow. Have we really gone that far down the tubes?”, and shake my head in wonderment.

    I do not bother to capitalize (or add apostrophes for that matter) in personal emails, text messages, and other informal communication. Business letters and emails, research papers, and other formal means of communication require adherence to the more strict grammatical rules we are taught in school.

    Disclaimer – I am not an English teacher.

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  159. J -  April 19, 2011 - 11:39 am

    @Leo, et al,

    I don’t think you understand the concept of “free speech”. Free speech is a legal, not a social principle. Speaking out against someone or something is in no way related to free speech. “Joey” was not coming to arrest you or fine you for what you said, therfore he is not in the least curtailing your freedom of speech. The problem with America today is they confuse social and legal which leads to a society in which it will eventually be illegal to hurt someone’s feelings, which despite how strongly you may feel about it, emotions should never be addressed in law.

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  160. Thomas -  April 19, 2011 - 11:30 am

    @ Susanna

    You should be ashamed of yourself, just because you don’t believe in a particular faith does not give you any right to act so obnoxious.

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  161. Chris -  April 19, 2011 - 11:26 am

    Most American teens and college students don’t care about proper grammar and spelling anyway. So who cares? The English language is going to devolve into a series of grunts and words made popular by terrible rappers, which will make the inevitable invasion of American soil quite easy, because we will have no way to defend ourselves since we’ll all be a bunch of apes running around trying to find pictures looking up the skirts of underage celebrities online.

    Don’t believe me? Start calling your friends out for their misspellings and say it makes it hard to read and there are rules to language for a reason, and see how many quote that damn study saying letter order doesn’t actually matter in comprehension and reading. See how many use that study to validate their ignorance, apathy and lack of education.

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  162. Postman -  April 19, 2011 - 11:19 am

    Try locating a written passage without convention.

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  163. Steve Foster -  April 19, 2011 - 11:15 am

    WELL, OTHERS HAVE MADE SOME DEMONSTRATIONS. LET’S TRY IT OUT AGAIN. “MY, THE WEATHER IS NICE TODAY.” IS THIS DIFFICULT OR ANNOYING TO READ? The real point is that we’ve become culturally habituated since the rise of Internet, if not before, to only ever express harsh speech with all capitals, so now we automatically link them with “shouting”.

    The only inherent difference between upper- and lower-case letters is the use of “ascenders” and “descenders”, which apply to… let’s see… 8 letters (b d f h i k l t), and 5 other letters (g j p q y), totalling to half of the alphabet. While every letter naturally possesses its own dimensions in both the upper and lower cases (I/i is thin; M/m and W/w are fatter), the small ones have a three-tiered vertical distinction — but there’s nothing stopping anybody from using miniature versions of capitals, or off-setting them on the line. For that matter, there’s nothing to keep us from drawing new little ascenders and descenders on the capitals — except that we already have such a set. But anyway, I don’t think it has been reliably proven that we innately read lower-case, with its vertical deviations, more easily, beyond having merely become accustomed to them. If that were the case, I wouLD aLso exPecT THIs KinD oF wrITInG to Be sImPLer anD QuIcKer To reaD. In fact, if you read over it five or ten times, you’ll find it equally simple; it wouldn’t take long to get used to those 13 letters in that shape.

    Then, do we have too many letters? Or are we lucky to have two versions, because we can emphasize things? actually, puntuation and position already clearly show sentence boundaries. that rule may be a bit superfluous, giving us these giant cartoon-character beginnings just because we’re lazy readers, and our periods are too small. again, i think it’s mostly habit.

    Capitals for proper nouns are possibly dying out in some contexts, such as searches and electronic talk; but that’s part of a long trend in English. I believe it was mostly over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries that we went from Capitalizing nearly every Significant Word to capitalizing only “proper nouns”. So it’s linguistically meaningful for some Christians to be enlarging their pronouns and nouns for Manifestations of Deity — imbuing text with attributes of the physical world, AS WE HAVE DONE WITH SHOUTING (and hinting, and so on). That practice of exalting divine pronouns didn’t surface in the KJV, though, excepting only the continued alteration of the Hebrew name of the Lord. Historical usage of capitals would make an interesting extension to this article.

    And, by the way, if a person dislikes or disbelieves in Obama because he’s never met him, and then gets mad at anybody who capitalizes Obama’s name, or makes crude, sarcastic retorts at the first mention of Obama, he has bigger personality flaws than Dictionary.com will be able to correct.

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  164. Sumera Raoof -  April 19, 2011 - 10:31 am

    I find Capital letters to be very helpful. They tend to emphasize and may be overemphasize at times. But nevertheless we need them in our English language.

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  165. Dummy -  April 19, 2011 - 10:07 am

    I hate typing Upper Case back down to lower case, than back to Upper Case, than back down again, over and over again. Typing in one case or the Other sure would be helpful:)

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  166. Daren -  April 19, 2011 - 9:51 am

    Before capitalization and punctuation became the norm, words were just written on pages with no clear beginning or end. Thus reading was a much sought-after skill as it required a talented reader and orator to bring a mess of words meaning. How would one know if a sentence was intended as a statement or question? Very difficult indeed.

    beforecapitalizationandpunctuationbecamethenormwordswerejustwrittenonpageswithnoclearbeginningorend

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  167. Jose -  April 19, 2011 - 9:33 am

    I find Caps very helpful. I’m learning German and Caps help me distinguish Nouns from adjectives and verbs, since all Nouns are capitalized in German.

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  168. JustTerrorIt -  April 19, 2011 - 9:31 am

    I find capital letters to be helpful, not only because they Happen At The Beginning Of The Sentence, but they can also be used for emphasis (as shown).

    As for paragraph indentation, it’s something I think will soon become a thing of the past. It’s simply not necessary. I have to say that I use it far more in programming (where the Tab button actually means something outside of “next box in form), but that’s because the indentation is needed for the program to be compiled correctly. Using it at the beginning of a paragraph? Not so much.

    I think I’ll go look up the origins of that.

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  169. mouthpiecenik -  April 19, 2011 - 9:16 am

    @ Susanna : “And I never use capital letters to refer to a fictional deity.”

    Then you are an ignoramus. I don’t believe that Thor or Zeus exist, but of course I will capitalize the names. Proper names, fictional or not, are capitalized; doing so is not an admission of personal belief. Jean Valjean is a fictional character, but in writing an essay about Les Miserables, surely you would capitalize the name. If you would not do the same with respect to the name of a deity you regard as fictional, then you are a buffoon. If, as I suspect, you were just making a snarky remark to belittle the beliefs of Lisa, then you are merely a boor, and a presumptuous one at that.

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  170. Lorax -  April 19, 2011 - 9:10 am

    How cool! I understand how capital and lowercase letters can be confusing, but they are definitely helpful too, like when your trying to show emphasis on a word. Thank you dictionary.com for awesome and interesting blogs!!

    Reply
  171. Tom Seleck's Ulcer -  April 19, 2011 - 9:08 am

    At least that starts to explain why Sister Meanie beat my knuckles to a bleeding pulp with her ruler and yard stick.

    “Don’t tell me about the Good book now, son. I’ll preach heaven and beat the hell outta you.” (Ving Rhames as Marcus in the movie, Bringing out the dead)

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  172. MSB -  April 19, 2011 - 9:05 am

    One person’s sweet is another person’s pompous. I never capitalize a pronoun regardless of who is referenced by it. I never capitalize or italicize or bold to give emphasis. The words chosen are emphasis enough, there is no need for the text to look amateurish as well.

    on topic, the use of capitals does help being able to read the text. without them the sentences become awkward. this may be because we have become used to the convention. it may just be because they really are useful in and of themselves.

    See?

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  173. Berger -  April 19, 2011 - 9:01 am

    I am a calligrapher and i enjoy the beauty and diversity of the English alphabet. When writing freehand or poetically I find myself capitalizing based both on emphasis and aesthetics. I speak both Arabic and a little German. Arabic, as above stated, has no capitalization, and that coupled with its lack of native punctuation turns every passage into what English speaker would consider a run-on sentence. German, on the other hand, capitalizes every noun with the exception of pronouns. I prefer the English rules, as the choice to capitalize in informal writing is just one more layer of expression that English has over many other languages.

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  174. Kevin -  April 19, 2011 - 9:00 am

    Capitalization has many important functions. For instance, an author could use capital letters unconventionally to create new meaning or effect, such as used in some poetry.

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  175. Leo -  April 19, 2011 - 8:37 am

    I was reluctant to use shouting caps at the end there, but since Joey says adding emphasis is always good, let’s call it poetic…

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  176. LuannD -  April 19, 2011 - 8:32 am

    Who in the heck doesn’t capitalize or even know how or when to capitalize? If not, something is very very wrong with our schools.
    And. capitolize is not a large building!

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  177. Leo -  April 19, 2011 - 8:13 am

    Joey, you are being hypocritical. Lisa’s “sweet side note” is a clear message of support for Christian religious claims of truth and authority. The capitalization of all things god-related is a convention that bows down to the idea that god is real, and that we must show him extra respect. You tell us we are “definitely supposed to” capitalize the pronoun ‘Him’, even though we don’t capitalize pronouns for real, live people or real, deceased historical figures. You presume to curtail our freedom of speech, yet you are clearly not concerned the Susanna and I will be offended by THAT!

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  178. word junkie -  April 19, 2011 - 8:08 am

    When I am reading/writing in more of a formal capacity, I prefer proper capitalization. However, when I am sending an informal email or TM, I tend to use all lower case letters. I tend to agree with Cyberquill on this one.

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  179. bobby g -  April 19, 2011 - 8:05 am

    lower case is the best

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  180. Kevin -  April 19, 2011 - 7:54 am

    Susanna on April 18, 2011 at 9:05 pm
    And I never use capital letters to refer to a fictional deity.

    Lighten up, Frances!

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  181. Ann -  April 19, 2011 - 7:51 am

    Does capitalization tell us about what we value or respect? In most Western languages, proper names (Maria, Darfur) are capitalized. But the word “I” is always capitalized in English, whereas it isn’t in French or German, for example. And in German, all nouns (“things”–Dog, Anticipation) are capitalized! Isn’t it wonderful that sentences begin with a capital letter? It signals the start of a new thought. Now if only we could get people to stop fusing one or more of those sentences together like runaway trains! And don’t forget that capital letters are used for titles and headings in English and other Western languages, giving us early signals in our reading of what is to come. Capitalization is an advancement in language development that we need to hang on to.

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  182. Gary -  April 19, 2011 - 7:51 am

    As a graphic artist for over three decades, and a teacher of graphic arts, I will weigh in on this discussion with a little bit of authority. When using different typefaces in a graphic sense, we must consider legibility, discernibility and fitness. Using caps and lower case in their proper combinations lends itself to legibility.

    Consider trying to read a lengthy newspaper or magazine article if it were set all in caps or all lower case. The eye would begin to tire in either situation. The flow that is achieved with caps and lower case helps the brain wade through all of the input, and makes reading much easier.

    Consider what happens when someone sends email or whatever, and has two or three paragraphs of all caps. The brain and eye tend to give up on trying to sort it all out after a sentence or two. Then try to imagine trying to read anything over a few words that was set all caps in Old English or Wedding Script. Impossible!

    There is a method to all of this madness. The different uses of typestyles hasn’t gotten to where it is by accident.

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  183. InsaneBoy -  April 19, 2011 - 7:48 am

    EmilyTheApple on April 18, 2011 at 8:38 pm : very very st*pid comment.
    Cyberquill on April 18, 2011 at 8:36 pm: i wouldnt say a thousand years, give it 10 to 20 years.
    Susanna on April 18, 2011 at 9:05 pm: nobody asked if you use them or not.

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  184. king schmuck -  April 19, 2011 - 7:33 am

    oh, what a country we live in where a believer in one fictional deity may denigrate the actions of a believer of another fictional deity freely and without criticism!!! praise the u.s.a.!!!

    …and, not to mention, maintain the right to capitalize or not to capitalize!!!

    hoorahh!!

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  185. LKD -  April 19, 2011 - 7:28 am

    I like capitols to denote people and places and add emphasis to sentence starts. Without it, there will be terribly more confusion with writing. Imagine a technical document without capitols? It would be almost illegible.

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  186. Mykeljon -  April 19, 2011 - 7:25 am

    Correct capitalization is essential to a proper understanding of every aspect of a document. As for the comment about fictional deities, since it it normal and proper to capitalize people’s names, it does not matter whether or not they are fictional. Since you capitalize James Bond, and Zeus you can do the same for God.

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  187. Jim -  April 19, 2011 - 7:22 am

    ALL CAPS, OVERWHELMING, HOW SO? :D

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  188. Pilar -  April 19, 2011 - 7:17 am

    And then you have the German language which not only capitalizes the first word in a sentence and proper nouns but all nouns.

    Personally, I am a big fan of the proper use of grammar. I think that with the transition to texting and IM and Twitter we are no longer holding ourselves to as high standards. I know that languages morph and adapt, but I think there is a line between language adaptation and language degradation. I don’t know where exactly that line lies, but I’d like to think it exists. As for me, I will continue to correctly punctuate and capitalize my text messages and e-mails.

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  189. Akash -  April 19, 2011 - 7:14 am

    it’s very beautifull setups

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  190. DeAnne -  April 19, 2011 - 7:00 am

    I never considered it helpful or annoying. You just do it. It is useful when reading what someone else has written. It keeps things broken up as if you were talking. As far as the remark did this really have to be made a religious fight with “fictional deity?” No one needs to offend anyone. If you don’t believe in God I feel sorry for you and will pray for you. However don’t make fun of other peoples belief.

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  191. smoothius -  April 19, 2011 - 6:54 am

    capitals are for formal writing or textual shouting, i simply am not going to bother with the shift key to post on blogs or text to friends and family. just lazy i guess…….

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  192. Ed -  April 19, 2011 - 6:49 am

    wHAT i FIND ANNOYING IS WHEN i FORGET THE STUPID cAPS lOCK!!

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  193. Catherine -  April 19, 2011 - 6:06 am

    Although I use capitalization in more formal writing, I really do not think that it is needed– I just do it because I am supposed to. I feel like capitalization at the beginning of a sentence, for instance, helps the reader understand the beginning of a new thought. However, punctuation also provides that same function. Maybe novice writers and readers need capitalization, but I don’t. Likewise, I think that providing all the letters in a more relatable size is better design. My only qualm is the differentiation of proper nouns…

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  194. Jay -  April 19, 2011 - 5:23 am

    In German, nouns are *always* capitalized, no matter what they refer to or how important or unimportant the thing being mentioned might be.

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  195. Matthew B. Winkel -  April 19, 2011 - 2:48 am

    God is not just “male,” and is more real than some people think … although not as tangible/concrete/anthropomorphic as other people think! ;D

    –Your friendly local “flaming centrist” (as my senior pastor has jokingly referred to us United Methodists)

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  196. Christy -  April 19, 2011 - 1:55 am

    Well Look Joey,
    This person who has made this artical has used his time to do it. He or she would not be very happy if you just started to making non-effective comments that relates nothing with this artical. He/She did this to inform other people about it . You are supposed to share Good comments … not bad ones

    Well its only my opinion ..
    So you dont have to listen to me .

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  197. Captain S. Locke -  April 19, 2011 - 1:47 am

    EVERYTHING I SAY IS IMPORTANT SO I ALWAYS USE MAJUSCULE
    MINISCULE IS FOR NOOBS, LIKE YOU

    Reply
  198. Peter O'Connor -  April 19, 2011 - 1:38 am

    Sometimes to save characters while texting I’ll not use full stop feeling the capital is sufficient. Otherwise I like to use them to empties something.
    As for gods “fictional” or fairy – as the mood takes me but Odin or Lugh or whatever tend to be proper nouns so … Yes I’d use capitols.

    Reply
  199. rohini -  April 19, 2011 - 1:31 am

    what is the meaning of purging

    Reply
  200. Elizabeth -  April 19, 2011 - 1:12 am

    In German, all nouns always start with a capital letter.

    Reply
  201. Dave Keays -  April 19, 2011 - 12:58 am

    In Hindi or any derivative of Sanskrit they are able to do without the difference between upper and lower case. The signals that are so important in the Roman script are learned and not absolutely necessary.

    If someone believes in a deity then why not show the person respect and honor their God as long their believing doesn’t degrade yours.

    I like the phrase “word vomit”. I’ll have to remember that one.r

    Reply
  202. David -  April 19, 2011 - 12:55 am

    In the Thai script, there is no capitalisation, and no spaces between words. A space is used to indicate the end of a sentence, but no other punctuation for flow. This to my eye makes it very hard to parse.

    Reply
  203. eduardo -  April 18, 2011 - 11:16 pm

    I do like writing properly and a way to do so is using capital and lower case letter appropriately and correctly, otherwise the text just looks horrible and it may be impossible to know where a sentence starts or ends. Someone said that with the use of instant messages and text messages, capitals will soon disappear, and that might be true, but the same need to know where the sentence starts and ends will make us all continue to use capital and lower case letters. But still, people have different beliefs and all should be respected.

    Cheers to you all.

    Reply
  204. Joey -  April 18, 2011 - 9:35 pm

    I never really considered it helpul or annoying…? It’s just what you do, but definately does give reading flow. Poetically, it can be used as a tool to add emphasis, which is always good. I found the last comment to be completely unnecessary; you are most definately supposed to say it as ‘Him,’ but did this really have to be made a religious fight with “fictional deity?” Lisa’s comment was sweet to include that side note, and it’s her belief – you do not need to try to offend.

    Reply
  205. Michelle -  April 18, 2011 - 9:31 pm

    I personally find capitalisation to be a very helpful thing, if used properly. I don’t like all caps, since that signifies shouting, usually (although I have some friends online who always type in all caps, & for them, I’ve gotten used to it), but used properly, capital letters are a very good thing. They indicate the start of a sentence, as well as proper nouns. I could learn to live with unicase if it was all lower case letters (like e. e. cummings used in his poetry), but I prefer a mix of properly used upper & lower case letters.

    Reply
  206. Susanna -  April 18, 2011 - 9:05 pm

    And I never use capital letters to refer to a fictional deity.

    Reply
  207. Susanna -  April 18, 2011 - 9:03 pm

    The use of upper and lower cases works wonderfully when used properly! ME LIKEY!!! *snicker*

    Reply
  208. Lisa Keck -  April 18, 2011 - 8:38 pm

    I’ve never really thought as capitals as either annoying or helpful. My left shift doesn’t work so capitalizing letters on the right side can be annoying. I used to be a Braille Transcriber and the Braille alphabet only has one set of letters. To denote a capital you put a dot 6 in front of the letter. It sure was nice to only learn one way to write e as oppossed to two–e and E. I like to use capitals to denote importance and drive my spellcheck crazy. I capitalize the pronoun He when it refers to any member of the Trinity of God. I also tend to capitalize things like the Hand of God or Mercy and Grace of what Christ did at Calvary.

    Reply
  209. EmilyTheApple -  April 18, 2011 - 8:38 pm

    I think that capitalization is important in the same respect as paragraph indentation is. In the words of my English teacher, “If there isn’t something to break up the flow of words, to make it different, then all your writing is is just word vomit.” It helps you see where a sentence begins and ends, and I think it make it easier to read things.

    Reply
  210. Cyberquill -  April 18, 2011 - 8:36 pm

    A few thousand more years of tweeting and TMing, and caps will go extinct anyway.

    Reply

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