1. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    Capitalization

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by TLK, Dec 9, 2013.

    So I'm having a bit of with Capitalization. Not the sort of stuff like "Tomorrow is Monday and Bob is going to London" but some of what I think are the finer nuances. Or maybe I'm just over-complicating all this and none of the things actually need capitals, and I'm just adding them in because they look pretty.

    Anyway, a few issues. To capitalize, or not to capitalize?

    1) Name of a race.

    So, I have this made up race of people in my story. For the purposes of this thread, I'll call them the Zogs. Or the zogs. So, do I capitalize? "Zogs" with a capital, just looks right to me but, on the other hand, I'd never capitalize "human". And, further, does it change in the following sentences:

    "Zogs have ruled this planet for many centuries" (i.e. talking about the Zog race)
    "The Zog handed Kevin a spade" (i.e. talking about a single Zog, using "The Zog" as if it was his name"

    2) Descriptive place names

    So, I'm not on about place names such as "England" or "Zogville", but rather names of places which are a description of the place itself. For example "The Tunnel of Blood" or "The Blood Tunnel". Do I capitalize? Again, I think it looks right and I think it's a proper noun but if you were to say "a bloody tunnel", you wouldn't capitalize.

    3) Chief.

    This word has been giving me some grief. Do you capitalize it when used as a title?

    4) Not really sure what to call this one

    So, I have five tribes in this area in my story, each has a village in a location, one on each point of the compass, and one in the centre. Each tribe has a chief. So, if I were to say "the central tribe" or "the western village", would I capitalize? Further, if I was to say "the eastern tribe chief", what parts of that sentence would I capitalize.

    ----------

    That's it, sorry I couldn't add more detail, but I have to shoot off now. I'll be happy to answer questions if need be.

    Thanks in advance! :)
     
  2. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    If you refer someone to as chief, as in "Hey there, Chief." it should be in caps, I believe as it his name in that case.
    However you wouldn't say "The Chief went outside." but "The chief went outside."
    Basically, capitalist it only when it's setup to be a "proper" noun.

    At least, that's as far as I understand to concept.
    Correct me if I'm wrong.

    Wouldn't different races have capitals?
    Like Elves and Dwarves in lieu of Europeans and Russians?
    Same diff to me.

    Names of locations that are proper names such as "Tunnel of Love" or "the Dark Forest" should be capitalized as well
    As they are proper nouns for the specific place.
     
  3. AJC
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    AJC Active Member

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    Can't "The Chief" be considered a proper noun in some cases?
     
  4. Patra Felino
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    Patra Felino Active Member

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    Chief should be capitalised if you use it as part of someone's actual name, but not normally otherwise.

    E.g. Homer watched Chief Wiggum with envy as he ate a slice of pie. None of the other chiefs were taking any notice.

    The same rule applies for presidents, kings, colonels and so on.
     
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  5. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    Okay, thanks for all the pointers on "chief". So, if it was "the eastern tribe chief", would it be capitalized or not?
     
  6. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    "The chief of the eastern tribe" wouldn't be capitalized as it isn't a proper noun and isn't referring to a person as if it being a proper noun.
    ie: You would say "Hello, Chief of the Eastern Tribe." Though, here it's correct because it is used as a proper noun. Anywhere else such as "There stood the chief of the eastern tribe" isn't a noun but a description.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2013
  7. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Ran out of time to edit :(

    "The Chief of the Eastern Tribe Tommy..."
    Title precedes proper noun, it's in caps.

    "He saw the chief of the eastern tribe."
    No proper noun after it and the title doesn't refer to him as a proper noun, then no caps.

    "Hail, Chief of the Eastern Tribe."
    Title used as a proper noun, caps.

    Once again, please correct me if I am wrong as I am slightly unsure.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    treat it the same way you would 'Americans' or 'humans' depending on whether or not the word you're using is derived from a proper noun... if there's a country named 'Zog' then its natives would be 'Zogs'... but if that 'race of people' are akin to 'humans' and the word is not derived from the place they come from, then no capital...

    yes, use capitals, if its the official name of a place...

    only when used with the chief's name, as in 'Chief Joseph'... not for 'He was a tribal chief'...

    you would capitalize them only if those were their official names... in re the sentence, it would read better as 'the chief of the eastern tribe' and no capitals are called for there, unless 'eastern tribe' was their official name..

    hope this helps...
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Or if used AS a name:

    "Sorry about that, Chief."
     
  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'd say elves and dwarves would not be capitalised in most instances, as these terms are analogous with humans, dogs, cats, etc.

    The reason Europeans and Russians would be capitalised is because Europe and Russia are proper names, used to identify particular locations. Consequently, the people who come from these places are given an overview name which is a proper name.

    There is no country of "Elve" or "Dwarv."
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yup!
     
  12. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, you might have something there.
    Didn't think of it that way.
     
  13. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    Awesome, thanks for all the responses guys, they've been really helpful!

    Just two more things I'm wondering about whether or not to capitalize.

    5) Name of a language

    So these are usually capitalized but they're normally from a location which, as people have pointed out, would be the reason for it. So what if there's a language (say, "Zogian") that's not derived from a place name

    6) Important items

    Think along the lines of the One Ring in LotR here. I don't have any copy of LotR near me, so I can't check, but would you capitalize an item of such importance to the story. I would say yes, because it's sort of like a name.
     
  14. Patra Felino
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    5. Languages should always be capitalised regardless of whether or not they are derived from a location (e.g. Esperanto).

    6. The One Ring was capitalised in LOTR, I'm pretty sure, and such an item should be. Not sure what the hard and fast rule would be, but I guess you could post a specific query.
     
  15. A.M.P.
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    The proper name of a language should always be capitalized even if it is fictitious.
    ie: English, Elvish, Croatian, Common Tongue

    The One Ring would be a proper name, wouldn't it?
    Like Excalibur or the Spoon of Doom.
    If a specific object has a specific name like "the Branch of the First People" it would be in caps as it's a proper name for a specific thing.
    If there were multiple, then it'd be miniscule.
    Treat it like a persons name and you'll be fine.
     

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