1. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Italicize names of space stations

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lostinwebspace, Mar 17, 2013.

    Are we supposed to italicize the names of space stations (Mir, the International Space Station, etc.)? I did a Google search, but didn't come across any reliable sources to say either way.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There's no clear standard established. If you treat a station like a military base or a port, the name is not italicized. Likewise oil platforms like the Deepwater Horizon are not italicized. However, the names of oceangoing vessels are italicized.

    I thing a space station is more like a base, a port, or an installation than like a vessel, so I would choose no italics/
     
  3. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    Cog... that makes sense, but I can think of one exception that may apply here. Foreign words are usually put in italics. So, is Mir treated like a foreign word here, or is it treated like base or port? BTW - I didn't even know about oceangoing vessels being italicized but now that you mention it, I do recall seeing it. Do you have any idea of the tradition behind that? Is it part of a larger, logical idea, or just one of those English oddities because of history?
     
  4. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Thanks, Cog. Good to know I don't have to italicize yet another thing.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'Mir' is not treated as a foreign word, only as the name for the space station that everyone in the world uses, regardless of their native tongue...
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Proper names are not italicized unless they are in another context requiring italics. Foreign words in an English sentence are often italicized (it is NOT a requirement), but generally are not italicized outside of a sentence context.

    As for why ocean vessel names are italicized, it's just one of the odd quirks of English. Titles of many types of creative works are italicized, others are not (Novel titles are italicized, short story titles are not. The names of songs are italicized. The names of architectural works are not italicized.) You just have to memorize the rules, or keep a reliable source handbook of the rules at hand.
     
  7. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    Great . . . now you're going to send me into hours of research to find out why ocean vessels are capitalized. It's those odd little things that just fascinate me, like why surgeons are called Mr. in Britain. (offered the link because I hoped someone would as geeky as I am and want to find this stuff out!)

    Also, one of the things I keep finding difficult in the switch from academic to fiction writing, is the difference in styles. I wanted so badly to argue that it is a requirement to italicize foreign words. Then I had to remember that it's purely based on style guides, and those change by publisher. It can get frustrating sometimes.
     
  8. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    Well, that and I just found out that it is actually in English dictionaries now, which means it shouldn't be italicized even if it wasn't a name everyone used. Sigh. I really could have looked it up before asking. On a similar note, I had no idea that the word Mir meant "A peasant commune in Prerevolutionary Russia," according to the World English dictionary.
     

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