1. Punctuate THIS!
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    Punctuate THIS! Member

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    Using a persons title in place of their name?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Punctuate THIS!, Sep 14, 2009.

    When one character refers to another using their job title (such as "the driver"), should the first letters in that title be capitalized? What if they have a long title as a nickname (such as "the hammerman from Detroit?"
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The name of a job is not a job title, and is not capitalized:
    A job title is usually attached to a name:
    There are some exceptions. Some titles stand without a name, and are capitalized:
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yup!
     
  4. A2theDre
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    A2theDre Active Member

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    When in a taxi, I often call the cabbie "driver." If I were writing this, would it be capitalised?

    In regards to the Pope, what allows this to be capitalised? I remember once back in high school, I wrote a short story where a tribe had a resident shaman who acted as their religion/spiritual guide. I capitalised his title as all these shamans give up their name when they take the profession. My teacher told me that was incorrect and I got in trouble for arguing with her. What's your take on it Cog/Mamma?
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...not unless you're using his 'title' as his name... if just saying, 'Once more around the park, driver,' it's not...

    ...tradition... and respect... just as "God" and "His Eminence" or 'Her Majesty" are, some will capitalize "Pope" even if not referring to one by name [e.g., "the Pope"]... it's not mandatory, though... however, if not referring to a specific one, it's always just 'a pope' and 'a cardinal' and 'a queen'...

    tribal shamans wouldn't be considered at that level of importance to the world in general, thus aren't awarded the capital letter in any instance... just as you wouldn't capitalize doctor/lawyer/priest...
     
  6. A2theDre
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    A2theDre Active Member

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    Neither, really, is the Dalai Lama. But that's still capitalised. I don't know, though. It was a long time ago and perhaps I was completely off in what I was trying to achieve. Thanks for clearing it up though.

    In the case of driver/Driver, isn't that entirely subjective. Because I could say either that I'm using it as a name or a title. Similar to if you went to the doctor, and you ask, "So what's wrong with me, Doctor/doctor?" What would you use? And couldn't it be argued as to what you mean?
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's because it's his actual 'name' now, the one he is known by to all in the world and his birth name is never used, other than being mentioned in his bios...

    and fyi, he IS respected and revered and considered at that level of importance outside of his own 'tribe' unlike the 'shamans' you refer to...

    as for driver/doctor, it certainly can be optional... and if your choice doesn't agree with the house style of your publisher, it will be changed... in fact, thinking it over a bit more, i might even be tempted to treat that 'driver' as a name, too... and most likely would, in re the doctor...
     
  8. A2theDre
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    A2theDre Active Member

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    Which is exactly how the shamans were treated in my short story. They forego their birth name and adopt their title as their name.

    My shamans are the most revered and respected people in their tribe. My story assumes no greater outside society and, as such, the rule used for the Pope and Dalai Lama should be in effect here. That is what I think anyway. Bear in mind this was a highschool short story and I only want to know for peace of mind.

    I think if I were to write either of those examples, I too, would capitalise them.

    It's a silly rule to have I think. I mean, you could have a grandfather calling his grandson "son" because, technically, he is. That could then progress to "sonny." What's to say that the grandfather is saying "sonny" as an extension of "son" or whether it's progressed to a nickname where it should be capitalised?

    I like you mamma, you're making me think :D
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    anytime a noun like 'son' or 'mom' or 'grandfather' is used in place of a name, it must be capitalized... that's a standard rule...

    i'm happy to know i've made you think, A2...

    hugs, m
     

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