1. John Carlo
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    John Carlo Active Member

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    Using Caps

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by John Carlo, Dec 1, 2014.

    Okay, I have two questions relating to capitalization. One is relating to the capitalization of "god" or "God." Here is my example:
    "I swear to God," she said.
    "There is no god for you to swear to, sweetie."

    I don't like interchanging the upper and lowercase G, even for different usage. But there are other sentences in the story where capitalization definitely feels appropriate. Can I get away with capitalizing it every time? I feel like there's a tone attached to doing that, and likewise a tone attached to never capitalizing it. But does it bother anyone else to constantly switch it up in order to remain contextually correct every time?

    Secondly, is it at all acceptable to use all caps to signify shouting in dialogue these days? I feel like it gets the point across much easier than an exclamation mark.
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    In your first example, God is used as the proper name of a specific entity, so it should be capitalized. Your second is a little ambiguous. If it were clearly 'god' used as a noun:

    "There are a lot of gods. Which one are you swearing to?"

    I'd say it absolutely should not be capitalized. But the same form could be used for a regular proper name, in which case capitalization would be appropriate:

    "Submit your papers to Joe."
    "There is no Joe any more. He quit."

    All caps for shouting in dialogue: I definitely think it's a bad idea, though I don't have a style guide to hand to confirm whether it's actually usually forbidden. If you want to unambiguously make it clear that the words are shouted, use a dialogue tag.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    @ChickenFreak is right. God with a capital G refers to a specific god, usually the Christian god. God with a lower case g refers to any god/gods. It is the same with King and Queen and similar titles. The King is one of the best kings.

    As for shouting with all caps, you can get away with it in a forum post. But if you put it in your novel or story it annoys some people and shouting is better conveyed with showing/describing the scene.
     
  4. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ditto on the whole god-deal.

    On the all-cappin' it, well. Personally, without it being stylistic (as in, there are other such renderings, as in, the whole piece goes against convention) I would probably find it amateurish. However, I would imagine, as I only am here (pure-damn-conjecture), that the use of all-caps would signify a certain modernity. If you want this connotation, I'd say go for it, but that connotation is a hefty one, and if all-capping is the only excessively modern move you're making, then I'd figure it an undue step. It's probably behind the curve in its own right; I have no-idea what constitutes avant-garde in the today (or, really, anytime, honestly).

    If you simply want to emphasize yelling, then I'd say that there are better, more subtle ways of doing this. I mean "better," only in respect to convention. Depending on what you're trying to express, caps could be all good, but it's a huge emphasis, and doing it, without other boundary-breakers, could just drain your ethos. Essentially, just be wise with application, as with most things. Circumstance is paramount, too.

    ETA: If breaking convention, it is a blatant move. One must have justification to avoid looking foolish.
     
  5. John Carlo
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    John Carlo Active Member

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    Thank you for the responses.
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would actually see it as old-fashioned--not in a 17th-century sense, but in, oh, a 1952 sense. Offhand, I'm not sure why, but for some reason I'm visualizing someone pounding really hard on an old manual typewriter. I would say that it's because using all caps suggests the unavailability of boldface, but boldface isn't used for shouting either. Maybe it's because people sometimes used to all-caps a single word when that single word would more logically be presented in italics.
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This piqued my interest.

    How Capital Letters Became Internet Code for Yelling. And why we should lay off the all-caps key.
    This cracked me up:
    There's other interesting trivia in the article.

    And I didn't know the "Netiquette Wiki" had developed:
    Rule number 2 - Do not use all caps :p

    Then there was this BBC revelation:
    Why do CAPITAL LETTERS so annoy us?
    Who knew? :rofl:
     
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  8. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not, I actually get you. That's why I stressed some unsurety, as all-caps isn't really inventive or innovative in the "today." However, as you were picturing with a typewriter, I was picturing it as some hyper-exaggerated thing, such as:

    hE-*F"''U|\\KK||NG S@||||| I) NO!

    So, yeah. If I were to employ all-caps, I would only use it to such extremity, to truly ridicule something or demonstrate some underlying absurdity.

    ETA: Love your post @GingerCoffee.
     
  9. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    And then you get people who refuse to capitalize the personal pronoun "I", and fill their post with "what i think" (and I had to go back an un-autocorrect the "i" in that example!)
     
  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    oooh ...that irritates me far more than an occasional yell delivered in caps. I HATE small 'i' replacing the 'I' we are used to. ;) It seems ...lazy? Or self-absorption beyond the stature of the word, as written? Umm... But, like the use of the occasional capped yell, I would never say never to either of these. If people want to employ these offbeat conventions, fair enough. Not everybody will like them, but so what? This is creative writing; you can do whatever the hell you like, as long as you know you'll annoy some people, won't annoy others, and may actually please a few!
     
  11. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Why would anyone not capitalise the word "I"? :confused:

    As for capitalising in dialogue - I see it as a kinda middle-grade convention for some reason. I don't feel it's appropriate for YA or adult fiction, unless the capitalisation is to show you how a sign's written. The all caps thing just draws so much attention to itself that I don't like it at all. It looks childish and like the writer's lazy - like you can't be bothered to just add a tag, or make your writing good enough that the tone would come across.

    All caps is fine for say, children's books where it's part of the artwork and visuals. Then yes.

    but normal prose? Nah. Not for me at least.

    But as Jannert says, it's really up to you what you wanna do :D
     
  12. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Never use all caps unless you're writing a book with IM or text messages. If you want to show that someone is shouting, you can always use a "he shouted" tag or something similar.
     

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