We Are Not German! Or, A Note on Random Capitalization

I cannot bite my tongue one more time, and so you, dear internet, get a remedial English grammar lesson.

We are not German! We use capital letters with more restraint, and we do not use them for emphasis, no matter how important or exalted we feel an action or concept to be.

Governor Perry, I, too, believe that freedom and voting are profoundly important. Neither they nor you become more important, however, by being capitalized. The sacrifice too many Americans have made will not be diminished by my refusal to puff up my own patriotism by using capital letters incorrectly to impart import.

Furthermore, neither honest statesmen nor the constitution are diminished or debased by being written about with lower case letters.

Please, practice responsible capitalization. If you absolutely must do something to emphasize a word, phrase, or sentence, use bold or italic version of your typeface to do so.

In the meantime, Governor Perry, if you’re not actually going to fund public education at meaningful levels, at least try to set a good example for the children when you wield the English language in public.

This post is dedicated to a woman whose voice will always echo through my head as I imagine her shouting “We are not German!” in remonstrance to her staff. Not even direct response mailing for the cause warrants or excuses random capitalization. You know who you are, my friend!

This entry was posted in advice you didn't ask for, politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to We Are Not German! Or, A Note on Random Capitalization

  1. yay, the Guardian Of gets to disagree with the ‘teuse . . .

    While i am now Texan, and American, many 100s of years ago, some of the people who influence my blood, including he who gave me my last name, were German. I don’t so much like the German’s demand that every noun be capitalized as much as a the English minimalism.

    I often use capitalization to effects not officially sanctioned by the british and american Grammar Prescriptivists. Almost as often as I start a sentence with a lowly lower case. There are a variety of reasons I use the Unapproved-of Capital, and most of them are only loosely defined in my head.

    My Capitals have meaning, they’re just not ever jingoistic ones, which is what I think is really bothering the Nonsequiteuse.

    • i love bell hooks. I also know that you, Guardian, know the rules and have reasons for using or disregarding them. In a pinch, you could conform, if the circumstances demanded it. The jingoism does offend me, true.

      With many, however, I’m not sure whether they are making an anti-intellectual statement or simply do not understand that just because something is important doesn’t mean it gets capitalized. Either is sad and both are infuriating.

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