RE. Capitalizing proper nouns

Subject: RE. Capitalizing proper nouns
From: Geoff Hart <geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Tue, 4 Apr 1995 08:11:36 LCL

Bill Burns asked <paraphrase> about capitalizing proper nouns, but
used an incorrect example. "Employee" isn't a proper noun, unless you
consider my correct name to be "Editor" instead of Geoff. Thus, you
could say the "Employee Department" (I wouldn't, but you could), but
not "this note applies to all Employees". If the word was part of a
full title (e.g., the "Employee Guide to E-mail Etiquette"), and if
you capitalize all words in your titles, then it becomes part of a
compound proper noun (i.e., a single title with multiple words) and is
thus capitalized. Rule of thumb: would the word be capitalized on its
own? If not, it's not a proper noun. As another example, I live and
work in "eastern Canada" (note the lower case E), but if I wrote about
two regions, one to the east and one to the west, and chose to name
each one, I could say "Eastern Canada and Western Canada are...". I
could, but I wouldn't be required to do so, since this is giving
artificial importance to the adjectives (eastern and western).

Final note: Capitalizing the adjectives is often done, sarcastically,
to emphasize the self-importance of an individual. For example, "His
Royal Plentipotentiary High Muckamuck Charged With Affairs of State".

--Geoff Hart geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
#8^{)}


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