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Subject:Re: Web vs. web? From:Max Bygrave <bygravem -at- INTUITIVE -dot- CO -dot- UK> Date:Fri, 3 Apr 1998 16:47:14 +0100
I have to disagree with the view that the internet or web should have a capitalised initial on the grounds (essentially) that it is a proper noun. The fact that -- at the moment -- there is only one internet/web does not make it a proper noun; ultimately there is scope for more internets/webs. More importantly, even if you argue that there can never be more than one internet/web (because all equivalents or alternatives by their nature become part of the original), that still doesn't make it a proper noun.
The example I always use at work when stating my case is that there is only one sky, and (on this planet) there can only ever be one sky. Nobody ever capitalises "sky" though. The reason? Nouns of which there is only one instance are not necessarily exclusive describers of a single unique item. While the item they describe may be -- at the moment -- single and unique, their meaning does not in any way address that uniqueness. Therefore, those nouns are not proper.
To completely destroy any credibility I may have had, I would go on to say that the only reason there is even the merest suggestion that either internet or web should start with a capital letter is that, in general, people who were grammatically 'unsound' used and accepted capitalised versions without giving them any thought. The capitalisation of these words is, in my view, simply traditional.