Re: Titlecasing words starting with numeric glyphs and period as word separator

From: Stephan Stiller (
Date: Tue Mar 01 2011 - 17:26:56 CST

  • Next message: CE Whitehead: "RE: Titlecasing words starting with numeric glyphs and period as word separator"

    Dear list,

    > For your rules for text transformation in css
    > (
    > I would limit setting rules for titlecasing, that is I might specify
    > for that nouns, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns should be capitalized in
    > English titles, but would not specify other more "fuzzy" rules.

    In English, capitalization of words in titles/headlines is definitely
    not standardized, and there is great variation. (Same thing for
    hyphenation, btw.) I tried to find an authoritative reference to support
    this statement, but even the comprehensive "Cambridge Grammar of the
    English Language" by Huddlestone and Pullum (pp. 1757-1758) is rather
    brief on this topic - though it does say, "The precise way in which
    capitalised expressions are marked is subject to some variation". And at
    least one of Mr. Whitehead's CMOS references hints at there being
    variation. But simply take 4-5 different academic conference proceedings
    and compare their title-casing and hyphenation practices for accepted
    papers - you'll sometimes find ghastly inconsistencies even within the
    same title.

    Note that the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication records
    capitalize only the first word and proper names: "According to
    traditional library practice, only the first word of a title as well as
    any proper names which occur in the title are capitalized." (CIP
    publishers manual, 4th ed., p. 31). I'm not at all saying that LoC is an
    authority in style matters but rather that in fact it perhaps doesn't
    matter all that much if there's variation.

    (And while we're at it, note that CMOS doesn't necessarily follow
    majority practice for everything - it's a prescriptive guide, not a
    descriptive manual.)

    I mostly agree with Mr. Whitehead's practice. I even think that there is
    a "best" way that balances linguistic principles with de-facto
    present-day practice (and for what that would be this list is probably
    not the right discussion forum, so I'll refrain), but it seems like
    prescribing too much in this domain in a Unicode spec (to answer one of
    Koji Ishii's original questions) should be avoided if possible, given
    the current state of rampant variation.

    Stephan Stiller
    Department of Computer Science
    Stanford University

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