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

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Wed Mar 02 2011 - 19:01:41 CST

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    2011/3/2 Mark Davis ☕ <>:
    > I have a typo in the following. Should have written:
    > l’histoire du Québec => L’histoire du Québec

    Unlike English, the French rules for capitalizing titles are much more
    strict : there's no upparcasing of almost all words, but only the
    first word, plus the next one if the first word is a definite article
    (« Le, La, Les, L’ ») because it is not significant for collation (in
    fact it is not written with a "majuscule", but just as a typographic
    capital : French makes a clear distinction between capitals, which is
    a typographic presentation, mandatory at the begining of sentences,
    and majuscules which are orthographic and invariant in dictionnaries,
    notably for proper names).

    There are additional rules when a title is not a verbal sentence (i.e.
    not a full sentence with at least a subject and conjugated verb) :
    * if it is an enumeration (separated by commas, or coordination
    conjunctions like « et, ou ») : the conjonction is not capitalized, as
    well as the possible article after it. E.g. « Le Corbeau et le Renard
    », but these additional items are still capitalized individually.
    * If the first word of the title is not a definite article, but any
    other terminant, it is capitalized and does not force capitalizing
    other words after it (with the exception of enumerations). E.g. «
    Trois Hommes et un Coufin ».
    * if the second word after the definite article is not a noun but an
    adjective, the capitalization is reported to the first noun after it.
    E.g. « Le Joli Mois de mai » (outside of a title, it reads
    orthographically as « le joli mois de mai » without any capital,
    there's no majuscule in both cases), or « Les Trois Mousquetaires ».

    The special exception for definite articles is very limited to only
    these three words « Le, La, Les » and the elided form « L’ » or «
    La/Les », as they are extremely frequent in titles ; the special rule
    for enumerations comes from the fact that the order is often not
    significant, or because multiple entries may be inserted in indices
    for each item in the enumeration).

    They are important because they help correct sorting of titles in
    collections (notably for finding books in public or commercial
    libraries, or in collection indices), or music CD or films in shops
    (if there's no significant author name).

    So this should really be: « L’Histoire du Québec », with a capital H,
    if this is a artistic production title (book name, song title, movie
    title). The rules are wellknown and very respected in French (you can
    find these rules documented in most French typographic guides, as well
    as in French Wikipedia, French Wikibooks, where they are also used as
    a convention strongly applied).

    These French rules capitalize much less words than English in titles
    (but still retain all initial capitals on proper names).

    The Unicode "titlecase" algorithm clearly does not work at all for
    French and should NEVER be used there, as it was only designed for
    English in mind. My opinion is that this algorithm should be
    deprecated from the standard, and only given as informative for a
    limited set of languages, and for just a few contexts (but all your
    discussion previously on this list shows that the subject is extremely
    fuzzy, even in English, as it even breaks on various English proper
    names : better not use it).


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