Thursday, April 29, 2004

Today's exquisite corpse

For background, see this.

Today's is from the runaway No. 1 British best-seller "Eats, Shoots & Leaves," by Lynne Truss. There aren't five rules on Page 23, so I'll just go with part of the rule that takes up that page. We're still in the introduction here, talking about how capitalizing a sentence and ending it with a period haven't always been a part of the written word.
The initial letter of a sentence was first capitalised in the 13th century, but the rule was not consistently applied until the 16th. In manuscripts of the 4th and 7th centuries, the first letter of the page was decorated, regardless of whether it was the start of a sentence. ... Nowadays, the convention for starting a new sentence with a capital letter is so ingrained that word-processing software will not allow you to type a full stop and then a lower case letter; it will capitalise automatically. This is bad news, obviously, for chaps like e.e. cummings, but good news for those who have spotted the inexorable advance of lower case into book titles, television captions, company names and (of course) everything on the non-case-sensitive internet, and lie awake at night worrying about the confusion this is spreading in young minds.
When I see E.E. Cummings written in lowercase (when not attached to a poem), my heart hurts and my head spins. (Please see "I love K.D. Lang and her music, but ...")

I'll give her a pass on Internet, I guess, and I am glad to see non-case-sensitive hyphenated before it.

But to lowercase a name in a book about punctuation? I'm nonplused.


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