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Making a Point


As our and future generations dive further into the electronic technological age, some folks worry that good grammar, spelling, etc. will suffer.

And yes, it is true that 1 is frced to shrtn cert. wds in order to fit them into Twitter or a text.

But as long as there are writers, there will be attention to writing’s form.

And one thing I am Very Fond of is Random Capitalization. I use it in my own writing, particularly the humorous Regency-set stuff I write (I just finished one project this week, woot!). I believe I first encountered it in reading P.G. Wodehouse and Georgette Heyer; I’m not sure if the latter intended to Make a Point with her capitalization, but I know the former did. Wodehouse was excruciatingly particular when it came to his writing, including the capitalization.

I love it. It makes a normal sentence POP and SHINE, and really adds a dry wit (my favorite kind!) to the prose.

Capitalization is used in SF/F as well, only it’s not Random; it usually signifies a specific place (like Chaos in Meljean Brook‘s Demon series, or idea that is particular to the book, and of course I can’t think of an example, only I know they’re out there).

But when applied with a deft touch, and to Make a Point? Sublime perfection. And if authors and readers appreciate it–and other nuances of writing–I don’t think we’ll have to worry too much about how our language is getting degraded. It’s changing, for sure, but that’s not necessarily a Bad Thing.

Do you have a new favorite thing to write, read or say? What’s the best and worst part about new ways of communication?

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Jane Austen
12 years ago

When I was younger I used to write a lot of poetry and I went through an e e cummings phase where I didn’t capitalize anything. My English teacher thought it was because I was feeling small and didn’t believe I deserved capital letters. I did it because I wanted to prove I was above grammar rules. I don’t shorten things when I text message. I just can’t. I hate it. Sometimes I’m using it as work communication and I think I should use proper English. Maybe it’s just me.

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

I like using all caps for EMPHASIS. I mean…REALLY.

And I love it when writers use words as sentences. Makes. Me. Smile.

But I hate ending sentences with a preposition. What would anyone want to do that for? As Winston Churchill said, ““This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.” (except no one can really definitively say that Churchill said that)

So to see this grammar rule broken on the backcover blurb of Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress, makes me want to know who to complain to.

Jane George
12 years ago

My favorite use of capitalization is in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Whenever dialog in all caps shows up, you know DEATH is on the scene. DEATH is hilarious.

Megan Frampton
12 years ago

Yay! So glad you guys know what I’m talking about.

(Sorry, Diane, for your blurb).

Louisa Cornell
12 years ago

As a former English teacher I have nightmares about waking up one day to discover that the entire world has decided to speak in dotcomtwittereze, one of the few languages for which I can muster no interest whatsoever to learn. I love languages, real languages – the music and rhythm and beauty of words and their ability to convey entire worlds to those who have never traveled there.

My fear is that the more technologically bent we become future generations will have no interest in the beauty and complexity of the written word.

Crawling back into my ancient curmudgeonly hole now.

Janet Mullany
12 years ago

I rather like the challenge of Twitter, having to something succinct in a suffocatingly small space. Me, I like alliteration.

Donna Cummings
12 years ago

I just joined Twitterland this past week, and I’m getting the hang of it — although it feels like I’m writing for CNN Headline News all the time now. LOL I think I’m even starting to THINK in bite-size sentences. 🙂

Jane George
12 years ago

The weird thing about Twitter for me is not the 140 characters, it’s the sending out of millions of seeming monologues. I try to Reply & ReTweet as often as possible to avoid the void.

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

I admit I also love the capitalization thing! In the book I finished a few months ago, the hero is a duke and the heroine not at all sure she’s up to being a duchess, so she thinks of all the Very Important Things of a duke’s duty (the book got titled “The Shy Duchess”!). I also like funny asides, which are done so well in the Wodehouse stories…

It’s funny, because I just finished a surprising book that had wonderfully witty use of language and turn of phrase, Russell Brand’s memoir “My Booky Wook,” which had me laughing at some very dark things just because they were so cleverly worded and so very “English” in tone.

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