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  #1  
Old 01-25-2006, 11:37 AM
FlyingRamenMonster FlyingRamenMonster is offline
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Why do people randomly capitalise words?

I am not really sure how to describe this, but many people have this infuriating (to my grammar nazi self anyway) way of capitalising random words they write. For example they might write "My name is John. I live in a Large house in Rosewater. I have a Dog and a budgie. I used to have a Sister too but my dog Ate her. I like cookies."

I have to ask... WHY? Why must you capitalise those words? What is so special about them? Is your house so large it needs to be referred to as "Large"? Is a "Dog" actually a code name for a live-in cleaner from a cannibal tribe of South America?
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  #2  
Old 01-25-2006, 12:21 PM
Man With a Cat Man With a Cat is offline
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I Like cookies too. But My dog doesn't.

I lied I don't Have a dog.
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  #3  
Old 01-25-2006, 12:23 PM
Man With a Cat Man With a Cat is offline
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Oops. Submit too fast...

When I read that I think that the writer is asking for emphasis on that word. As if you'd normally underline, or bold it, but they just capitalize it.
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  #4  
Old 01-25-2006, 12:26 PM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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Well, since you're asking for humble opinions on this intriguing topic, mine would be that, depending on circumstance, such capitalizations can come from:

1) rank ignorance
2) deliberate messing with your mind
3) a desire to emphasize certain words without going to any more trouble than the barest minimum, foregoing such things as bolding or italicizing or even *using asterisks* to set off those "important" words
4) the desire to emulate old English or even German where some words are capitalized out of adherence to some older rules
5) bad typing skills
6) dyslexia
7) psychosis
8) sexual perversion
9) excessive zeal brought on by sitting too near a TV set

There may be other reasons, too. One could go mad trying to find such answers.
Good luck!
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  #5  
Old 01-25-2006, 12:39 PM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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I've wondered that too. I think 1) rank ingnorance is probably the best answer. Those people areusually the Same ones who put apostrophes in the wrong place's.
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  #6  
Old 01-25-2006, 12:40 PM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bonobo_jones
I've wondered that too. I think 1) rank ingnorance is probably the best answer. Those people areusually the Same ones who put apostrophes in the wrong place's.
Or who Forget to use the space bar.
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  #7  
Old 01-25-2006, 12:45 PM
Man With a Cat Man With a Cat is offline
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Oops. Submit too fast...

When I read that I think that the writer is asking for emphasis on that word. As if you'd normally underline, or bold it, but they just capitalize it.
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  #8  
Old 01-25-2006, 12:46 PM
Man With a Cat Man With a Cat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Bus Guy
Oops. Submit too fast...

When I read that I think that the writer is asking for emphasis on that word. As if you'd normally underline, or bold it, but they just capitalize it.
Or double post.
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  #9  
Old 01-25-2006, 12:51 PM
Unintentionally Blank Unintentionally Blank is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Bus Guy
Oops. Submit too fast...
Penis *Ensues*.
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  #10  
Old 01-25-2006, 12:55 PM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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It was very popular in 1920s fiction. When I see it now, it makes me think of Jeeves and Wooster: "What you did was a Very Good Thing, Jeeves my Old Chum. Now we shall take The Charabanc back to the Manor House."
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  #11  
Old 01-25-2006, 01:01 PM
JThunder JThunder is offline
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I hAve nO idEa whaT yoU're TalKing aboUt.
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  #12  
Old 01-25-2006, 01:04 PM
Speaker for the Dead Speaker for the Dead is offline
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Ah, 1920's "Death Fiction."
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  #13  
Old 01-25-2006, 01:22 PM
eleanorigby eleanorigby is offline
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I do this when I follow the mode of Victorian writers. For example, some of them wanted to discuss via their novels, Truth and Love. Meaning, the concepts of truth and love.

It is a way of emphasizing and also underscoring a more subtle meaning in certain words. Another example: drunk college students late at noc in dorms often talk bout Life.





And, there is rank ignorance, as said above.
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  #14  
Old 01-25-2006, 01:29 PM
PoorYorick PoorYorick is offline
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We had a programmer where I work who habitually capitalized the first letter of random words. I couldn't find any pattern to it; nouns, pronouns, verbs . . . they were all fair game. I told him specifically to capitalize only the first letter of the first first word in a sentence, not to even worry about proper nouns (I didn't want to confuse him). And he'd still do it.

I honestly think it was some sort of dysleksia-type thing, that the difference betwen upper case and lower case was a mystery to him.
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  #15  
Old 01-25-2006, 01:55 PM
yellowval yellowval is offline
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I think they do it because they hate me. Seriously. I work for a newspaper and I see this way more often than I care to admit because it pains me that people can be so stupid. Most of the time people do it for emphasis, and most of the time it isn't needed. For example, if someone is advertising an open house baby shower, they'll write Open House Baby Shower. None of these words need to be, or should be, capitalized, IMO.
Quotations are just as bad. People who like to over-use quotations would write: "open house" baby shower, or even better, "Open House" Baby Shower. That's just great.
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  #16  
Old 01-25-2006, 01:59 PM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yellowval
Quotations are just as bad. People who like to over-use quotations would write: "open house" baby shower, or even better, "Open House" Baby Shower. That's just great.
I love it when people put notices up like:

"Free" gift with every purchase.

And I'm all like
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  #17  
Old 01-25-2006, 02:08 PM
Loach Loach is offline
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I always found that normal military jargon has very weird "rules" about capital letters. After years of military indoctrination I found it a difficult habit to break. Add to that years of writing police reports in all capital block letters. All the reports are on computer now so I don't have to do that any more.
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  #18  
Old 01-25-2006, 02:33 PM
yellowval yellowval is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjimm
I love it when people put notices up like:

"Free" gift with every purchase.

And I'm all like
That is a good one. Makes you wonder what the catch is, doesn't it? I guess the catch is that it's "free," not just free, because you have to purchase something to get it.
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  #19  
Old 01-25-2006, 02:49 PM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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It's not an unusual style of emphasis in a software context. Hacks aren't bad and wrong; rather they're Bad and Wrong (the opposite of Right and Good). There are only a few common phrases, and they're all rather specific, so it seems unlikely that those are what you're using.

Personally, I use capitalization and asterisks to denote differences in the way I would speak something. If I say that something is a Very Good Thing, read that section with a strong emphasis on the words and pauses in between them. If I say that it's a *very good thing*, read that with strong emphasis on the words but at a normal speed. If I say that it's a very good thing, read that as above but with a less strong emphasis.
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  #20  
Old 01-25-2006, 03:03 PM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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I am guilty of this. When I write software I will capitalize the variables in ways that I hope make my code more readable. Many people prefer underscores or small variable names. I would write SectionNumber. Someone else might write section_number. Someone else my write sn. I hate the underscores primarily because it is one of the keys I have trouble touch-typing.

Anyway, I often find that I do it when I'm writing other things - even though there is now a space in between section and number, the habit is ingrained.
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  #21  
Old 01-25-2006, 06:05 PM
Beware of Doug Beware of Doug is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loach
I always found that normal military jargon has very weird "rules" about capital letters. After years of military indoctrination I found it a difficult habit to break.
Yes, good point. I associate it with a certain loyal, unquestioning attitude toward institutions and authority.
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  #22  
Old 01-25-2006, 06:47 PM
Sierra Indigo Sierra Indigo is offline
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The Thing I Hate Is People Who Take The Time And Effort To Write Every Single Word Like They're Writing The Headline To A Story. I First Ran Into It In An Internet Chatroom. The Girl Who Did It Told Me She Thought It Made Her Sentences Look More Interesting And Important. That Says It All, Really.
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  #23  
Old 01-25-2006, 08:23 PM
.Tyr. .Tyr. is offline
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I Will Occasionaly Do this when I start typing a sentance. But I never capitalize random words in the middle of a sentance.
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  #24  
Old 01-25-2006, 08:46 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjimm
I love it when people put notices up like:

"Free" gift with every purchase.

And I'm all like
This is becoming oddly pervasive. I saw a road sign this spring that said:

Caution. Roads are "slick."

That's what drivers need, sarcasm from the highway department.
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  #25  
Old 01-25-2006, 08:57 PM
fishbicycle fishbicycle is offline
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If you want to see this in practice, go to eBay. Well, don't go there if you care about the language, because it'll make you horribly depressed. But I see it on there all the time. The other day, I had to show my wife a sentence with 53 words before a punctuation mark, and it was the wrong one. In that huge, run-on sentence, words were capitalized at random. Not even words that could be considered selling points. The writing style sounded like Grade 3 Remedial English class - it was something like: "This are a Nice pear of shoes they Are fuschia With sequinces it is patton Leather the souls arent Wore down the heal is 2 Inchs thanks For looking check out my Other items," - although it was less literate than my example.

So part of it is a complete failure to grasp writing. I imagine another part of it is little exposure to writing. You'd think that one might absorb it by osmosis, right? Nope. Some folks start out without a clue, and never gain one.
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  #26  
Old 01-25-2006, 09:06 PM
Rubystreak Rubystreak is offline
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A lot of my students do this, just Randomly capitalize Words for no good Reason. When I ask them why they do this, they invariably shrug. It's a mystery for the ages, and one that annoys the crap outta me.
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  #27  
Old 01-25-2006, 09:11 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeldar
1) rank ignorance
I vote for a combination of 1) rank ignorance and 2) not even giving a shit.
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  #28  
Old 01-25-2006, 09:47 PM
Anastasaeon Anastasaeon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yellowval
That is a good one. Makes you wonder what the catch is, doesn't it? I guess the catch is that it's "free," not just free, because you have to purchase something to get it.
Random quotes make me laugh. We had a local grocery store, back in the boonies where I'm originally from, that had this beauty written on all of their plastic grocery bags:

[Name of store]

Where we "care" about our "customers".

Later, they changed it:

Where "quality" means "everything".

And one more time:

Our "products" are "fresh".

Good lord. I couldn't bring myself to shop there.
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  #29  
Old 01-25-2006, 10:58 PM
FlyingRamenMonster FlyingRamenMonster is offline
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I saw a picture of a baker holding a sign in the newspaper. It was something about a power outage wreaking havoc across the city or something like that. But anyway, he was holding a cardboard sign. And the sign said:

""NO"" BREAD TODAY

And I was like, ? "No" bread? Does that mean there actually *is* bread? Or do the quotation marks cancel each other out and there actually is no bread?
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  #30  
Old 01-26-2006, 08:15 AM
MizGrand MizGrand is offline
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What About Titles?

See above. I always capitalize the letters in the main words of my titles. I, of course, don't capitalize the little words like "a", "an" "in" "the" (unless it's the first word). There are bunches of other little words I wouldn't capitalize in a title, I'm sure.

I never Randomly capitalize In normal Day-To-Day correspondence.
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  #31  
Old 01-26-2006, 08:20 AM
PapSett PapSett is offline
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It annoys me, too. But ironically, there is one item in my house that I always do this with: The Big Green Bed.

I have a HUGE green dog bed that all my dogs would fit comfortabley on (That is , y'know, if the Papillons didn't think the Gordons have cooties...) and for some reason, I don't think of it as the big green bed. It's always The Big Green Bed.

I don't know why.

Yes, I am weird.
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  #32  
Old 01-26-2006, 02:21 PM
sundog66 sundog66 is offline
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I'm sure you know this, but nonstandard capitalization is probably a lot rarer than it seems, because your attention is only called to capitalization when you notice something is wrong. Standard capitalization doesn't get noticed.

Also, I'm up for a challenge. If someone can give me a large enough genuine sample of text from an author who uses seemingly random capitalization, I bet I can find some pattern to it. Probably nothing categorical, but at least probabilistic, i.e. significantly different from a text in which a truly random selection of words had their initial letters capitalized. Anyone?
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  #33  
Old 01-26-2006, 06:12 PM
JSexton JSexton is offline
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I've noticed folks from the UK doing this. Picture the Winnie-the-Pooh books, for example. Pooh might go on a Really Long Journey. I've noted Brits on the web using caps like that. It's not for emphasis, exactly. More like yo'd almost expect to see a tm after the phrase, if you catch my meaning.
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