When people insist on using lower-case letters for their names. . .

But those actions don’t affect the actual written form of the name, so they’re irrelevant to this discussion.

It’s different because those names are written in different alphabets; when writing in English we use the roman alphabet (occasionally with some diacriticals for foreign words).

But what we’re discussing here is conventional and unconventional usages of writing names using the roman alphabet, so again, your suggested analogy is irrelevant.

The fact is, as other posters have pointed out, that names used by English speakers and written in the roman alphabet do exhibit a variety of conventions in capitalization and punctuation (including spacing). Odell, O’Dell, ODell, and other variants are all originally the same name, as are DiBianco, di Bianco, and Dibianco, or van der Waerden, Van der Waerden, and Vanderwaerden.

I agree that people who tweak conventional written forms of nomenclature at their individual whim do come across as annoying pissants. However, it’s not my job (even if it were possible) to reform the annoying pissants of the world.

IMHO (and here we are in the proper forum for such a response, thanks Gary), it may be irritating and pretentious to adopt an unconventional way of writing your name within a given alphabet, but it’s flat-out discourteous for other people to deliberately disregard your preference because your pretentiousness irritates them.

Frankly, using a first name like “Twylyght” or “Ambre” (or, for that matter, “Bruiser” or “Spike”) strikes me as a lot more eye-rolly than just spelling your name without any capital letters. But I roll my eyes in private, and don’t presume to try to teach “Ambre” or “Bruiser” or “john smith” any kind of lesson about not being a pretentious twazzock.

Well… if I had a choice between (a) living in a dictatorial regime which punctiliously spelled my offbeat, affected, cutesy name correctly even as it starved, beat and tortured me, or (b) living in a democracy under the rule of law where not everyone called me just what I wanted to be called, y’know, I think I’d go for option (b). But that’s just me.

And none of those conventions include all lower case. It’s just not a part of the language to put proper names in all lower case. Given the variety of conventions that do exist, it’s significant that this one is not part of them.

It’s also not my job to be controlled by them. They can do whatever they want with their names. When I’m writing it, I’m going to put a capital letter at the front.

As I said before, there are limits. And it is not discourteous to adhere to this one simple rule of English – in normal text, proper names are not all lower case.

Not to me. Capitalization is not like spelling.

I’m not teaching anyone a lesson, other than this – Engage in any old foolishness that you want to, but you can’t make me join in on this one.

I think the best thing for our OP to do is to tell “mary sullivan” that *your *name is always to be rendered in a larger font than the surrounding text. If she(?) agress to do that, then be a good sport and type her name in all-lowercase as she asks. If she’s not willing to accomodate *your *idiosyncracy, well … you know what to do.

So many great and thoughtful responses! And Dingbang, I am very sorry for misspelling your name! Ack! This is my first post so I thought the general board was the place; thanks for pointing out the IMHO board.

I appreciate each and every post. What a great group of individuals, and I’m not just saying that to suck up. Thanks! :slight_smile:

Welcome to the SDMB!


/oops all lower case. (But I don’t mind if someone capitalizes it.) :stuck_out_tongue:

You’re welcome. And we won’t even insist that you call us loretta.

Me, I’d chuckle, roll my eyes, and walk away.

For me, it depends on how I feel about the person. I like you? I’ll spell it however it makes you happy. I’m neutral towards you? I’ll attempt to spell it like you want it, but maybe will forget.

If I dislike you? You’re fair game. :wink: There was a girl in a class at college I could not stand. Her name was one of the family Catherine/Katherine/Kathryn… only with some creative spelling on top of the normal variations. I made it a point to spell it wrong each time, and tried to make it a different wrong version each time. She called me on it a few times, and I would just say, “Gee, I knew it’s a weird spelling, I just can never remember which…”

I think she hated me even more than I hated her. Hah!

But MacBain, Tane’sha, Q’sha, and La-Von aren’t pretentious affections. Those are the actual, legal, proper names. Of course they should be spelled correctly, including the hypens, commas, etc. That’s not an affectation.

They are pretentious, 61359. Capitalization and punctuation are sins, temptations of the devil.

People get to decide what to call themselves. Just like Liz can decide that she should be called “Liz” not “Elizabeth” or “Beth” or “Lizzie,” john can decide that his name is “john” and not “John.”

If they’re overly obnoxious in correcting a mistake, the problem is the obnoxiousness, not the request itself. But it’s their name.

Well sure. But if someone legally changes their name, to, say, mary sullivan from Mary Sullivan, then isn’t that also a legal, proper name?

Conversely, a child named Moon’Beam by her parents at birth who decides to legally change her name to mary sullivan as an adult and asks that her peers refer to her this way - not kosher because it’s not proper and legal, or the name she was born with?

I’m as irritated as anyone else by cutesy or pretentious. However, I think if someone sincerely wants their name de-capitalised, or something easy enough to accomodate with a keyboard - which rules out hearts or smiley faces to dot i’s - then why not?

Slight tangent: I volunteer for a non-profit. We have to fill out a fairly detailed information sheet on all of our clients. We are not to make assumptions about race, gender, etc. If someone who looks African-American self-identifies as Caucasian, or someone who looks like all intents and purposes like a man but self-identifies as a woman - well then that’s what they are listed as. I agree with this policy, and if someone wants to be called “Star” spelled “****”, then I would comply.

To the OP - yes I think it’s silly and pretentious and certainly not professional - but if I worked with this person I’d write their name all in lower case, if that’s what they wanted. I’d roll my eyes every time I had to do it, but I would do it.

“John” and “john” are not two different names, in the same way that “John” and “JOHN” are not two different names.

They get to decide what to call themselves but they don’t get to tell me to break conventional rules of capitalization. They can do it all they want but they don’t get to tell me to.

You know, if they legally changed their name to lowercase, I think I would go along with it because that IS their name then. (I don’t know that’s even possible to specify case in your legal name. Probably isn’t, for the same reason I’m arguing this point.) It would be weird and still wrong to me, but then it wouldn’t be just a pretentious affectation, it would be their actual name.

I doubt very much that the law will recognize any legal difference in a name based solely on capitalization. Every once in a while an anti-tax crank will claim that legal documents don’t apply to him because a court (or other legal entity) spelled his name in all capital letters (and his name is properly spelled only in initial caps), and courts routinely rule that there is no legal significance of capitalization.


In the OP’s scenario, I wonder if her colleague has actually had her name legally changed? If she is a professional and ever published, she certainly should do so if she wants to be taken seriously.

Interesting point…I wonder if it is indeed possible to legally specify case in a name change? I would think so - in my MacBain/Macbain scenario, or for someone who has apostophes or other characters as part of their proper name, those details make a difference.

Don’t even get me started on how often I am misspelled as McBain instead of MAcBain despite my stressing the “a” in my surname when I spell it out.

Actually they can’t do that. The legal names of people and corporations are not affected by capitalization. They’re going to put it in all caps on your driver’s license no matter what your preferences are.

So legally mary sullivan would be exactly the same as Mary Sullivan or MARY SULLIVAN or even MaRy SulliVan.

JoAnne McGillicuddy is going to be JOANNE MCGILLICUDDY. Joe van der Roeh is going to be JOE VAN DER ROEH. Etc.

Also: where are you going to file ****? How are other people supposed to know how to pronounce it and how to find ****'s file when they need it?