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A Capital Question of Grammar
in Martin's blogs & appearances & MoneySavingExpert in the news
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Former_MSE_Lawrence Former MSE
This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's “A Capital Question of Grammar” blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.
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Trademarks that begin with a lowercase letter
Trademarks that officially begin with a lowercase letter raise several problems because they break the normal capitalization rules of English that trademarks, as proper nouns, are written with initial capital letters wherever they occur in a sentence. The following guidelines represent a consensus that compromises between the preferred treatment of a trademark owner and the rules of standard written English.
So in summary a sentence starting with 'npower' should be capitalised and you should rephrase to avoid starting a sentence with 'iTunes' or 'eBay'.
- Trademarks rendered without any capitals are always capitalized:
- avoid: thirtysomething is a television show that may have been sponsored by adidas, but not by craigslist, because the show was over before craigslist existed.
- instead, use: Thirtysomething is a television show that may have been sponsored by Adidas, but not by Craigslist, because the show was over before Craigslist existed.
- Trademarks beginning with a one-letter lowercase prefix pronounced as a separate letter do not need to be capitalized if the second letter is capitalized, but should otherwise follow normal capitalization rules:
- avoid: EBay is where he bought his IPod.
- instead, use: eBay is where he bought his iPod.
- But, if possible, rephrase to avoid beginning sentences with such trademarks:
- He bought his iPod on eBay.
While npower themselves use lowercase throughout their website (you have to dig a bit to find an example of the name at a start of a sentence.)
Can you tell I'm a bit light on work today?
- If a trademark ends with an "s" such as "Friends", it never has an apostrophe, either before or after that final "s" (just an example - depends on the owner's rules).
- If a trademark uses block capitals, such as FRIENDS, it should never be written in lower case.
Unfortunately, without intimate knowledge of the trademark in question, these rules are often difficult to observe (and even "Naafi" is often found in the press)...
In the case of npower, the trademark owners would not agree with Wikipedia. See their own website for an example of "npower" at the beginning of a sentence, in complete lower caps:
http://www.npowerjobs.co.uk/about/history/ - click on 2005
Unsecured Debt | [strike]£7,000[/strike] £0
Lodgers | |
Yes, it's called hypercorrection but it's just not right!
Sorry, couldn't resist!
I enthusiastically agree. It can't still be trendy to use lower case for names, etc. It just looks sloppy English and it irritates me. And what's more, unless your spellcheck is still at its U.S. language default, the word is capitalise, not capitalize.
I think you'll find that -ize is a perfectly correct BE variant. The OED doesn't even list "capitalise" as a separate entry
Chambers (2000): "capitalize or -ise.....; to print or write with capital letters or an initial capital letter"
This would indicate that the preferred spelling is with the z.