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  1. #1
    marenparn is offline Junior Member
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    Default Capitalisation of nouns in the middle of the sentence

    Hello

    Many English tend to arbitrarily capitalise almost anything in the middle of the sentence:( I'm not particularly fond of reading texts where every second noun is capitalised. Therefore I try to be very cautious with it.

    I'm translating a food related text into English, and have encountered terms, such as
    grana padano
    pecorino
    mozzarella
    parmigiano
    béchamel sauce

    I would not capitalise them, but checking in the web, apparently they ARE often capitalised. Which of them is the better way - to capitalise or not to capitalise?

    But what about pecorino Romano and pecorino Sardo? And parmigiano reggiano? Or would it be wise to use parmesan instead of the latter?

    Thanks a lot in advance for any suggestions.
    Last edited by marenparn; 03-May-2012 at 10:34. Reason: More accurate title

  2. #2
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Capitalisation of nouns in the middle of the sentence

    If the names are considered proper nouns, then they are capitalized.

    "Parmigiano-Reggiano" is derived from the names of cities. "Mozzarella" is not.

    I would capitalize the first and not the second. Then again, "mozzarella" is a common thing, so it would seem strange to treat it as a proper noun.

    In your case, unless you want to investigate the origins of each term, I would consider them all to be proper nouns.

  3. #3
    BobSmith is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Capitalisation of nouns in the middle of the sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    I would capitalize the first and not the second. Then again, "mozzarella" is a common thing, so it would seem strange to treat it as a proper noun.
    It gets worse. I learned just last week that "common" words that have "proper" sources are always capitalized, Coke, Rollerblades, Kleenex, etc., even when used for their common counterparts.

  4. #4
    marenparn is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Capitalisation of nouns in the middle of the sentence

    Thanks a million.
    I understand Coke, Rollerblades and Kleenex that are actually trademarks, the same is in the case of e.g Xerox.

    I dug a little deeper (All my reference comes from Oxford Dictionaries Online).
    Parmesan:
    Spelling help
    Spell
    Parmesan
    with a capital
    P
    and an
    e
    after the
    m
    (it is named after the Italian city of
    Parma
    ).
    but
    béchamel
    (also béchamel sauce)
    Origin:
    named after the Marquis Louis de Béchamel (died 1703), steward to Louis XIV of France, who is said to have invented a similar sauce
    Although being derived from a proper name, béchamel is not capitalised. Why?
    And what to do if 'pecorino' doesn't need capitalisation, but Romano does? Should I capitalise both?

    I thought could be saved by some kind of a general rule but it's obvious now that I have to check every case separately.

  5. #5
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Capitalisation of nouns in the middle of the sentence

    Although being derived from a proper name, béchamel is not capitalised. Why?
    I don't know. I would capitalize it.

    Then consider the metric system. Units of measurement are all given as lowercase, even those named after people. like the newton or the watt. Then they go and use capital letters for the unit's abbreviation (N or W).

  6. #6
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Capitalisation of nouns in the middle of the sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by BobSmith View Post
    It gets worse. I learned just last week that "common" words that have "proper" sources are always capitalized, Coke, Rollerblades, Kleenex, etc., even when used for their common counterparts.
    To be fair, the "common counterpart" of "Coke/Coca Cola" should be referred to as "cola". I've never seen rollerblades capitalised.

    I believe that using "Kleenex" to refer to generic paper handkerchiefs is more common in AmE. In BrE, we just call them "tissues".

    There are a few brand names which are now used more frequently as a common noun. The first one which springs to mind is "hoover". Again, that's mainly in BrE. In AmE, I think it's a vacuum or vacuum cleaner. The first one was made by the company Hoover but it's rarely capitalised in BrE.

  7. #7
    BobSmith is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Capitalisation of nouns in the middle of the sentence

    No, as I pointed out last week, many places in the US use "Coke" to mean "soda" (not just cola-flavored soda - as in, "What flavor Coke do you want?"), and as I learned, Coke is capitalized. Rollerblades are also (originally) a proper noun, just like Xerox, and should be capitalized, even when using it in a generic sense.

  8. #8
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Capitalisation of nouns in the middle of the sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by BobSmith View Post
    No, as I pointed out last week, many places in the US use "Coke" to mean "soda" (not just cola-flavored soda - as in, "What flavor Coke do you want?"), and as I learned, Coke is capitalized. Rollerblades are also (originally) a proper noun, just like Xerox, and should be capitalized, even when using it in a generic sense.
    Who says they 'should' be capitalised? If my inline skates are made by that company, then I use the capital letter initially. However, if I use the word to mean just to mean 'inline skates' (noun) or 'inline skate (verb) , then it would be misleading to use a capital letter.

  9. #9
    BobSmith is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Capitalisation of nouns in the middle of the sentence

    Then don't capitalize coke or xerox either (when used in the generic sense).

  10. #10
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Capitalisation of nouns in the middle of the sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    If my inline skates are made by that company, then I use the capital letter initially.
    You have rollerblades?!

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