Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Are Capital Letters Dying Out?

I see so much Writing on the Web these days without Capital Letters. Younger people especially seem to have an aversion to the Shift Key. Could Capital Letters be on the way out? Will they eventually disappear from our Language entirely?

Language continuously changes, and English used to be written with a lot more Capital Letters than we use today. For example, consider the last paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Look at all those capitalized words! They're everywhere. The first sentence has 39 capitalized words in it!
At one time, about 250 years ago, it was Common in English Writing to
capitalize all Nouns, as is the convention among modern Germans. (link)

Perhaps one day children will ask the old folks, "you mean in your day you had two ways of writing each letter? and you had to remember which type to use where? how confusing and inefficient. i could never remember all that. it's crazy."

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