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CONLANG  August 2009, Week 3

CONLANG August 2009, Week 3

Subject:

Re: Punctuation, capitalization, collation

From:

Muke Tever <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Constructed Languages List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 17 Aug 2009 11:10:54 -0600

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Veoler <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Mark J. Reed wrote:
>> Basically, it's inconsistent. We say "the Earth", but we don't usually
>> capitalize *"the Planet", and I've seen "the World", but less often
>> than "the world." But I do usually see "the Galaxy".  These are all
>> clearly not proper names.
>
> My interpretation is that "Sol" and "Earth" are proper names, while
> "sun", "moon", and "planet" are common nouns. Earth is a planet, but
> the common noun "earth" primarily isn't synonymous to "planet".
>
> Another question: what about "Wednesday", "January" and others? They
> are common nouns in Swedish. With regard to the capitalization I don't
> care, but proper names in my conlang are morphologically distinct from
> common nouns, and I haven't yet decided how I should implement days of
> weeks and months of years.

A confounding factor is the polysemy of the term 'proper
noun/adjective'--for most people it only has the orthographical sense of
'something that's capitalized mid-sentence'; but the concept of
proper-nounhood outside of orthography is a lot harder to define
(especially since common names are often treated as proper, and vice
versa).

I was trying to define a system of capitalization for a language once, and
it's hard to do it systematically when properness and commonness are one
of the factors. Surnames, for example, are something that seem
universally treated as proper nouns orthographically but actually act a
lot more like common nouns in many respects (they don't [normally] refer
to a single referent, they don't differentiate their referent from other
items in the same family, etc.). Romance languages, among others, don't
capitalize ethnonyms, and is a modern surname really much more than an
ethnonym on a smaller scale?


*Muke!
--
http://frath.net/

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