Re: why the fuck should arach be suspended for not using fucking capitals????
No, not at all - why should it be no help?
My original point was that it is a help, and I got the impression that you might be debating that point. If you're not, good.
As it's easy for the post-writer to do, and it's reasonable to assume that readers of any given post far outnumber the writer, I think it makes sense for the easy readability of the board that we all do it.
Basically, I try my best to capitalize sentences only because I have not yet earned the right to be famous NOT doing it, such as ee cummings.
Cummings capitalized like everyone else when he wrote prose, and often preferred to capitalize his name. He's distinctly irrelevant to the question of whether or not it's easier to distinguish between sentences on discussion boards when people capitalize their initial letters.
would we be interested in discussing this question?
which one reads faster, and is easier on the eyes?
Speed-wise, the second is slightly better for me, and seems much easier on the eyes (in this color scheme, certainly). So, from your little experiment, I vote that we continue to use lower case as the basis.
Then, a bright idea would be to put capitals in at the beginnings of sentences to help distinguish between them, and perhaps for any words we choose to emphasise, then we can understand how and why practical modern English evolved.
In other words, we're back to square one, and both of your examples are worse.
i had sort of thought about putting together a new topic on this, going over the history of capitalization and whatnot, and a discussion about its relevance in a language that changes as fluidly as english...
The history would be interesting.
-- and more importantly whether or not capitalization should be a suspendable offense.
You'd be alone on the board if it were!
...perhaps i will put it together when moose gets around to suspending me for this post.
On past form, he seems to do it once every 8,000 or so non-capitalized posts, so you should be O.K. for a while.
Are you sure you aren't over-intellectualizing your non-capitalization, when it might just be a simple case of "I can't be bothered to hit the shift key?"
On the lighter side, I just remembered an old joke about capitalizing proper nouns. It can occasionally make a difference, as in:
i think it's important to understand that english is a fluid and changing language, that capitalization is one such factor that has changed and will continue to change. english also lacks a formal board of any type that determines the rules for the language; these decisions are based mostly on common practices.
Of course all languages evolve, but where I disagree with you is on your predictions of the future of capitalization. Let's examine where capitalization is now, and what natural selection might protect for practical purposes.
Firstly, the pronoun "I". Its capitalization is random, and we could easily capitalize all pronouns or none without significant loss or gain in communication. So, I see no practical conservation from natural selection for that one, although it shows no signs of going.
Secondly, the proper nouns. Here, I can see a slight advantage of economy, because we can completely change the meaning of identical spellings with the capital. It's not just uncle Jack (to be Frank) but I see no practical reason for Moose to Don his heavy judges wig, and Sue you if you choose to ignore them, as confusion would be rare. My guess is that they'll probably stay in the language in the foreseeable future.
Thirdly, the initial letters of sentences. I predict that natural selection will conserve this, because it definitely helps in highlighting the beginnings and ends of sentences. It could only be threatened by the changing of the period symbol into something more visible. At present, we're stuck with the least visible punctuation symbol in one of the most important roles.
So, that's the one that detracts from your otherwise excellent posts, IMO.
As I said to Mr Jack further up the thread (and subbie makes the same point) I agree that there are far more serious abuses of the language going on from a few EvC posters. But faults from the rest of us don't help in discouraging this.
Analysing the early uses of capitalization as pretty random makes no difference. It's practical reasons for selection on what's there now that I'm talking about.
you might be surprised. the internet (especially twitter) is quickly changing the grammatical norms.
I don't think so. Things like twitter just reflect the spoken English that was already there. We don't capitalize and use formal grammar when we chat. Technology has enabled us to chat by typing (texting, short messages on message boards, online chat, twitter, etc.). Many people leave out the caps on these.
If you check out fairly informal sites (like this one) where people put together substantial amounts of text for others to read, capitalization is the norm. None of the regular posters in the last couple of years, in your absence, has been cap-free.
I just had a look at another evolution/creation discussion forum which has much more relaxed moderation than this one. I skimmed through about 200 posts. I couldn't find a single "arach" poster there. Some people leave out the caps on one liners (like tweeting), but they all include them in substantial posts.
Then I looked at a science forum. No arachs there, but the same for one-liners and one word comments.
Then I looked at a forum discussing literature. No arachs.
I tried a Harry Potter discussion forum, thinking that there must be child arachs, but there weren't really. Short messages with no caps, but the substantial posts were all capitalized. One kid managed over fifty words without a capital, but her post was an incoherent mess in many other ways, so I'm not sure if that's a true arach, or just an illiterate.
A true arach is not (necessarily) illiterate, but religiously leaves out all capitals, either because he/she can't be bothered to hit the shift key, or, supposedly, because he or she thinks it's the future of the written English language.
People who read a lot and read quickly are not going to want one of the signs of a sentence break removed.
The point about something like twitter, with its 140 character limit, is that it doesn't matter too much from the point of view of readers if writers don't capitalize. (Looking in at the twenty top tweets a while ago, nineteen of these actually did capitalize, and there's no reason to suppose that the twentieth tweeter was an arach on the basis of about 15 words).
The site itself, like every other practical website, capitalizes its fixed text, trade name "twitter" excepted.
Right you are. I was thinking of sentence spacing. And I'm showing my age, because I can remember submitting manuscripts to publishers whose readers wanted the two spaces between sentences on our typescripts.
This Wiki article says it's still sometimes debated.
But my basic point holds, really, because that whole issue was about the clarity of the demarcation between sentences, and that's the practical problem that I'm claiming is the main reason for capitalization on boards like this one.
Language evolves, but I don't think something disadvantageous will go to fixation!
in any case, in reference to the original sub-thread title, there's a very famous message board with a somewhat high percentage of lowercase posts.
You're still confusing message sending, chat, tweeting etc. with writing something substantial in English.
Our new-found ability to chat and message by keyboard is not the first time technology has led to widespread abbreviation. Pay per. word telegrams often went something like this:
Arriving train 8:40. Bringing book map dog kettle.
Semaphore and Morse messages when written down are other examples.
And in handwritten English, a note for the milkman might be:
EXTRA PINT PLEASE NO CREAM - MONEY SATURDAY.
This kind of thing didn't herald a revolution in formal written English.
You will have put up individual posts of more than 200 words since returning to EvC. If the "arach" revolution is going on, it should be easy for you to find on the web ten different pieces by ten different authors of that length or longer that are completely devoid of capitals.
If you look hard and long enough, you'll eventially find them, but the difficulty should make my point clear.
If you do attempt to find them (and your claim that there is a revolution in written English going on does require support) I'll predict something. The mistake rate in the posts will be higher than yours (and that of most EvC posters), so what you've probably found are slobs, not true "Arachs".
People are reading the posts here for the content. If the poster does anything technical that's unusual, the reading brain tends to be distracted. That's why languages have formal written forms.
I'm interested in your revolution idea, and perhaps we should have a thread on it. Language actually evolves, and I can't think of a true revolution in the history of English so far. The language wouldn't go from the present capitalization to all caps or zero caps in less than 200 years. Reading brains are essentially conservative when there's no strong reason for change.
It'll be a long time (if ever) before you're able to read a print "arach" novel, or an "arach" newspaper.
I think that Moose was being entirely reasonable if he requested that you capitalize before suspending you.
i believe the pertinent question is whether a message board is an application of "formal written english", or more akin to "message sending, chat, tweeting etc".
i would argue the latter.
I suppose this could be called a "message board", but discussion/debate board might be a better description.
"This kind of thing [abbreviated messages] didn't herald a revolution in formal written English."
Neither did it herald a revolution in standard English or semi-formal written English.
Certainly, we don't use the strict formal English of business letters or legal documents here. Intelligent designer forbid!
But members are using standard English and sticking close to the main rules of grammar, which is why everyone but you is capitalizing. If the chat facility were still available, that would certainly be completely informal, and "akin to message sending, chat, tweeting etc.". Also, threads like the humour thread and some light coffee house threads could be pretty much "anything goes" areas.
I'd describe EvC as semi-formal on serious threads, merely by looking at what people do, not as a statement of what I think it should be. As I mentioned in another post, other evolution/creation boards also fit that description. I can't find real arachs easily.
There's no reason why there couldn't be a board discussing the topics we discuss here which welcomed casual English. It would probably be short of readers though.
Perhaps Moose just doesn't want standards to slip. Think where things could go.
i think U scientists R lying about EVO cos theirs no transitionals. anyway if we come from munkeys, Y R their still munkeys.
That's a two liner, but who the hell wants to read through hundreds of words of stuff like that in a post?
Then, when facing suspension, that poster might say:
U R biased. one evo made 8,000 posts with no capitols and U dont suspend him.
lower-cases in formal writing exist because of informal usage. so, i think, it is perhaps wrong-headed to claim that informal communication does not lead to innovation in formal writing.
The history of the development of the lower case that you're describing came from a literate minority writing and copying documents in a way which is much more painstaking and formal than our communication here. They set standards, and they changed standards over time, usually following what they perceived as practical. They were not language anarchists.
The letters did not develop from the ways in which the illiterate masses of the time were communicating amongst themselves. They did not come from casual chat. They are nothing to do with the twitterers and gossipers of the day! As I said before, because we can now chat and gossip using keyboards, that does not mean that the standards are changing for written English.
Changes in casual conversational English certainly bring new words into the written language, and can also change the meaning of existing ones. That's constant, and is an evolutionary process.
In the evolution of written English, I think I'm right in saying that the last major change in relation to cases would have been the demise of the capitalized ordinary noun, presumably during the eighteenth century. From the end of that century onwards, things seem to have hardly changed, so the standard that we read in a Jane Austen novel is easily recognizable.
So, what I'm disputing is your claim that casual chat and gossip is leading a revolution in the written prose standards. I think it's because of the fact that you can now see casual chat in print on the screen, instead of just hearing it or perhaps seeing it in the notes kids pass around in the classroom, that you've made that mistake.
How people twitter doesn't change the standard for boards like this, and how we write here won't effect the standards for highly formal legal documents, or the peer reviewed papers you mentioned.
As I keep saying, I can't find masses of arachs around the internet writing lengthy prose without caps.
Perhaps Moose should get you to back up your revolution claim by finding us ten true arachs on discussion boards that could be said to be equivalents of this one. They must be consistently making substantial posts without caps. Maybe I'll P.M. him and suggest this. The way to support your case is with evidence. Where are all the true arachs?
It's my impression that the Peanut Gallery has turned into a giant mess.
1. All future "Peanut Gallery" topics be specifically tied to an individual "Great Debate" topic.
2.GD participants do not post to the PG.
3.GD participants can pull material from the PG, but only if such supports that participant's perspective (as always, source links are a good thing). A "Great Debate" participant is not to bring in and debate opposing perspectives from the PG.
I agree entirely with proposition (1), but not the rest. It works fine as it is now, apart from that one point. I don't think it's a good idea to overload the board with unnecessary rules.
Currently, a spin off thread on Epistomology might help things, if someone's interested enough to start one, as there's a sort of subthread developing on that in the PG.