LINGUIST List 5.760

Wed 29 Jun 1994

Disc: Orthographic peculiarities

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  1. "Ellen L. Contini-Morava", orthographic peculiarities
  2. "Michael Hancher", Re: 5.693 Qs: Small caps, Latin vowels, Tibetan/Nepali/Newari, Dynavox

Message 1: orthographic peculiarities

Date: Sat, 18 Jun 1994 09:52:54 orthographic peculiarities
From: "Ellen L. Contini-Morava" <elc9jfaraday.clas.virginia.edu>
Subject: orthographic peculiarities

Speaking of peculiarities in punctuation, what about the use of 's for
plurals in written English? Some examples:

(a) You can see Giant Manta Ray's [from an ad in Skin Diver Magazine]

(b) the 1980's [commonplace transcription]

(c) the high frequency of 1's and 2's [from a linguistics paper]

(d) FAQ's [=Frequently Asked Questions, common network abbreviation]

 It seems to me that the apostrophe in examples like this is
functioning as an alerting device that the word being pluralized
departs from the canonical written "word" in some way, where canonical
means a continuous sequence of letters that is either pronounced
approximately as spelled or contains at most a single (initial)
upper case letter. Example (a) is a "word" (from the point of
view of what is being pluralized) that contains spaces, i.e. is not
a continuous sequence of letters. Examples (b) and (c) have numbers instead
of letters. Example (d) is at least sometimes pronounced as a
sequence of separate letters (there is some variation on this point).
However, my informant (my 13 year old daughter) tells me that the preferred
 spelling for MUSHes [=Multi-User Shared
Hallucination] is what I've just written. Two possible explanations
for this occur to me: there already is a word 'mush' in English, so
this doesn't insult the eye as much as e.g. FAQ (my informant's
theory), and/or it ends in -sh, so follows the rule for normal words
of this type (plural in -es rather than -s). If the latter, perhaps the e is
 enough
of a separation so that it can serve the alerting function that the
apostrophe serves in the other cases.

Ellen Contini-Morava
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Message 2: Re: 5.693 Qs: Small caps, Latin vowels, Tibetan/Nepali/Newari, Dynavox

Date: Tue, 21 Jun 94 10:28:05 CSRe: 5.693 Qs: Small caps, Latin vowels, Tibetan/Nepali/Newari, Dynavox
From: "Michael Hancher" <mhmaroon.tc.umn.edu>
Subject: Re: 5.693 Qs: Small caps, Latin vowels, Tibetan/Nepali/Newari, Dynavox

>Date: Wed, 15 Jun 1994 19:10:46 +0900
>From: Narahiko Inoue <inouenfukuoka-edu.ac.jp>
>Subject: query: small caps in literary texts
>
>Dear Linguists:
>
>Is there a general rule in the use of small caps in literary texts
>such as poems and novels? If it's for emphasis, what's the difference
>from italics? These questions were prompted by one of the students
>here who was reading Coleridge's "The Rime of The Ancient Mariner" and
>found the words like "Albatross" and "Life-in-Death" in small caps. I
>would appreciate both the explanation of this particular problem and
>any lead to information about typographical devices in literary or
>other texts.
>
>Thank you in advance.
>
>Narahiko Inoue
>
>Associate Professor 729 Akama, Munakata, 811-41 JAPAN
>Department of Foreign Languages Phone: +81-940-35-1320 (office)
>Fukuoka University of Education +81-940-32-8319 (home)

According to William Savage, _A Dictionary of the Art of Printing_ (London:
Longman, 1841), small capitals are used for, among other things, "emphatic
words." He doesn't distinguish a special kind of emphasis. Savage's
Dictionary_ has been reprinted in English Bibliographical Sources, Series
3: Printers' Manuals (London: Gregg). Other handbooks in the series,
closer to Coleridge, include works by Caleb Stower, John Johnson, Thomas C.
Hansard, and Charles H. Timperley; they might be worth checking.

---------------
Michael Hancher
Professor of English
University of Minnesota
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