Re: OT: Capitalisation to signify uniqueness
|From:||Muke Tever <hotblack@...>|
|Date:||Friday, March 11, 2005, 15:03|
Mike Ellis <nihilsum@...> wrote:
> Gary Shannon wrote:
>> Just an odd random observation:
>> While reading a book on philosophy just now I came
>> across the word "Reality" spelled with an uppercase
>> "R" much as we might write "God" with a capital "G".
>> Yet when we speak of the Roman gods we do not
>> capitalize the word "gods". It occured to me that
>> this is a subtle way that English has of signifying
>> that the thing under discussion is thought to be the
>> one and only instance of that thing. I thought about
>> a hypothetical world where only one book existed in
>> the whole world. If we lived in that world (and
>> spolke English) surely we would refer to this object
>> as "The Book", and not simply "the book."
> Here, we have "the List".
> This'll work in French, Spanish, any language that capitalises proper nouns.
> It kind of turns the word for something into a proper name ("God" is a
> proper name, isn't it?).
In English "God" is originally a case of a title being used as a name, yes.
The same capitalization happens in similar contexts when someone specific is
addressed or referred to by their title, "Mother" is another example. Though
in English "God" has crowded out the common use of any other name for the deity,
so a construct like "the God of the Israelites" is not parallel to "the god of
the Norsemen" but rather "the Odin of the Norsemen", say.
Titles also get capitalized when used with a name, e.g. President Johnson.
>> I wondered if other natlangs or conlangs had some
>> subtle way of signifying that the thing under
>> discussion was thought to be unique in all of Reality.
> Articles could do something like this -- I'm sure I remember some discussion
> way back about some conlang with an article that marks "the one and only X".
It might have been mine; one of my conlangs had such an article (I called it a
"titular article"). I remember the form was "há" [hQ:]. I don't remember if
it's still present in the current version of the language (Kirumb) though.
(Then again, it might not have been mine; I seem to remember another having
been mentioned in the interim.)
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