Bugbear #2 /// The uppercase L

The uppercase L is a mystery to me. As in: “Join us at the Library for amazing things.” Because library is not a proper noun.

I see the L everywhere. Why? Turns out there is a great post about it at Grammar Girl:

Pride Capitals and Ideal Forms
One mistake business writers often make is capitalizing words simply for emphasis or to augment their importance. Such errant capitalization happens frequently in press releases and other promotional materials. Hyperbole is no stranger in that realm. Nevertheless, it does not make your pork rinds crunchier and tastier if you capitalize the words “Pork” and “Rinds.”

Murray Munn commented on the “Pork Rind” kind of capitalization on the Grammar Girl Facebook page. He calls them “pride capitals” and speculates that “What we admire, we capitalize.” For example, he says he often sees librarians write “library” with a capital L.

Murray isn’t far from the truth because sometimes it actually is OK to capitalize words we admire. In its section on Platonic words, the Chicago Manual of Style offers this:

[quote] “Words for transcendent ideas in the Platonic sense, especially when used in a religious context, are often capitalized. Good; Beauty; Truth; the One.” [end quote] And Chocolate. OK, maybe not chocolate, but, let’s face it, there are some occasions … And although we’d like to believe “library” deserves a capital l, it doesn’t.

So, let’s stop capitalizing library, please. It doesn’t mean we’re any less awesome.

[This is Plato.]


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