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How should I capitalize you, my Prince?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by JasonMel, Mar 26, 2011.

  1. JasonMel New Member

    Florida
    English - American
    "A prince is the son of a king."

    The word "prince" there should not be capitalized, since it's not used as part of someone's title.

    "The person who will inherit the throne of England is Prince Charles."

    Here, "Prince" is capitalized because "Prince Charles" is someone's title, and as such, a proper noun.

    "The song 'Purple Rain' was written by Prince."

    Here, "Prince" is capitalized because it's someone's name.

    Here are the cases about which I'm uncertain:

    Case 1: "Hey, there you are, Prince Ralph. What can I get for you, Prince?"
    Case 2: "Hey, there you are, Prince Ralph. What can I get for you, my Prince?"

    In each sentence, the latter of the two instances of "prince" do not use the full title, but they are used to directly address the prince. Should they be capitalized? My first instinct is to lowercase both of them, but I'm looking for additional opinions.

    Edit: The context is a work of fantasy fiction with the prince as the main character. The full formality that would hold in real world England, for example, need not apply.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2011
  2. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    I would use capitals as you have in your cases, Jason Mel. You are using "Prince Ralph", "Prince", and "my Prince" as ironic names for Ralph. You are speaking to Ralph when you say these things and substituting "Prince" and "my Prince" for "Ralph". They are names and should be capitalized. That's different than saying: Ralph is a prince among men.
     
  3. JasonMel New Member

    Florida
    English - American
    Actually, no, they're not intended ironically.
     
  4. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    Even if they're not, you're still using them as names in a direct address to "Ralph". Capitalize them.
     
  5. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    I'd capitalize the first but not the second, my reasoning being that in the first it's a title/abbreviated name, and in the second it isn't.
     
  6. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    That's a good point, Ewie. I think you're right: "my prince" uses "prince" as an ordinary noun. I'm sorry for leading you astray, Jason Mels.
     
  7. JasonMel New Member

    Florida
    English - American
    Rethinking this, isn't it analogous to the phrase "my Lord"? Surely in both the sentences

    Case 1: "Hey, there you are, Lord Ralph. What can I get for you, Lord?"
    Case 2: "Hey, there you are, Lord Ralph. What can I get for you, my Lord?"

    the word "Lord" should be capitalized?
     
  8. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    It's a very odd conversation to be talking so cavalierly to a prince. Anyone who addresses him in such a way doesn't seem to have any regard for his title or position. It's difficult to say what a person like that might use to address the prince.

    In any case, a prince is not usually addressed as "Prince" except when being announced or introduced. There is a protocol about forms of address for various titles. None of them that I know of would include "Prince" or "my Prince" in a conversation like this. It would be "your (royal) highness" or just "sir". Also, depending on the relationship between the speaker and the prince he might be referred to in the third person: "What may I offer his royal highness?"

    You might want to take a look at this chart in Wikipedia on forms of address for royalty in the United Kingdom:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forms_of_address_in_the_United_Kingdom
     
  9. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    Because we Americans aren't too familiar with "lords" and such, I took a look in the BNC* for examples from the speech of Britons. "My Lord" appears in both uppercase and lowercase letters:

    What, my lord , have you done with the nun?
    My Lord Mayor Councillor That's you I'd just like to remind Councillor of one or...
    My lord , you must tell us where the body is and go with us to the ...

    I so move my Lord Mayor. Seconded my Lord Mayor Those in favour?

    Most of the examples using capitals seem to be direct address to "My Lord Mayor" and other public officials.
    Most of the examples using lowercase letters seem to come from fiction by Shakespeare and other old writers.

    *British National Corpus
     
  10. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I don't think you would capitalize "my lord" unless it were part of a title, as in owlman5's examples of "my Lord Mayor".

    I'm a bit fuzzy on whether you would capitalize it or not in the case of referring to a deity. I think I would, but I'm not sure that would be correct.
     
  11. JasonMel New Member

    Florida
    English - American
    Very interesting. Thanks a lot! I had made the decision not to capitalize already, but I was having second thoughts. Looks like I decided correctly after all.
     

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