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What's with those capital letters?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by wolfrau, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. wolfrau

    wolfrau New Member

    Warsaw
    Polish
    Hi, I prepared the project of my business card and showed it to my friend, native in english. That is the text I wrote: "Polish native speaker translating from German and English, specialising in technical fields."

    My friend corrected it to:

    "Polish Native Speaker - translates to / from English & German. Specialises in Technical Fields."

    What's with those capital letters everywhere? English is not German, where every noun needs to begin with a capital letter. He said you use it to emphasise certain things and it looks better. Does it? What do you think? Are those capital letters really necessary? Isn't my version better?
     
  2. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    Yours is definitely better in every respect, including not having the ampersand or the slash. Yours is a clear, complete phrase, properly punctuated, saying exactly what needs to be said, and needing no emphasis. Some people just Overdo The Emphasis. None of your friend's suggestions is even more typical of English usage than yours.
     
  3. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    You're right, he's wrong. Over-use of capital letters has the opposite effect to what your friend seeks -- it risks making him look childish. In fact, in the Winnie-the-Pooh books, this is exactly what A.A. Milne does to emphasise the naivety of the boy and his toys.

    Avoid it. On this card only the three nationalities and the first word after the full stop need capitals.
     
  4. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Kudos to KB, above.
    There are indeed under-educated, clueless and ignorant native speakers who indulge in random and senseless acts of capitalization, as well as non-native speakers of the same ilk, such as your friend.
    Not only better, but correct as his is not.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
  5. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    Personally, I don't think it's worse, but it's is also not very good. I don't see business cards with whole sentences on them and the sentence isn't going to fit on one line unless it's too small to read. I'd expect to see bullet points
    The second one looks like a business card; the first one looks like a slip from a fortune cookie.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
  6. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Good idea.


    ...but it still doesn't need a capital letter for documents!
     
  7. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    The person writing the new version was probably going for the style used for titles and headlines. Personally, I never liked that style - there's a lot of variation in the style guides as to what isn't capitlaized and it seems arbitrary.
     
  8. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Headlines are not business cards, and British headlines don't use those capitals anyway.

    Since the end of the 18th century, English has moved away from German-type capitalisation. Nowadays, capitals are for proper nouns, adjectives derived from them, the first word in a sentence, and the pronoun "I". Is all.
     
  9. wolfrau

    wolfrau New Member

    Warsaw
    Polish
    Didn't really expect to hear that, thank you guys. There is one more thing - he also changed "Professional Translation Services" to "Professional Translation Service". Was he right to do that? Plural form sounds somehow better to me.
     
  10. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    It depends. Do you offer one service or several services?
     
  11. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English

    Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::


    services /ˈsɜːvɪsɪz/pl n
    • work performed for remuneration


    The dictionary seems to like the plural.
     
  12. wolfrau

    wolfrau New Member

    Warsaw
    Polish
    Google also seems to like it better.

    I offer not only translation, but also services "around" translation, like proofreading. I guess "services" will be better.

    Thank you for all your valuable help.
     
  13. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    I prefer services, too - though service is used in this context as well.
     
  14. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    I agree. That was a typo. :eek:
     
  15. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I suspect that your friend is treating "Polish Native Speaker" as a title. Business cards frequently have such titles. I would infact do a variation on that.

    Polish to German & English Translation Services
    Native Polish speaker specializing in technical fields
    Wolfrau Jones
    Phone: 110-10-9876
    E-mail: Wolfie@internet.com

    The first line (bold face) describes as succinctly as possible the services offered and is treated as a title (like a book title--hence the caps).
    The second line gives additional required information
    Then add all your contact listings, including Phone, Fax (if you have one), E-mail, physical mailing address (optional for this sort of service I would imagine), Face-book, etc.





    E-mail: Wolfie@internet.com
     
  16. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)

    Indeed and business cards are not headlines. However, the re-writer obviously thought it would look better with the capitals, the way some title and headline writers do. The style I was referring to is unrelated to German-type capitalization (which capitalizes nouns) and is commonly used in the US (and is also a menu option in Microsoft Word and possibly other word processors - I've never checked which style guide it follows): this sentence is "lower case". THIS SENTENCE IS "UPPER CASE" (please excuse the apparent shouting). This Sentence Is "Capitalized". Book titles in the UK often use this style.

    When it comes to selecting the appropriate style, by definition we leave the realm of "correct" and "incorrect" - unless of course you pick the wrong style - like using title style for your prose (or in some parts, vice versa!) - but which title style you adhere to will depend on your publisher :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
  17. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    The style Julian is referring to is called "title case" (in the old days, e.g., back when I first graduated from journalism school, we called it "up style"). In it, all nouns, verbs and "principal words" are capped (as well as the first word of the line, no matter what it is). Some newspapers use it to this day, including The New York Times. He's right that it's not certainly not incorrect. It is not usually used on business cards, however, so that's one reason I wouldn't recommend it here. It is, in addition, a fussy style that's difficult to apply consistently. I am not sure how The Times' headline writers do so without going slightly crazy.
     
  18. JuanEscritor

    JuanEscritor Senior Member

    Minnesota
    English - AE
    Whatever is done, I think we at least need to change Polish native... to Native Polish...

    JE
     
  19. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English

    I would go further and say (as I did above in my post) "native Polish speaker..."
     
  20. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    Most business cards tend to be a minefield of capital letters for the right reasons as they generally consist of proper names, titles, addresses, and headings. The only thing not capitalized on my business card is my email address so I can understand why someone might want to think that "extra capitals" look better.
     
  21. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Hullo, wolfrau.

    From your own version:

    "Polish native speaker translating from German and English, specialising in technical fields."

    I would gather that you offer to translate from German and English into Polish.

    Your friend's version:

    "Polish Native Speaker - translates to / from English & German. Specialises in Technical Fields."

    would encourage one to ask you to translate from English and German into Polish as well as from Polish into English and German.

    I think there's a great difference between the two jobs.

    GS :)
     
  22. wolfrau

    wolfrau New Member

    Warsaw
    Polish
    Native polish speaker? Now that is something I wouldn't come up with. Seems like my friend got so concentrated on writing capital letters everywhere that he forgot to correct that. He also vehemently corrects american english forms to british english forms.

    Giorgio, I don't want to indicate that I translate into EN or DE as there is a rule saying that you are supposed to translate only into your own language. However, some people ask me to translate into DE or EN anyway as they apparently accept the fact that the translation may need proofreading.
     

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