Capitalization of Oriental and Occidental

Discussion in 'English Only' started by badgrammar, Apr 3, 2007.

  1. Hello, i wanted to get some opinions on when one should capitalize the words "Oriental"/"Orient" and "Occidental"/"Occident". Which also begs the question of when to capitalize "East" and "West.

    Here are a few example sentences:

    "The sixth scene explores an oriental vision of public and private domains"
    "The sixth scene is an exploration of how the orient views public and private..."

    "How do occidental attitudes affect relations between the East and the West"

    I am fairly sure it is a simple question, but for the life of me I cannot remember how it works.

  2. pachomius

    pachomius Senior Member

    USA / American English
    My understanding is that you would capitalize when referring to the culture, but not when referring to the compass direction.
    So, in your example sentences, all would be capitalized - "Oriental vision", "the Orient views", "Occidental attitudes". Of course, where the line is drawn may still be hard to distinguish - when I think of "oriental food" or "oriental carpets", I wouldn't capitalize them, but I think they refer to the Oriental culture more than eastern geography.
    East and West work the same way, I believe. And there the cultural divide is even clearer - Australia, for instance, I would say is Western even though it is clearly in the eastern hemisphere.
    Tricky question!
  3. Thanks Pach, so maybe there is a reason that I have a hard time remembering the rules... Your explanation sounds completely right to me, including the oriental carpets/food thing, and of the course, the fact that there are some case that are not completely clear...

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