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特朗普喜欢把首字母大写,你了解真正的规则吗

更新时间:2018-7-6 20:15:44 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Trump Uses Random Uppercase Letters, but Should You? An Issue of Capital Importance
特朗普喜欢把首字母大写,你了解真正的规则吗

President Trump boasted Tuesday on Twitter about his ability to write. Specifically, he defended his seemingly random use of capitalization.

特朗普总统周二在Twitter上吹嘘自己的写作能力。具体来说,他为自己看上去很随机的字母大小写规则做了辩护。

His method?

他的方法是什么?

He said he uppercases certain words for “emphasis” — not because they should, in fact, be capitalized.

他说,他把某些词的首字母大写,以此来表示“强调”——不是因为它们实际上应该被大写。

(His tweet, which was later deleted and reposted, also used an incorrect homophone — “pour” instead of “pore” — and contained a dangling modifier. But that’s a story for another day.)

(他的推文后来被删除并重发,因为之前的推文使用了一个不正确的同音字——应该是“pore”[注视],他却用了“pour”[倾倒]——并且包含一个悬垂修饰语。但那个就得改天再说了。)

Mr. Trump’s distinctive philosophy of capitalization has brought us Witch Hunt and Fake News, a big-B Border and Crime with a capital C.

“Witch Hunt”(猎巫行动)、“Fake News”(假新闻)、用了大写B的“Border”(边境)和大写C的“Crime”(犯罪),这些都是特朗普独有的大小写哲学带给我们的。

But what are the actual rules of capitalization? And, in an era of tweeting, texting and Trump, when is it O.K. to break them? We talked to experts and channeled our inner nerds to bring you this handy guide.

但是真正的首字母大写规则是什么?而且,在推特、短信和特朗普的时代,什么时候可以打破这些规则?我们采访了专家,释放我们内心的书呆子气,为你带来这个方便的指南。

Why are we talking about capitalization?

我们为什么要讨论首字母大写问题?

Experts say overcapitalization can be traced to the 17th and 18th centuries, when it was common to uppercase many significant words.

专家表示,对首字母大写的过度使用可以追溯到17世纪和18世纪,当时把重要词汇的首字母大写是很普遍的做法。

In line with the times, the founding fathers used this style in the United States Constitution, said Kory Stamper, a lexicographer and the author of “Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries.”

词典学家、《逐字逐句——字典的秘密生活》(Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries)一书的作者科利·斯坦帕(Kory Stamper)说,国父们是依照那个时代的风气,在美国宪法中使用这一体例的。

Over the past several years, Ms. Stamper said, she has noticed that some people with conservative viewpoints have increasingly used frequent capitalization. “There is definitely a heavy tie to wanting to mimic the founding fathers, and they seem to have latched on to capitalization as the way to do it,” she said.

在过去几年里,斯坦帕说,她注意到越来越多的保守人士开始频繁使用首字母大写。“这肯定跟想要模仿开国先贤有很大关系,他们似乎已经把首字母大写作为实现这一点的方式,”她说。

When should I use capitalization?

什么时候应该使用首字母大写?

Most people know that you should capitalize the first word in a sentence, the pronoun “I” and proper nouns.

大多数人都知道,应该把句子中的第一个单词,代词“I”(我)和专有名词的首字母大写。

There are other times when capitalization is needed, but, even at this basic level, things can start to get tricky.

还有一些时候也需要首字母大写,但是,即使在基本层面,情况也会变得很复杂。

“The confusion tends to be around what’s considered a proper noun and what’s not,” Ms. Stamper said. “Is ‘earth’ a proper noun? When do you capitalize titles and honorifics like ‘president’ or ‘prime minister’?”

“混淆往往围绕着什么应当被视为专有名词,什么不是专有名词,”斯坦帕说。“‘地球’是专有名词吗?在什么情况下,‘总统’或‘总理’这样的头衔和尊称应该首字母大写?”

What is a proper noun?

什么是专有名词?

Dictionary.com defines a proper noun as the name of a specific person (Beyoncé), place (Paris), company or institution (The New York Times) or thing (Golden Gate Bridge).

Dictionary.com网站将专有名词定义为特定的人(如Beyoncé[碧昂丝])、地点(如Paris[巴黎])、公司或机构(The New York Times[纽约时报])或物(Golden Gate Bridge[金门大桥])的名称。

Ms. Stamper said it is a common mistake to universally apply capitalization to words such as “earth” and “moon.”

斯坦帕说,将首字母大写扩及“地球”和“月亮”等词语是常见的错误。

Personal titles should be lowercase, except before someone’s name, she said. The prime minister of Canada vs. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

她说,个人的头衔应该是小写,用在人名之前的头衔应该大写,参见这两种用法:The prime minister of Canada(加拿大总理),或Prime Minister Justin Trudeau(贾斯汀·特鲁多总理)。

O.K., but really: Is it kosher to capitalize for emphasis?

好吧,但是说真的:用首字母大写来表示强调合规吗?

It depends, said Bryan A. Garner, a grammarian who is the author of “Garner’s Modern English Usage.”

这要看情况,《加尔纳现代英语用法》(Garner’s Modern English Usage)一书作者布莱恩·加尔纳(Bryan A. Garner)说。

Some acclaimed writers, such as David Foster Wallace, have used capitalization for emphasis in a way that many consider literary, he said. But, he said, the rules are there for a reason — and you have to know them in order to break them.

他说,一些著名作家,比如大卫·福斯特·华莱士(David Foster Wallace),曾经使用大写字母进行强调,许多人都觉得这种手法是文学性的。但是,他说,规则的存在是有原因的——你必须了解规则,才能打破规则。

“If you want to come across as a literate writer, you should adhere to those standards,” he said. “But if you don’t care about how you look to others, then you just capitalize according to your own feelings.”

“如果你想成为一个有文化修养的写作者,就应该遵守这些标准,”他说。“但是,如果你不关心别人怎么看你,那么你就可以根据自己的感受来使用首字母大写。”

So if not capitalization, then what?

那么如果不用首字母大写,该用什么来表示强调呢?

Use italics, Mr. Garner said. If you are tweeting or texting, he said, you can use asterisks on either side of the word for *emphasis*.

加尔纳说,应该使用斜体。他还说,如果是发推文或者发短信,可以在单词的任意一侧使用星号来表示*强调*。

Should I capitalize every word in a sentence?

我应该把句子里的每个单词都首字母大写吗?

Only if You Want to Be Annoying.

只有当你想惹人烦的时候。

Or if You Write Headlines for a Certain Newspaper.

或者,当你为某份报纸撰写新闻标题的时候。

And in that case, Mr. Garner said, some words should still remain lowercase, including: articles (a, an, the); conjunctions (and, or, but) and prepositions with fewer than four letters (of, by, to, for).

在后一种情况下,加尔纳说,有些词仍应保持小写,包括:冠词(a、an、the);连词(and、or、but)和少于四个字母的介词(of、by、to、for)。

Should I capitalize the ‘g’ in God?

“God”(上帝、神)应该首字母大写吗?

Don’t get Twitter started on this one.

这事放到Twitter上又是一场恶战。

Personal religious views aside, experts say it depends on which kind of god you are referring to.

除了个人宗教观点因素,专家说,这取决于你指的是哪种神。

“It used to be when I was a kid that yes, anytime you use the word ‘God’ you capitalized it,” Ms. Stamper said. “Now it tends to be only if you are referring to the Abrahamic God.”

“我小时候,任何时候,只要使用‘God’这个词,就必须首字母大写,”斯坦帕说。“现在,只有当你指的是亚伯拉罕诸教的神时才应该首字母大写。”

Am I a grammar expert now?

那么我现在算是语法专家了吗?

If you made it this far, you get an A for effort.

如果你能看到这里,你的努力可以得A了。

But Mr. Trump’s tweet had grammar geeks abuzz about more than just capitalization. “Everybody is picking up on the dangling modifier and the incorrect ‘pour,’” Ms. Stamper said.

但是,特朗普的推文让痴迷语法的人们议论纷纷的不仅仅是大写问题。“大家都在对那个悬垂修饰语和那个错误的‘pour’指指点点,”斯坦帕说。

“But,” she acknowledged, “we are all next-level nerds.”

“但是,”她承认,“我们都是属于另一个级别的书呆子。”

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