Tuesday, 16 February 2016

majuscule and minusclue

A bicameral system of writing has two cases for its letters, usually distinct in form and not only size—like Latin-, Greek- and Armenian- derived alphabets, whereas Arabic, Hebrew and Persian make no differentiation.  I wonder if that makes reading a particular challenge, like the cursive-hand that is reportedly incomprehensible to young people.

Aside from æsthetic prerogatives of font and layout, mixed cases probably were cultivated for the sake of speed when copying out a running script—as opposed to headings or chapters that dominated most inscriptions, and the conventions were propagated with the printed word. Individual rules of orthography are as varied as language, where sometimes all nouns are germane or sometimes demonyms, the months and days of the week go with no special consideration and certain symbols and ligatures often only take one form, like the Eszett (ß) that’s never at the front of a word or the Latin alpha that can be single- or double-storey. If rules of capitalisation prove too complex, especially given an international venue, something called a “kebab-case” is employed where dashes replace spacing and no words are writ-large. Using underscore in a similar way is called snake-case. Not to dispense with proper punctuation altogether, words whose meaning changes with capitalisation like Mass (liturgy) or mass (physical property) and Hamlet (Danish prince) or hamlet (small village)—plus many others, especially having to do with place—is called a capitonym.