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Title:Contrastive Focus Capitalization: Nonstandard Usages of Capital Letters in Web-based English and their Capital-I Implications
Author(s):Linden, Josh
Subject(s):Contrastive Focus Capitalization (CFC)
Global Web-based English (GloWbE)
written discourse
Contrastive Focus Reduplication (CFR)
Abstract:Like most languages using the Roman alphabet, English has an upper- and lowercase form of each letter and several interconnected patterns governing their use. This paper explores the ways those patterns are changing in the age of the Internet and proposes a novel usage of sentence-internal capitalization called Contrastive Focus Capitalization (CFC). CFC mainly targets nouns and conveys a number of meanings related to legitimacy and givenness as well as drawing attention to the most prototypical or salient meaning as the intended one. This phenomenon is explored via analysis of a 2.2 million-word sample of GloWbE, the Corpus of Global Web-based English, consisting mainly of blog posts made by English speakers around the world. The related but distinct practice of capitalizing common nouns as if they were proper nouns is also discussed. It is found that the latter is more common, but both are used especially in American English. Observations are made about the scope and connotations of these forms of nonstandard capitalization and parallels are drawn to other, less orthography-dependent structures with similar meanings. These findings are then considered in the broader context of Internet-based language with the goal of examining the relationship between spoken language and written language in the Digital Age.
Issue Date:2020
Publisher:Studies in the Linguistic Sciences: Illinois Working Papers
Citation Info:Studies in the Linguistic Sciences: Illinois Working Papers 43: 116-138.
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-12-01

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