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Comment: The decline of the capital letter is part of the feminisation of the workplace.

Isee another organisation has decided to re-name itself. Edge and Ellison - or was that Edge & Ellison? - has now become edge ellison.

Rather like the firm of accountants formerly known as Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand who have now re-branded themselves PricewaterhouseCoopers (one word, two capital letters but none on the second of the three proper names).

Capital letters are in decline everywhere. Consider the exhibition centre known as the nec or the arts centre called the mac. The death of capitalism is the result partly of the widespread use of the Internet.

As you will know if you are reduced to using the Internet, the use of capital letters, punctuation marks other than dots (formerly known as full stops) or separate words, let alone complete, sensible sentences, is more or less banned.

This seems to have sparked a trend among the semi-literate to abolish the whole idea of good grammar, punctuation marks that actually help the reader understand what on earth is being said, and, naturally, capital letters. There are times when CAPITAL LE TTERS ARE OK. For instance, on those increasingly rare occasions when one is reduced to writing by hand.

This skill is so rarely practised these days that many people have to use CAPITAL LETTERS because they are well aware that any alternative renders their scrawl indecipherable. Capitals are also used FOR EMPHASIS along with EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!! because w ithout them, it seems to be impossible for some people to construct a sentence that stresses the right points.

There is another objection to capital letters, apart from the TRENDY, Internet-friendly, forward-looking image it projects (I'm surprised New Labour doesn't call itself newlabor).

In these politically-correct times, there are doubtless those who regard capital letters as too masculine, too forceful, too imperialistic and generally far too judgmental for modern alnclusive communication media.

The decline of the capital letter is, indeed, part of the feminisation of the workplace and is of a piece with councils that cancel Christmas and put "winterval" in its place.

The capital letter, after all, SHOUTS AT YOU. It speaks of confidence, sure of its place in the lexicon and positive of its right to be HEARD.

It is in every sense a capitalist construction, LOUD and PROUD and totally out of place in a world where we respect everyone's rights to be what they are whether that is the result of genes or up-bringing.

to get on these days, to succeed, we must feminise ourselves. we must become snuggly and warm even if our ambitions are as MONEY-GRUBBING and COMPETITIVE as ever.

image is what matters, not reality. and the capital letter is an out-moded concept from the discredited days of cool britannia's empire.

as mr tory blur proceeds to install an internet link on every desk in every classroom in the land, so the use of the capital letter, not to mention handwriting, simple sentences and punctuation marks, will decline further.

assuming the kids can be kept from calling up porn at every opportunity, they will learn a new method of communication which abandons most of the rules which have served us more or less adequately for most of the millennium.

(purely in the interests of research for this column, I wondered how long it would take me from a standing start to log on to the internet and call up some porn. two minutes is the answer and I didn't even know the name of an appropriate web site).

Why should we call Price, Waterhouse, Coopers by their abominable adoptive name? Why should we abandon the rules of grammar just to accommodate a firm of solicitors like Edge Ellison?

The answer is that they are at the cutting edge of deconstructing the language, turning us all into computer-literate illiterates and dumbing us all down. And if that's good enough for rich lawyers and rich accountants, it must be good enough for the res t of us. After all, meek, lower-case accountants and lawyers have inherited the EARTH.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 12, 1998
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