U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: the grammar of photographic writers

Re: the grammar of photographic writers

From: Richard Knoppow <dickburk@ix.netcom.com>
Subject: Re: the grammar of photographic writers
Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2007 13:54:58 -0700

>      I think this may be a modern change. I was taught to
>      capitalize the names of both elements and compounds but
>      some practice seems to be not to capitalize the
>      compound names, as in Sodium carbonate.  If current
>      practice in chemistry is not to capitalize chemical
>      names that are not trade names I will follow this in
>      the future, its a lot less trouble:-)

I don't know of any current authors of chemistry who
capitalizes names of an element or compound. I also don't know
of those from the past, but to be sure(er) I looked at several
authors from 1920s (primarily because I have more specimens
from this era that I've seen in the original volume/printing
rather than reprints, etc.)

Except for in quotations from German language, and specific
uses in the index, label, headline, or tabulated formula, I
see no sign of a practice to capitalize elements or
compounds. That is, in the middle of English sentences, I see
no evidence suggesting that capitalizing those was a common
practice in 1920s.

I have seen non-chemist authors who capitalized elements and
compounds from all eras, but examples are very sporadic and 
I see no suggestion that it was a common practice.

Incidentally, my Chicago Manual is about 14 years old (14th
ed) but it has the following:


Generic names of pharmaceuticals should be used so far as
possible and given lowercase treatment. Proprietary names
(trade names or brands), if used at all, should be capitalized
and enclosed within parentheses after the first use of the
generic term.


Names of chemical elements and compounds are lowercased when
written out; the chemical symbols, however, are capitalized
and set without periods.

Ryuji Suzuki
"I can't believe I'm here.
People always say that I'm a long way from normal."
(Bob Dylan, Normal, Illinois, 13 February 1999)