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

Re: the grammar of photographic writers

On Sun, 14 Oct 2007, Ryuji Suzuki wrote:
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.)

I've paid particular attention to names of alt-photo processes, for instance, "Albumen" (albumen), "Gum Bichromate" (gum bichromate), and so forth, having found a wide variety of practice, both in contemporary writing and history. Some sources capitalize, some don't. I decided after a little trial and experiment, that in a Post-Factory article about a particular process, it improved clarity to capitalize the process under discussion, but not others... unless the sense of the sentence seemed to call for that as well. (Which is to say, according to editorial judgment.)

At times it didn't work out, or didn't *look* right, say, in narrative disquisition (as in John Coffer's life story, where the term "wet plate" is incidental) or sometimes I just forgot, especially editing other people's copy. But generally speaking I think it was a distinct improvement -- and since "the rules" are supposedly devised to aid comprehension rather than test our docility or rote memory, I recommend the practice.

In any event, IMO the WORST bloopers are attempts to be oh so correct, as in "between you and I." I came across a howler in the NY Times today... one of those lines like a fingernail up the blackboard. I don't remember the exact words, but the construction was along the lines of:

"The choice in the matter belongs to we the readers."

The writer may think (if he thought) that "we the readers" is the subject of the phrase, as in "we the people." But "we" is in fact the object of the preposition "to" and thus takes the objective case. ("The readers" is a parenthetical extension of "we", or something like that -- the phrasing/terminology here is improvised.. sorry, but please do not say anything "belongs to we.")

"We the people" is clearly the subject of its sentence in the US Constitution. Conceivably, "the choice belongs to we the people" would fly, because through repetition & familiarity "we the people" could be considered sort of one word. I have no phrase on hand for that... It could be some kind of metaphor, along the lines of, say, "metonymy??? (Don Sweet, are you there?)