Sunday, August 17, 2008

Me, Myself & I

Filed under: "I Never Thought About It From That Perspective"
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Caroline Winter asks in the NY Times,
Why do we capitalize the word “I”? There’s no grammatical reason for doing so, and oddly enough, the majuscule “I” appears only in English.

Consider other languages: some, like Hebrew, Arabic and Devanagari-Hindi, have no capitalized letters, and others, like Japanese, make it possible to drop pronouns altogether. The supposedly snobbish French leave all personal pronouns in the unassuming lowercase, and Germans respectfully capitalize the formal form of “you” and even, occasionally, the informal form of “you,” but would never capitalize “I.” Yet in English, the solitary “I” towers above “he,” “she,” “it” and the royal “we.” Even a gathering that includes God might not be addressed with a capitalized “you.”
And after pondering some possible effects, she concludes,
Still, there seems to be something to it all. Modern e-mail culture has shown that many English speakers feel perfectly comfortable dismissing all uses of capitalization — and even correct spelling, for that matter. But take this a step further: i suggest that You try, as an experiment, to capitalize those whom You address while leaving yourselves in the lowercase. It may be a humbling experience. It was for me.
Interesting read.
[HT]

1 comment:

Pedro Jimenez said...

We don´t have that problem in Spanish, but i will keep that in mind when the moment comes to write in English.

God bless You!