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Borrowed Words & Phrases: English

VirileVagabond

Member
Posts: 5295

VirileVagabond @ 2020-04-13 20:39:28 UTC

In case someone doesn't know, it is my understanding that English has twice as many words than the next language. This is likely due to many factors, including its willingness to incorporate foreign words and phrases into the lexicon. Since we are all currently living during the Pax Britannia/Americana era of history, English is the de facto lingua franca of the internet and I suspect that the majority of entries on site are in English.


The adoption of foreign words and phrases has resulted in some inconsistent capitalization on site. For instance: Mamma mia


Here we have an Italian phrase that was adapted into English and found its way as the title of an English song by a Swedish artist. As I currently view this page:

a) The work is styled "Mamma mia";

b) The original performance styled "Mamma Mia"; and

c) Numerous English, Foreign and instrumental covers are styled either way.


For SHS, it's my understanding that work, performance and release titles are all subject to site capitalization rules regardless of original styling; however, this page is all over the place.


It's also my understanding that there has been a long history of how to capitalize non-English titles of English works. For what it's worth, my view is that the cap rule should be that applied for the primary language of the work/performance. Sorry, but "Livin' la vida loca" just looks silly.


Anyway, post made in lieu of an error report....

sebcat

Managing Editor
Posts: 5930

sebcat @ 2020-04-13 21:01:14 UTC

Yup, discussed at length previously and guidelines published a couple of years ago.

VirileVagabond

Member
Posts: 5295

VirileVagabond @ 2020-04-13 21:37:02 UTC

Yup, discussed at length previously and guidelines published a couple of years ago.


Well, I can't read the guidelines (at least not by that link). Nevertheless, if the guidelines dictate non-English cap rules for titles in these situations, then they were surely drafted by non-native speakers. Is there a difference between American and Queens here?


Moreover, how do the guidelines account for the mess I see under "Mamma Mia"?


BTW, I should have stated that this thread is in lieu of a whole string of error reports, so don't tempt me.... Smile

David King

Editor
Posts: 1243

David King @ 2020-04-14 15:02:59 UTC

For reference:

Apply the capitalization of the language the title is in, regardless of the language of the lyrics.


Example: Bella notte is Italian for "Beautiful night". Although the lyrics are in English, the title is in Italian, so we apply the Italian capitalization rules.

VirileVagabond

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Posts: 5295

VirileVagabond @ 2020-04-14 17:21:46 UTC

For reference:

Apply the capitalization of the language the title is in, regardless of the language of the lyrics.


Example: Bella notte is Italian for "Beautiful night". Although the lyrics are in English, the title is in Italian, so we apply the Italian capitalization rules.


Apparently Management is struggling with the concept of one language borrowing/adopting a word from another language. That borrowed/adopted word is now "in" both languages.


"Mamma mia" is in at least one major English dictionary:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Mamma%20mia


"Bella notte" wasn't readily found in an online English dictionary, but I would argue that there is usually a lag time from actual adoption to "legal" adoption.


Merriam has "gigolo" with French origins, yet SHS has:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gigolo

Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo (German)

Dumme Gigolo (Danish)

Just a Gigolo (English)

Kaunis gigolo (Finnish)

C'est mon gigolo (French)


"Loco" has long been adopted into American English and is also in Merriam:

https://secondhandsongs.com/topic/75629/reply?quote=198283

... yet SHS Livin' la vida loca (just a derivative)


Either there are boo coos of capitalization guideline violations on SHS or that guideline is unworkable. For my notes, I simply cap the first letter of each word (with some exceptions for non-English contractions) for all languages; however, I can see why SHS wouldn't want to go that uniform. On the other hand, the current cap guideline is madness.


Applying the current guideline, which of the "rendezvous", "gigolo" and "mamma mia" works/performances need an error report?


The byzantine capitalization rules are one of reasons (though not a primary reason) I will likely never agree to become an editor.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Byzantine

David King

Editor
Posts: 1243

David King @ 2020-04-14 18:49:41 UTC

I wonder if some of those entries stem from a time when the current guidelines were not in place. It can be a lot of work to go through your previous work to change things to follow current guidelines.

VirileVagabond

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Posts: 5295

VirileVagabond @ 2020-04-14 18:58:45 UTC

I wonder if some of those entries stem from a time when the current guidelines were not in place. It can be a lot of work to go through your previous work to change things to follow current guidelines.


One needs to think proactively about rules and guidelines and consider the effects on predictable situations and future changes. "Mamma mia" is now an official English phrase. "Bella notte" may become one, so why not apply a guideline that anticipates outcomes so future SHS revisions are not triggered. A one size that does fit all allows editors to concentrate on far more material matters....

David King

Editor
Posts: 1243

David King @ 2020-04-14 19:05:24 UTC

This situation is so complicated, I'd just as soon follow the Discogs rule, and capitalize everything. Mathieu could even automate the revisions.


Edi: VV, you are correct about English having twice as many words. Partly due to the Norman invasion, and professors' penchant for importing Latin and Greek words to explain new concepts, rather than the German practice of compounding native words.

VirileVagabond

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Posts: 5295

VirileVagabond @ 2020-04-14 19:16:50 UTC

This situation is so complicated, I'd just as soon follow the Discogs rule, and capitalize everything. Mathieu could even automate the revisions.


Edi: VV, you are correct about English having twice as many words. Partly due to the Norman invasion, and professors' penchant for importing Latin and Greek words to explain new concepts, rather than the German practice of compounding native words.


The twice as many isn't just a function of the combination of Celtic, Low German, Latin and Norman French, but also 200 years of an Anglo-centric world culture. Moreover, Anglo cultures see language as a flexible tool for function rather than (e.g.) French which is considered part of the culture to be preserved. (The French actively work against borrowing words and phrases.)


Anyway, unless I get some authoritative answer as to why some "non-English" words are capped and others not, I am very tempted to rain error reports. Some onsite activity would be welcome as I catch up on my listening queue.... Smile

David King

Editor
Posts: 1243

David King @ 2020-04-14 21:06:33 UTC

BTW, English is the only top 10 language with no academy.

I don't care about the error reports, as long as you don't send any my way. Grin

VirileVagabond

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Posts: 5295

VirileVagabond @ 2020-04-14 21:11:26 UTC

BTW, English is the only top 10 language with no academy.

I don't care about the error reports, as long as you don't send any my way. Grin


Spanish has an academy? Interesting, as I've always concluded that since it has been seen more as a tool rather than culture itself, Spanish surpassed French in number of speakers (among other reasons).


Hell hath no fury like a contributor scorned!

VirileVagabond

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Posts: 5295

VirileVagabond @ 2020-04-16 17:51:36 UTC

Update: After two test run error reports, some editor took on the tedious task of cleaning up the caps under Mamma mia (though some look to still linger). I take this to mean that the cap rule applies from the originating language regardless of if and how long a word has been borrowed/adopted from another language.


This brings us to the other examples I used above: "Rendezvous" and "Gigolo", both apparently of French origin (i.e. low caps). More test error reports seem to be advisable.


For my notes I will continue to cap the first letter of each word; however, for SHS my current personal position on this:

a) Borrowed words/phrases are now English words/phrases and should be capped as such on site;

b) Determine whether a word has been "officially" borrowed if it appears in at least one of an agreed upon list of online dictionaries; and

c) Words/phrases not "officially" borrowed would follow the current SHS cap rules.


That proposed rule seems to be a good compromise between the opposing positions on this question....




Just came across a relatively common situation of the reverse from the examples above, namely an English title of a non-English song: P.S. I Love You

Assuming "P.S. I love you" is an English phrase that has not been adopted into Italian, it certainly makes sense to keep the English cap conventions. If it has been adopted? I'm more sold than ever on my rule proposal....

Last edit: 2020-04-16 21:42:07 UTC by VirileVagabond

baggish

Editor
Posts: 3633

baggish @ 2020-04-20 22:59:00 UTC

What do you want us to do, look up the origins of every single word in every single title in a dictionary and capitalise them accordingly? Many if not most words in the English language have their origins in other languages e.g. restaurant, verandah, juggernaut, puerile. What milestone does a word have to pass to become capitalised i.e. fully English and not just borrowed?

Rendezvous and Gigolo are in dictionaries as words in the English language and so should be capitialised. Mamma mia and bella notte are not (in my dictionary at least), and are phrases not words. Any inconsistencies in Mamma mia were down to entries being added before the guideline existed.

______
Really wild, General!

VirileVagabond

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Posts: 5295

VirileVagabond @ 2020-04-20 23:32:22 UTC

What do you want us to do, look up the origins of every single word in every single title in a dictionary and capitalise them accordingly? Many if not most words in the English language have their origins in other languages e.g. restaurant, verandah, juggernaut, puerile. What milestone does a word have to pass to become capitalised i.e. fully English and not just borrowed?

Rendezvous and Gigolo are in dictionaries as words in the English language and so should be capitialised. Mamma mia and bella notte are not (in my dictionary at least), and are phrases not words. Any inconsistencies in Mamma mia were down to entries being added before the guideline existed.


I provided a link indicating that "mamma mia" is in at least one major online dictionary.


No, one would look up only something questionable. For instance "loco" is now in Websters:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loco


The rule as I read it doesn't differentiate between words and phrases. "Borrowed" appears to be the technically correct term in this context based on my reading on Wiki, but I prefer "adopted".


Phrases can be adopted in full. The current example of "rendezvous" is one, as it looks to be an original French two word phrase. Another "tête-à-tête" (which I consider a phrase):

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/t%C3%AAte-%C3%A0-t%C3%AAte

Not all that uncommon for diplomatic terms.


My proposal would simply revise the guideline to clarify that a word or phrase that has been officially borrowed/adopted into English (as determined by its inclusion in a major online dictionary) would follow the English cap rules, and I suppose the reverse.


Brainstormed for something else and found "bubkes", originally Yiddish:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bubkes

Are there Yiddish phrases that have been adopted by use into English?


(On a related note, ending an English song title with a small cap word (e.g. "on") reads bad as well....)

sebcat

Managing Editor
Posts: 5930

sebcat @ 2020-05-03 12:52:19 UTC

Rendezvous and Gigolo are in dictionaries as words in the English language and so should be capitialised. Mamma mia and bella notte are not (in my dictionary at least), and are phrases not words. Any inconsistencies in Mamma mia were down to entries being added before the guideline existed.

I'd agree with this. Do any editors think the opposite?

VirileVagabond

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Posts: 5295

VirileVagabond @ 2020-05-03 12:59:54 UTC

Rendezvous and Gigolo are in dictionaries as words in the English language and so should be capitialised. Mamma mia and bella notte are not (in my dictionary at least), and are phrases not words. Any inconsistencies in Mamma mia were down to entries being added before the guideline existed.

I'd agree with this. Do any editors think the opposite?


a) A phrase can be adopted; and

b) "My dictionary" isn't determinative. I've suggested an SHS official list of online dictionaries. If any questionable word or phrase is found in one, the cap rules for that language controls.