Camel Case

What’s the deal with the second capital in MySpace, OutKast, and PowerPoint?

Mignon Fogarty,
May 12, 2011
Episode #275

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The New York Times on Camel Case

Pete also pointed me to a New York Times “On Language” column by Caleb Crain that ran back on November 23.

Indeed, Crain also points to the digital world as a driver behind the growth of camel case. Crain says “In the 1980s and ’90s, word spacing became seriously endangered, probably because, as the magazine New Scientist has noted, the most charismatic capitalists of those decades came from Silicon Valley, where software languages often required them to omit word spaces. To save their eyesight, programmers injected capitals into their compounds, and as they ascended to cultural hegemony, ‘Word’ was sealed to ‘Perfect,’ ‘Quick’ soldered to ‘Time’ and ‘Power’ married to ‘Point.’”

An Ancient Form of Camel Case

Crain goes on to report something else I found fascinating though. He writes that ancient Greek and Latin did without spaces between words in the beginning, and people had to read texts out loud to figure out what the words were supposed to be. 

When to Use Camel Case

Finally, my advice to those trying to figure out when to use camel case is if you’re writing about a company and the formal company name uses camel case, honor their spelling and write it that way. Otherwise, avoid it.

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing and The Grammar Devotional.


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