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Jan 21

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Please stop capitalizing “the internet”

A mild dispute with a colleague over capitalizing “internet” led me to grammargirl.com, which explained why “internet”, as in, “I found it on the internet”, should be capitalized. Grammar Girl states:

“Most language experts including the Associated Press and the editors of the Chicago Manual of Style and the Yahoo Style Guide, believe the Internet is one big specific network that people visit, so they recommend capitalizing the word ‘internet.'”

I don’t care for her reasoning, but Grammar Girl does cite some seemingly reputable sources. So, what did I miss in grammar school? I realize the rules that constitute the English language are filled with exceptions, but does capitalizing “internet” strike anyone else as entirely inconsistent?

The internet is remarkably important. It has changed many facets of human life, including how we bank, shop, communicate, and watch movies. Without it, daily life would be radically different. But the grammar rule does not state, “Capitalize nouns that are important” or even, “Capitalize nouns that are really, really, really important.” It states, “Capitalize proper nouns.”

The ocean is a lot like the internet. It reaches across the planet. Life is not possible without it. And it should not be capitalized. Other nouns that represent really important things also remain uncapitalized: love, family, money, health, education, the forest, the planet, the ozone layer, the subway, and the television.

“Internet” should not be capitalized. Then again, perhaps the internet changed the rules of punctuation together with everything else, and capitalizing it is the perfect way of memorializing this fact.

About the author

Eric Madsen

Mr. Madsen is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder and a Manager at Fulcrum Inquiry, a finance and economics consulting firm that performs economic damages analysis involving commercial litigation, financial investigations, business valuations, and forensic accounting. He also holds an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a B.S. in Economics. He conducts expert analysis in finance and economics. Mr. Madsen may be contacted at 213.787.4122 or at emadsen@fulcrum.com.

Permanent link to this article: http://betweenthenumbers.net/2013/01/please-stop-capitalizing-the-internet/

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