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Grammar Central > Help: North Pole and Artic regions--capitalization

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message 1: by Melinda (new)

Melinda Brasher | 30 comments Hi all. I'm editing a research paper, and have confused myself looking for the answers to some tricky capitalization questions. I know most style guides say that the North Pole is capitalized when referring to Earth's north pole. But...is it capitalized as an adjective?

Example: "He undertook an expedition to the north polar region."

I believe is should be "to the North Polar region" because it's referring to THE North Pole, not a cold, polar region that's north of something else.

Can anyone confirm or deny?

"Arctic" is giving me the same problems. I believe it should be capitalized as an adjective when referring to the actual Arctic, not just a region with an arctic climate. Example:

"The future of Artic aviation lay not with airplanes."
This is talking about flights to the actual Artic and the North Pole, not just cold places. Is it right to capitalize?

Thanks so much for your help.


message 2: by Melinda (new)

Melinda Brasher | 30 comments And here's another puzzle: do you capitalize navy, army, etc. when referring to the US Army, the US Navy, etc., but when standing alone?

"He asked the Navy for help in funding his expedition."
OR
"He asked the navy for help in funding his expedition."

I've found sources that support both. Anyone know about MLA?


message 3: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18313 comments Mod
The NY TIMES STYLE MANUAL says yes to capitalizing Navy as a standalone -- if it refers to the US Navy.

Bryan Garner frowns upon 2-word proper nouns being used as adjectives, but the rule is yes to capitalization for one-word proper adjectives, so grudgingly yes to that.

All this without checking MLA, though, so not written in stone.


message 4: by Mollie (new)

Mollie | 3 comments When writing about the South Pole, a friend editing my work said the South Pole was simply a location on Antarctica and therefore, the wrong term. So, I was guilty of an error that correct capitalization could not remedy.


message 5: by Doug (new)

Doug | 2340 comments New England States or new England states? Why capitalize England if it does not refer to any actual entity but another geographical area?
And if preceeded by "the" or is it "The" as The U S Navy, The South Pole or The State of New York? How about the Pentagon, The Queen of England, or the duke, John Wayne. Is it Him, his Holyness or him, His holiness. Are the Hawiian islands just islands or Islands? I am confused too.


message 6: by Melinda (new)

Melinda Brasher | 30 comments Good to know I'm not the only one. The Carpathian mountains, the Carpathian Mountains? The Carpathian mountain range?


message 7: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18313 comments Mod
"When a common noun is part of a proper name, capitalize it when the entire name appears (Mississippi River), but not when it is separated from the proper name (the Mississippi and Missouri rivers)."

Or so says Bryan Garner. So it would be the Carpathian Mountains, in that case.


message 8: by Melinda (new)

Melinda Brasher | 30 comments That's what some sources say, and it feels right to me. But National Geographic says you shouldn't capitalize "mountain" unless it's part of the official name, like the Rocky Mountains. So, according to them, it appears that "Carpathian mountains" is right. But it looks wrong. And Carpathian Mountain Range is never right, though it still seems like a proper name to me. And the Vltava River, but the Vltava river valley? Argh.


message 9: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18313 comments Mod
See, I thought "Carpathian" was part of the "official name" of those mountains, no? Thus, Carpathian Mountains.


message 10: by Melinda (new)

Melinda Brasher | 30 comments "Carpathian" is part of the official name, but I don't think "Mountain" really is. But who's to know.


message 11: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18313 comments Mod
Maybe we can count on Dracula?


message 12: by Doug (new)

Doug | 2340 comments Thanks, That's helpful. I hope to visit New England soon even though it has no boundary and thus would not be capitalized it has a clear geographical culture.


message 13: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 15767 comments Mod
Doug wrote: "Thanks, That's helpful. I hope to visit New England soon even though it has no boundary and thus would not be capitalized it has a clear geographical culture."

But it is capitalized. As my Italian teacher once said when someone complained about something illogical in the language, "It is what it is."


message 14: by Mollie (new)

Mollie | 3 comments Ah, but if you traveled to England....


message 15: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18313 comments Mod
... they would not capitalize New England?


message 16: by Doug (new)

Doug | 2340 comments I thought I was saying, YES, it would be capitalized because it is a geographical area defined by a specific local culture even if and though not by any government. Like, "middle of the plains" or the "upper coast" or "central state" is not capitalized because there is nothing specific about the people or their individual culture.


message 17: by Mollie (new)

Mollie | 3 comments It is fascinating that what appears to be a simple act...capitalization...is a link to a bigger picture. To recognizing what one is actually talking about rather than just skimming along on the surface.


message 18: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 15767 comments Mod
There's an interesting article about copy editing in the latest New Yorker.


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