SHOUTING; emphasis?

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Sun Sep 8 20:13:47 UTC 2002

I realize of course that M is a referring to an "appropriateness" convention
that many people adhere to; he was no doubt doing so for the instruction of
the seemingly naive author of the previous e-mail. Still, his message seems
more patronizing PREscriptive admonition than purely DEscriptive advice. It
is clear from context that the writer was not "shouting" (whatever that means
in a written medium)--he or she was typing all caps (for whatever reason). So
to say, "Please don't shout!" is a peculiar utterance when the speaker was of
course not REALLY shouting at all. It has always seemed to me more than a
little weird to describe utterances printed in caps as "shouting," since
"shouting" is by definition aural and e-mail is visual. (My e-mail reader
does not speak caps any more loudly than it does lower-case utterances.) The
idea that caps = "shouting" is something that somebody made up within the
last dozen years, right? And isn't it a "rule" that is somewhat fading from
the scene?

Nor is the convention all that simple. In my experience, some people use all
caps when they are interspersing their own responses with the material from
previous e-mails that they are responding to. Makes it easier to pick out.
*I* also prefer to use caps, rather than asterisks, for emphasis (except, for
obvious reasons, for the first person singular nominative pronoun) and for
words cited as words, if only because the use of caps in non-email writing is
common (and among linguists, * is reserved for reconstructed forms and
impossible utterances).

By the way, headlines (at least in newspapers) are generally ulc, rarely

In a message dated 9/8/2002 7:50:45 AM, mam at THEWORLD.COM writes:

<< Please don't SHOUT. Try to avoid using uppercase text, except of course
where the case is intrinsic, as when quoting a headline that's all
uppercase. For your own message, normal casing is appropriate.
Uppercase, like THIS, is only for emphasis, and many people -- most on
this list, I think -- prefer to emphasize like *this* or like _this_.

-- Mark A. Mandel >>

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