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5 Capitalization

5.13 People and languages

Adjectives and nouns denoting place, language, or indigenous people are capitalized:

American

Austrian

French

Catalan

Cornish

Swahili

Aboriginal

Related verbs tend to retain the capital (Americanize, Frenchify, Hellenize), but note that anglicize and westernize are usually lower case.

As a very general rule, adjectives based on nationality tend to be capitalized where they are closely linked with the nationality or proper noun, and lower case where the association is remote or merely allusive. For example:

Brussels sprouts

German measles

Irish setter

Turkish delight

Shetland pony

Michaelmas daisy

Afghan hound

Venetian red

Portuguese man-of-war

but

venetian blinds

morocco leather

italic script

However, there are many exceptions, such as Arabic numbers, Chinese whispers, Dutch auction, French kissing, and Roman numerals, and any doubtful instances need to be checked in a dictionary. Caesarean (section) can take either an initial capital or (more commonly in medical texts) lower case.

Note that in many European languages adjectives of nationality are lower case: the English word ‘French’ translates as français in French and französisch in German. See Chapter 12.

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