philena (philena) wrote in linguaphiles,

Victorian Capitalization

Can anyone explain why it is so common in English of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to capitalize what appear to be the important words of the phrase? It appears mainly to be nouns, but important adjectives are also capitalized from time to time--but not always. Is it maybe simply to stress certain words, in the way comic strips use bold and italics far more than common prose does? Could a similar desire be at work in modern signs that say such things as "Thank You and Have a Nice Day," which I always find grating? Certainly they had the ability to italicize in printing back then--that was around from the very beginning--and in handwriting one may always underline. Could the capitalization be a more mild form of emphasis, or was it stylistics?
Tags: spelling
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