bill (notyourbroom) wrote in linguaphiles,

Styles in the writing of titles

This is a vague/underdeveloped question, but...

in English, at least, it's undeniable that there are at least a handful of major "templates" which writers often follow in titling their works. Many works have unique or unusual titles, but just as many fall into common molds.

For example, as far as academic writing goes, papers in the humanities are often given a "title: subtitle" combo, in which the title is at least semi-creative and memorable, while the subtitle is a more literal rendering of the contents of the work. (as far as the title-subtitle combo goes, an older style I've noticed in creative works interposed an "OR:" between the titles, whereas I recently saw an instance in which "A.K.A.:" separated a title from a subtitle in a column of my school newspaper.) In the sciences, on the other hand, a title might be very utilitarian, in a format no more complicated than "The effect of [variable] on [phenomenon]."

As another vague jab, I have to imagine that Crime and Punishment, War and Peace, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and others novels of that era weren't all given "[noun] and [noun]" names entirely by coincidence-- I know virtually nothing of 19th-century literature, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a trend of similarly-arranged titles if I looked further into it.

So I guess my question is, have any of you come across any studies into the history of titling styles, tracking the development of these and other memes?

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