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Assume that a certain word is capitalised, for example "Microsoft."

Say (for whatever reason, perhaps slang) you were going to shorten that certain word, using an apostrophe.

Today, I'd say we would write: 'soft

(So for example: "I've worked at 'soft for years...")

We would not keep the capitalisation through the contraction. (So, I'd say, we would not write "I've worked at 'Soft for years...")

Question: what happened in 1850?

(Of course, the overall study of changes in capitalisation is a big topic; hopefully there's an expert here.)


Still very little information on this, other than one (great) example found by Stoney. Anyone??

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    I believe we still capitalize contractions at the beginning of sentences: 'Twas the night before Christmas, and .... So you're looking for a circa-1850 example of a contraction of a proper noun. Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 11:05
  • Australia sometimes gets abbreviated from the front and it's normally written as Stralia or 'Stralia.
    – Frank
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 11:17
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    Also 'Merica. Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 11:35
  • Looking in Google Books in the 19th century, it usually seems to have been abbreviated 'Merica. Here is an example. Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 11:38

1 Answer 1

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An instance of precisely this use is the common 18th- and 19th-century abbreviation by London financial traders of Exchange (referring to the Stock Exchange or the Royal Exchange) to ’Change , most often in the phrase on ’Change.

A quick troll through Google Books suggests that in the 18th century both the apostrophe and the capital were used or omitted freely with this short form; but in the 19th century both are standard, although not inevitable.

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  • Your second paragraph: "A quick troll through Google Books suggests that in the 18th century both the apostrophe and the capital were used or omitted freely" are you talking about in "'Change"?
    – Fattie
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 15:01
  • @JoeBlow Yes. That's the only one that came to mind. Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 17:50

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