1

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 (I'd say) 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.)


PS. Please do not edit italics in to this question, as italics makes it a little hard to follow apostrophes perfectly, thanks.


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

  • 1
    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. – Peter Shor Aug 1 '14 at 11:05
  • Australia sometimes gets abbreviated from the front and it's normally written as Stralia or 'Stralia. – Frank Aug 1 '14 at 11:17
  • Hi Peter, 'I believe we still capitalize contractions at the beginning of sentences' Yes, I suppose that's an interesting FYI on the topic, thanks. 'So you're looking for a circa-1850 example of a contraction of a proper noun' -- well now: I DO NOT KNOW all the reasons things were capitalised in 1850. (For all I know, maybe proper nouns were not capitalised then - or maybe the proper noun concept did not even exist.) There appear to have been different rules in play regarding capitalisation then. So, given that a word was in 1850 capitalised - thence, my question. – Fattie Aug 1 '14 at 11:17
  • Hi Frank, thanks for that FYI. So, I"m looking for examples from 1850! Heh ... {Purely fwiw I see large numbers of stralia, Stralia, 'stralia, 'Stralia, STRALIA, 'STRALIA, just google.} – Fattie Aug 1 '14 at 11:18
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    Also 'Merica. – Peter Shor Aug 1 '14 at 11:35
2

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.

  • 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 Aug 1 '14 at 15:01
  • @JoeBlow Yes. That's the only one that came to mind. – StoneyB Aug 1 '14 at 17:50

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