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I’m a French web developer who translated a web site in English by a non-native but experienced English speaker (has lived in the US and UK for 15 years, worked in English for 20 years). I just received his translations and I’m a bit puzzled on how he capitalized some common nouns; it seems random. Here is a few examples:

Confirmation of Registration to <...>
Your registration to <...> has been recorded.
Summary of your Personal Details
Your Personal Line
You have the possibility to edit all your Personal Details and visualise your winnings online by connecting to your personal account on our website
We collected your Participation successfuly, you will receive a email confirmation shortly.
Go to my Personal Account
The payment of your Participation failed.
Updating your Credit Card failed.
This credit card number is already used by another client.

For short sentences on labels I do understand it is a common practice, even though it is a matter of style; but for longer sentences in a text, I don't get the logic behind (if there is a logic in the first place). Is it correct? Is this something common? What are the rules then?

(Talking to him would be useless, he won't explain why and will only reply "This is how it must be done, I know better than you.".)

NB: the web site is to be translated in British English.

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  • I can think of two reasons: 1) your colleague is using a (not very consistent) form of Headline Case - the American convention of capitalizing most words (and certainly nouns) in a newspaper headline; 2) in many legal documents and especially contracts between a supplier and a purchaser, terms that are included in a glossary with a definition are often capitalized to bring attention to the fact that a particular interpretation is to be brought to them.
    – Charl E
    Apr 12 '16 at 12:23
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    The person who wrote/translated that used the convention that when the title for a line on the form/web page is mentioned that title should be capitalized, to distinguish that usage as a name of the line vs "just words". Howevers, the person did not understand the convention very well, and so capitalization has turned out pretty random and screwy.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 12 '16 at 12:23
  • Is the author's native language one which capitalises many nouns? Also, as Charl E mentions, do the capitalised terms correspond to specially-defined terms?
    – Lawrence
    Apr 12 '16 at 14:48
  • Translation into English works best when done by a native speaker of English. In some cases living there for 15 years is enough. But not in most cases.
    – GEdgar
    Apr 12 '16 at 17:52
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It seems to me that not only is the capitalisation strange, but also the language and terminology. I agree with the comments by both Charl E & Hot Licks as possibilities for these oddities, but it doesn't make the overall result correct, appropriate, nor fully intelligible.

Confirmation of Registration to <...>
Your registration to <...> has been recorded.

In BrE, "registration to" sounds strange. It's difficult to suggest an alternative without knowing what is intended to go in "<...>", but normally we would say "registration of [something]" or "registration for [something]" or just "registration".

Summary of your Personal Details
This seems OK, if there is a section containing & entitled "Personal Details".

Your Personal Line
I have no idea what this means, nor what a "Personal Line" is. One can refer to a "line of credit", but, if that is what is meant, it should say "line of credit".

You have the possibility to edit all your Personal Details
We would not use "possibility to edit", but would say "You can edit all your Personal Details ...", again assuming that there is a section containing & entitled "Personal Details".

visualise your winnings online
I don't know what this means. Maybe "see your winnings online"?

by connecting to your personal account on our website
Again, this is not idiomatic English. Maybe "by logging into your personal account".
"on our website" seems superfluous.

We collected your Participation successfuly
Not only is "collected your Participation" meaningless in BrE, I don't even understand what it is trying to say! Certainly "Participation" should not be capitalised.
The payment of your Participation failed.
Likewise, that sentence is nonsense and capitalisation is inappropriate.

you will receive a email confirmation shortly.
That is actually fine and makes sense!

Go to my Personal Account
This may mean "Login to my Personal Account" or, if already logged it, it make mean what it says: go to the page headed "Personal Account"

Updating your Credit Card failed. This credit card number is already used by another client.
I would write
"Updating of your credit card details failed. [Updating the (actual) credit card could be done only by the bank.]
"The credit card number is already registered to another client."

Hope this is of some help.

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  • Perfect analysis, and the translator has also misspelled successfully, unless it's acceptable in AmEng.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 13 '16 at 6:36
  • Welcome back! Long time no see as they say.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 13 '16 at 6:36
  • @Mari-Lou A Thanks. Trouble is, once I start looking at the forum, I can't tear myself away from it, and thinks I ought to be doing get forgotten. So I have to make a conscious effort to avoid it completely: it's all or nothing! P.S. I didn't notice the mis-spelling. Well done.
    – TrevorD
    Apr 13 '16 at 11:16
  • A two year absence is a long time, too long for this website. Anyway, glad to see you're back.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 13 '16 at 11:58
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It is called Title Casing or what is called Headline style.

First character in all words are capitalised, except for certain subsets defined by rules that are not universally standardised. The standardisation is only at the level of house styles and individual style manuals.

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