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The Cambridge Dictionary capitalises Schadenfreude but does not capitalise sauerkraut. What is the BrE rule for this (other than looking it up in a dictionary or style guide), if any?

NB: According to Grammarist.com, of which I do not know whether they are BrE or otherwise focused:

While schadenfreude is capitalized in German, it is not capitalized in English.

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, Community Jul 7 at 18:20

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  • Weird. The full OED also capitalises the entry (but it does say Also with lower-case initial). It's from German schaden harm + freude joy, so I can't see why it should be capitalised (I wouldn't myself, but I'm not bound by any particular style guide). – FumbleFingers Jul 7 at 17:42
  • ...Grammarly says You might sometimes see schadenfreude spelled with a capital S. Nouns are always spelled with a capital letter in German, but we don’t have that rule in English. You don’t have to spell it with a capital letter. – FumbleFingers Jul 7 at 17:45
  • I can't see it either. It is not a proper noun. Why the Cambridge Dictionary not only capitalizes it, but indeed capitalizes it with no explanation, is a question best directed at them. Maybe for a second they forgot how English works. And strictly speaking even in German not all nouns are always capitalized, including proper nouns. But that is completely beside the point anyway, because English is not German. – RegDwigнt Jul 7 at 17:47
  • @FumbleFingers Just checking: what does the full OED do with sauerkraut? – We oath to creation Jul 7 at 17:48
  • @Reg The CED is getting a lot of flak of late, for, as I see it, one mistake. A comparison of Wikipedia and Britannica a few years back seemed to show far higher frequencies of questionable articles/entries. Isn't it possible that CD/CED is faithfully analysing and presenting data as it finds it? Isn't it a claim that they are descriptive in outlook? – Edwin Ashworth Jul 7 at 18:31

I don’t regard it as traditionally British. I have a Chambers and an Oxford Encyclopaedic dictionary from the 1980s and neither capitalize “schadenfreude”, although Oxford italicizes it, which from my experience is standard practice for indicating a foreign word. (My 1920 OED capitalizes all entries.)

My guess is that some smart Alec in Cambridge decided to capitalize German nouns still regarded as foreign, but not those regarded as being integrated into the language.

As an Oxford man, I would ignore it.

  • I'm sad that an Oxford man offers a 'guess' on a site where answers supported by reasonable research are desired. My guess, which I don't consider substantive enough to elevate to 'answer' status, is that CED are just reporting usage. And what about the people at OED? 'The full OED also capitalises the entry (but it does say Also with lower-case initial)' (FF). Half-wits? / I'm also sad that an 'answer' is given to an obvious and signalled duplicate, where the duplicate has an answer it would be hard to better. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 7 at 18:37
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    @EdwinAshworth Sad that you’re sad. Also that you do not understand how a final close vote can be cast while someone is composing an answer. But then many of the high reputation members of this site don’t often go to the trouble of answering questions, do they? They hide behind comments. – David Jul 7 at 18:44
  • Or perhaps they're busy searching through 100 000+ questions trying to find the duplicate-or-is-it? on the edge of their memory. Or trying to answer (not in the 'ELU answer' sense) a query that shouldn't really be posted on a site aimed at non-learners for the reasons made plain in the Help Center and in standard close-vote reasons. / I suggest you compare the accepted answer in the original thread with yours. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 7 at 18:56
  • @EdwinAshworth — If your criticism of my answer was for answering, you should have said so, rather than retailing nonsense about duplicates. Spare me your suggestions. Just vote my answer down and have done with it. – David Jul 7 at 19:27
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    I hope I'm not "hiding" behind comments here. I genuinely did think this was an interesting question, so I upvoted it while commenting with details about the full OED entry (which I thought was also "interesting" background info for those who can't access it directly, though it doesn't actually resolve anything). @Edwin - well found with that earlier duplicate! It really does have one of those "beyond reproach" Answers that are so few and far between here on ELU. – FumbleFingers Jul 8 at 12:36

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