Monday, September 18, 2006

CNN Cluelessness 
Wow. Unbelieveable. Look at the headline: The Soldier who Led the Marine Squad at Hadithah.

Time Magazine's editors seem to have a problem capitalizing "the Corps," when used as a proper noun to refer to the United States Marine Corps.

How long have we been at war, now, CNN?

Would it kill you to have someone there who knows what a f***ing Marine is?

Splash, out


I read an article a year or so ago by an experience journalist who had submitted her first book to her publisher's editor. She was amazed, and not a little annoyed, but the changes the editor made from what she considered good grammar to bad grammar. Capitalization was one of the big areas. Republican and Democrat became republican and democrat, even in a phrase like republican national committee.

So consider the possibility it's a effete, inside-the-industry style convention and not just incompetence.

I do agree with your basic position that the NYT does so badly on the basic facts of the American (or should that be american) military that it's hard to believe on the facts of the big picture.
It is not an effete industry convention. The industry convention is to capitalize "Corps" when used - as it is here - as an abbreviated reference to the USMC.

Indeed, it's in the AP Stylebook I have sitting in front of me, on page 60. I have Wall Street Journal style guide at home I'll have to look at, but dollars to donuts it says the same thing.

Failing to capitalize "Corps" in this context, used as a proper noun, is simply wrong. It's bad English, any way you cut it.
It's bad English not to capitalize Corps in the once sentence. But what's worse (because it was repeated throughout the article) is that they capitalized marine, which in standard English is only capitalized when part of someone's title or the name of the organization.

English is not German. All nouns aren't proper nouns, and we don't capitalize words because some people want to show a grandiloquent "respect." If you "respect" marines, the best way to show it is to not send them into wars fought to provide a security perimeter for Israel.
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