English word capitalisation

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This topic is not about Title Style but about general English style.
In French, the only letters that are capitalised are the first letter of a sentence and the first letter of each proper nouns (person name, place name, etc.).

In English, I was told long time ago by @nikki that month names (January, December) and language names (French, English) were to get a capitalised first letter.

I was also told (I forgot by whom) later but long time ago that music style names should be capitalised as well.

At that time, I was not really surprised because capitalising months and languages was already something not natural to me but that I got used to do for English.
So I took the habit of doing it (in extra title information for instance) for English.

But now @Cheezmo (in https://musicbrainz.org/edit/49251142), a natural English speaking person, is surprised that music style names have to be capitalised…
So maybe it’s not good!

Does someone know a list of words that should be capitalised in English?

  • Sentence first word
  • Proper nouns
  • Months
  • Languages
  • Styles?

https://wiki.musicbrainz.org/Style/Language/English does not say it yet. :slight_smile:


I wouldn’t capitalise genres either. All the other things you mention yes, genres no.


Agreed. English does not normally capitalize genres or styles such as ‘rock’, ‘classical’, ‘metal’ etc.


rock, jazz, hip hop, soul, Northern Soul, blues, zydeco, metal, death metal, World Music, pop, indie, funk, country, high life, kwela.

Rock, Jazz, Hip Hop, Soul, Northern Soul, Blues, Zydeco, Metal, World Music, Pop, Indie, Funk, Country, High Life, Kwela.

I’d say in Engish that many style names can be lower case but some are better capitalised.

And none of them are wrong capitalised.

Though many look better non-capitalised.

(Shall we also discuss the important differences between Style, Genre and Form?
Just start another thread. Please. Please? :japanese_ogre: )

(Test example: I like world music and northern soul.)


I should probably point out that region names (e.g. Northern and Southern, in the context of regions of the United States) are often capitalized, so “Northern soul” would probably be correct.


This says no, still looking but haven’t really found anything that says you should.


Just to be pedantic, the first two entries in your list are what is generally capitalized in English:

  • Sentence first word
  • Proper nouns

However, the names of months, days, languages, nations, compass directions and regions are all considered proper nouns.


The only examples listed here that may be capitalised are Hip Hop and (as @HibiscusKazeneko mentioned) Northern soul (with lowercase s). KRS-One makes the case that Hip Hop should be capitalised, as its shorthand for Hip Hop music—the music of Hip Hop culture.

Some other examples of cultural and regional genres (in which the proper noun is capitalised) are Afro-Cuban jazz, Berber music, and Wassoulou music, as well as Cantopop, J-pop, and K-pop. In dance music there are more examples, like Balearic beat, Chicago house, Detroit techno, Eurodance, and Italo disco. In Hi-NRG, hi is sometimes capitalised, since that’s how the word was written in its early days.


Everything there is correct except for compass directions. Those normally aren’t capitalized (which is why I added the stipulation about region names earlier).


I’m not great at pedantry, but one way of thinking about this is:
If a common noun is used to provide a specific meaning in a particular context then it is effectively a proper noun. So if “Genocide” is actually a music style then G is fine, but if the common noun was meant, it should be g. As always in English, things are a bit blurry, and it’s not a good idea to get too hung up about it. So rock is in common usage as a music style as well as a large stone (not Rolling) and arguably either r or R is acceptable. If something is a title then it may be in Title Case, which does not mean to say that the same words would be capitalised in sentence case. So, waltz is a common noun with no W and the last dance of the night might be the last waltz, but as a specific song it is The Last Waltz. If the disambiguation quotes a title, then there is a good case (?) for keeping the title case.


Plus adjectives derived from geographical or linguistic nouns.

A French poem. A German philosopher. A germanic language.


Why not Germanic? Would it be Latin or latin, then?


Should’ve double-checked my post. Should indeed be Germanic, not germanic.