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Q: religious pronouns ( No Answer,   8 Comments )
Subject: religious pronouns
Category: Relationships and Society
Asked by: divi1-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 24 Mar 2006 18:42 PST
Expires: 23 Apr 2006 19:42 PDT
Question ID: 711658
why and when did we stop using capitol letters for pronouns referring to God?

Request for Question Clarification by scriptor-ga on 24 Mar 2006 18:48 PST
Who is "we" in the context of your question?

Clarification of Question by divi1-ga on 27 Mar 2006 15:53 PST
By "we" I mean the written English language. Old books had these
pronouns capitalized. At some time, they just disappeared.
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: religious pronouns
From: geof-ga on 25 Mar 2006 12:33 PST
All grammatical rules seem to have gone by the board these days -
after all, you haven't even started your question with a capital
letter. That said, is there a actual rule about using capitals for the
pronouns for God? I would have thought that it was just a matter of
custom and practice. A believer might well wish to do so; but an
atheist or agonostic might not bother, and might even write "god" with
a small g.
Subject: Re: religious pronouns
From: bozo99-ga on 26 Mar 2006 05:00 PST
The question was about PRONOUNS which means "he", "him" etc.

Now the King James of 1611 does not use capitals but some moderen translations do.
The question might be better expressed as when did people start using
capitalised pronouns.

And if you are going to capitalise you have to decie which pronouns to
do it to - not as easy as you might think.
Subject: Re: religious pronouns
From: geof-ga on 26 Mar 2006 06:17 PST
I know bozo99 will probably not see this, but if (s)he does, and reads
my comment above a little more carefully, (s)he will see that I was
quite aware that the question was about PRONOUNS, amd that my second
and third sentences referred precisely to that. However, I am grateful
to bozo99 for pointing out that the King James version of the Bible
does not use capitals for the pronouns (though God himself does
receive one); and agree that the question then arises as to when the
practice began.
Subject: Re: religious pronouns
From: answerfinder-ga on 26 Mar 2006 08:49 PST
William Tyndale's New Testament, 1526, God is in lower case.

Shakespeare?s Henry V has,
?God quit you in his mercy. Heare your fentence.?
Henry V; 1st quarto 1600;

This original document from the proceedings of the Old-Bailey of 1674
has God with a capital letter, but there are also several other words
with capital letters.

By 1834 the number has been greatly reduced.
Subject: Re: religious pronouns
From: ansel001-ga on 26 Mar 2006 15:17 PST
Another question is, why do we capitalize "I"?
Subject: Re: religious pronouns
From: myoarin-ga on 27 Mar 2006 03:08 PST
Here are some discussions of capitalization, though nothing directed
at the question:

The second one rambles a bit, but the talk of usage in the 17th
century let me wonder if capitalizing pronouns referring to God might
have come in during that period, perhaps under the influence of
religious leaders to help laymen reading  religious texts (a fairly
new situation) to read with appropriate emphasis.  Baroque preachers
probably spoke the pronouns as though they were capitalized.
  (much speculation),1,3467649.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

And here is what The Chicago Style Manual's FAQ says:
"Q. What is the proper pronoun form to use to refer to God? I was
taught to capitalize the pronoun ?He? when ?God? was the antecedent.
However, I checked a number of standard grammar handbooks and can?t
find any information on this point. Have the rules changed?

A. Chicago lowercases such pronouns, but it?s not wrong to uppercase,
especially if you are writing for a religious readership or anyone
else who might take lowercasing as a sign of disrespect. In matters of
style, in contrast to those of grammar, there are few right or wrong
answers. Different houses follow different style guides in order to
make their publications consistent."

As to "I", although it seems egotistical to capitalize it, I [sic]
think it may be because a lower case "i" would get lost in the text. 
Besides, being nominative case, it usually stands at the start of a
sentence anyway.
Subject: Re: religious pronouns
From: squiffyuk-ga on 05 Apr 2006 13:20 PDT
You seem to be assuming that we all know which god you're talking about. 

I suspect that the grammatical convention is that only the christian
god (and pronouns relating to him, her or it) warrant a capital
letter. As I'm an atheist myself, I wouldn't use them myself.
Subject: Re: religious pronouns
From: pedant83-ga on 11 Apr 2006 07:03 PDT
In relation to why I is capitalised, this has more to do with
historical development of the language than egocentricity. In old
english ic was used instead of I, over time this changed first to ich
(similar to german). In middle english this were written as ych or yk
and later abreviated to y or Y. On the introduction of printing this
settled down as I and the precedent was set.

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