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Old 05-07-2006, 03:06 AM   #1
Hanna B
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Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

In texts about budo, is pretty commons to see all words of Japanese origin capitalised. Not only Aikido but also Budo, Uke, Shite, Tori. More seldom Ukemi though. Is this a less "reverred" word than Uke?

English is not my first language. Still, when asking people about it I have never heard anyone being able to point out where in the writing rules of English it says that budo words of Japanese origin should be capitalised. I see it done in my language also, and in both cases I just see it as... strange.

Why? How do people think when they do it?
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Old 05-07-2006, 06:00 AM   #2
Amelia Smith
 
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

Hi Hanna,

I don't think it's correct to capitalize foreign words in English, if they would not be capitalized for some other reaon. Traditionally, non-English words would have been written in italics, i.e. ukemi, but as soon as the word becomes an accepted part of the English language, it should be written just like any other word. On the internet, people often use capitalization to stress a word, because it's easier than using italics or underlining, but technically that's not correct.

I should check back and see if I've fallen into the trap of Over-Capitalizing on these pages!

--Amelia
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Old 05-07-2006, 12:36 PM   #3
Don_Modesto
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

Quote:
Amelia Smith wrote:
...Traditionally, non-English words would have been written in italics, i.e. ukemi, but as soon as the word becomes an accepted part of the English language, it should be written just like any other word. On the internet, people often use capitalization to stress a word, because it's easier than using italics or underlining, but technically that's not correct.
Succinctly, she takes the words right out of my mouth. I'd just give examples like dojo, sensei, karate, UKE (I'm too lazy for the "[i]" stuff, UKEMI, KOTE GAESHI, etc.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 06-02-2006, 05:32 PM   #4
JAMJTX
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

I had this discussion with an English Professor.
The first day in class he explained how he wanted to check the students grammar and punctuation and see where the class stood.
We could write about anything so I wrote abour martial arts, capitalizing Karate, Judo, etc. I had near perfect punctuation, and pretty good grammar. But the paper had big red circles around all of my capital letters.

I explained that capitalizing was correct because they are proper nouns and should be capitalized just as you would in writing the word Christianity. He changed my grade.

Jim Mc Coy
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Old 06-02-2006, 06:46 PM   #5
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

IMO, the closer analogue to aikido is "boxing", "wrestling", "fencing", and the like, rather than "Christianity". Although I tend to use a capitalized "Aikido" when talking about organized aikido, i.e., Aikikai Aikido, Yoshinkai Aikido, etc. "He's studied aikido for 12 years", vs. "There's a lot of politics in Aikido."

But, it's a personal distinction that I don't expect anyone to pick up and start using.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 06-03-2006, 04:08 AM   #6
Hanna B
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

Quote:
Jim McCoy wrote:
I explained that capitalizing was correct because they are proper nouns and should be capitalized just as you would in writing the word Christianity. He changed my grade.
They are not proper names... no more so than boxing, fencing or football. That he accepted your view on the matter since he did not know anything about it is poor support for your opinion.
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Old 06-03-2006, 04:58 AM   #7
Hanna B
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

I think Jim McCoy's reasoning is probably a common one, though. Aikido and Budo should be capitalized because they are kind of "holy".
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Old 06-03-2006, 06:21 AM   #8
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote:
IMO, the closer analogue to aikido is "boxing", "wrestling", "fencing", and the like, rather than "Christianity". Although I tend to use a capitalized "Aikido" when talking about organized aikido, i.e., Aikikai Aikido, Yoshinkai Aikido, etc. "He's studied aikido for 12 years", vs. "There's a lot of politics in Aikido."

But, it's a personal distinction that I don't expect anyone to pick up and start using.
I think a better analogy would be 'judo' or 'karate'. Are the first letters of these names capitalized? I think not. So why should aikido be different? It is not a 'proper' name.

Best wishes to all,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 06-03-2006, 07:53 AM   #9
Hanna B
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
I think a better analogy would be 'judo' or 'karate'. Are the first letters of these names capitalized? I think not.
You find plenty of examples of Karate, Iaido and Kendo on the net - it is exactly the same phenomenon. I have seen a couple of instances of Judo also, although quite possibly fewer than regarding karate and aikido since judo often is viewed as mere sport, like wrestling and boxning etc.

Last edited by Hanna B : 06-03-2006 at 07:57 AM. Reason: a forgotten word
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Old 06-03-2006, 12:11 PM   #10
JAMJTX
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

Quote:
Hanna Björk wrote:
I think Jim McCoy's reasoning is probably a common one, though. Aikido and Budo should be capitalized because they are kind of "holy".
Not so much Holy, but "a way of life". Although not religion, they are practiced and applied to life "religiously". Therefore, capitalization is proper. I should have expanded more in the first post.

Jim Mc Coy
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Old 06-03-2006, 02:59 PM   #11
Don_Modesto
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

Quote:
Jim McCoy wrote:
Not so much Holy, but "a way of life". Although not religion, they are practiced and applied to life "religiously". Therefore, capitalization is proper. I should have expanded more in the first post.
Ya think?!

Let's see...religiously, church, shrine, temple, priest, sacrament...

Nope, no capitalization.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 06-03-2006, 04:56 PM   #12
Hanna B
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote:
Let's see...religiously, church, shrine, temple, priest, sacrament...
<devil's advocate>
Aiki jinja (the Aiki shrine), yearly ceremony with priests, o-senseis religios vision about creating a martial art for life and not for death... but more importantly, all this gibberish about aikido making you a better person
</devil's advocate>

IMHO JAMJTX's reasoning makes it understandable why many people choose to capitalize the word aikido. It will still not make it correct from the eyes of mainstream society, though.

(Geee! I started a thread on language usage, and it has gotten kind of popular! I am kind of a language usage nerd, although it does not show when I have to use my clumsy second language... and so I am very happy :-)

EDIT: Note that the Aiki shrine is capitalized above because it is the name of a building, not because I think aiki should be capitalized.

Last edited by Hanna B : 06-03-2006 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 06-04-2006, 08:43 PM   #13
ESimmons
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

There's really no need to debate this. Look up judo, aikido, or karate in a dictionary and see if they are capitalized there; they are not.
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Old 06-04-2006, 09:00 PM   #14
JAMJTX
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

In this case, the dictionary is wrong.

Jim Mc Coy
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Old 06-04-2006, 09:08 PM   #15
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

Quote:
Jim McCoy wrote:
In this case, the dictionary is wrong.
American Heritage, Merriam-Webster, Cambridge, etc. are all mistaken, eh?
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Old 06-04-2006, 09:21 PM   #16
JAMJTX
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

Yes. And it's not just with this.
Especially over the last few years, the dictionaries have been adding ridiculous "words" in order to be politically correct.
For this reason, they can no longer be eaccepted as a final authority on anything.

In the case of Aikido, Judo, etc. they likely do not have the proper understanding of the arts to make the proper determination. It's not a case of them being mistaken, it's a combination of ignorance and elitism on thier part.

Jim Mc Coy
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Old 06-04-2006, 10:18 PM   #17
JAMJTX
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

From, Merriam-Webster Dictionary On-Line
Main Entry: im·pres·sion·ist
Pronunciation: im-'pre-sh(&-)nist
Function: noun
1 often capitalized : one (as a painter) who practices or adheres to the theories of impressionism
2 : an entertainer who does impressions

Main Entry: ai·ki·do
Pronunciation: "I-ki-'dO, I-'kE-(")dO
Function: noun
Etymology: Japanese aikidO, from ai- match, coordinate + ki breath, spirit + dO art, way
: a Japanese art of self-defense employing locks and holds and utilizing the principle of nonresistance to cause an opponent's own momentum to work against him

M-W seems to think it is ok to write
"I paint in the Impressionist style of art"
but not proper to write
"I train in the Aikido style of martial art".

Sorry, but I have to insist that they are wrong. And my English Professor agreed with me.

Jim Mc Coy
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Old 06-04-2006, 10:58 PM   #18
ESimmons
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

Quote:
Jim McCoy wrote:
M-W seems to think it is ok to write
"I paint in the Impressionist style of art"
but not proper to write
"I train in the Aikido style of martial art".
M-W on impressionism:

"1 often capitalized : a theory or practice in painting especially among French painters of about 1870 of depicting the natural appearances of objects by means of dabs or strokes of primary unmixed colors in order to simulate actual reflected light"

When referring to the Impressionist movement, it is grammatically correct to capitalize the words impressionist, impressionism, etc. It is a naming convention. When using the word impressionist to describe something other than the Impressionist art movement, capitalizing it is incorrect.

With regards to the capitalization of martial arts, you are certainly entitled to dissent, but what precedent do you have for doing so? For starters, Wikipedia, NY Aikikai (USAF HQ), and IYAF don't seem to have a problem with not capitalizing aikido.
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Old 06-04-2006, 11:07 PM   #19
JAMJTX
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

M-W says "often capitalized" not "never capitalized".
So the precedent for Aikido to be properly and acceptibly capitalized is there, not only with this word, but others - such as Christianity as used before.

Wikipedia should not be accepted as an authoritative source for anything since anyone with an internet connection can post anything they want.
As for the others, I think they are as wrong as M-W and the others for not capitalizing it.

Jim Mc Coy
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Old 06-05-2006, 01:03 AM   #20
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

Quote:
Jim McCoy wrote:
Not so much Holy, but "a way of life". Although not religion, they are practiced and applied to life "religiously". Therefore, capitalization is proper. I should have expanded more in the first post.
Not in Japan. Of course, you cannot capitalize the word in Japanese.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 06-05-2006, 12:29 PM   #21
JAMJTX
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

I sent an email to Merriam Webster asking them to correct thier error, or atleast add the same statement re: capitalizing.

I was not too surpised by thier response, which further supports my previous statement that a dictionary can not be accepted as an authoratative source.

The M-W representative said that they look at the common usage of the word to make these decisions and go with that. They said that the only sources they have found where words like Aikido and Judo are capitalized are martial arts journals. So rather than go with authoratative sources and be correct, they chose the more common usage.

Jim Mc Coy
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Old 06-21-2006, 07:11 PM   #22
Mike Hamer
 
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

Quote:
Hanna Björk wrote:
Why? How do people think when they do it?

Wow, as English being my first language.....only language, I never thought about that. In kindergarten I was tought to capitalize words that were important. Perhaps it is ingrained into the general soceity's mind that words that are asccociated with martial arts need to be capitalized, because it is common knowledge that alot of respect is involved with many martial arts, and would be in a way, subconsiously dissrespectful.
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Old 06-25-2006, 10:35 AM   #23
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

The convention (I use this word deliberately) with the words in question is not to capitalize when used as common nouns. The Shorter OED, 5th edition, echoes the Merriam Webster dictionary, i.e., no capitalization for aikido, judo, karate, kendo, etc), so unless there's some kind of linguistic cabal taking place between publishers - and even between various English-speaking cultures - this is the rule to follow.
Yes, dictionaries are technically descriptive in nature, but their use as linguistic/semantic/orthographic reference materials gives them a proscriptive function, too. That's why it's helpful to own two or three; the reputable ones provide alternatives in spelling and pronunciation for entries, where applicable.
As far as "authoritative sources" in English, there certainly isn't any agreement. Not according to any of the books on my shelf, in any event (books by Amdur, Draeger, Lowry, Skoss - all aikido practitioners - as well as those of R.W. Smith, and Karl Friday do not capitalize it. Nor do the Kodansha translations of Ueshiba Morihei. John Stevens' books do, on the other hand. Those that I have of his are/were Weatherhill publications). Still, the overwhelming majority of authors do not capitalize the gendai arts in their writing.
Websites are the same. Few of the fora dedicated to aikido - Aikido Journal, this site - capitalize, although most of the aikido organization sites do. As a side note, many of them, including the Aikikai's English web pages, have forgotten to capitalize "budo." So much for that argument.
Part of the problem is that these words are, in many ways, neologisms that are still taking root, so who knows what the convention will become over time (and will it be the same in England as in the States? And what will the usage be in other cultures that write in roman script?).
Interestingly, many of the foremost writers of the budo have already given this matter some thought, and they came up with the Koryu Books Japanese Stylesheet, which can be requested here:
http://koryu.com/email.html
Most of the aforementioned writers with aikido experience contributed to it, as did Larry Bieri and Stan Pranin. It gives considerable weight to the argument against capitalizing.

Regards,
Murray McPherson

Last edited by M. McPherson : 06-25-2006 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 06-25-2006, 05:43 PM   #24
graham
 
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

Quote:
Eric Simmons wrote:
There's really no need to debate this. Look up judo, aikido, or karate in a dictionary and see if they are capitalized there; they are not.
You don't describe how a word is used by discovering its definition.

IMHO, it's not really possible to give a straight answer to the question "Should the 'a' in aikido be capitalised?" It depends how the word if being used and - after all - what we mean by 'should'.

It's impossible to give an authoritative answer to a question like this because that's not how language functions. Just pick up an English (not American-English) Dictionary and note how many words can now be spelt with a 'z' when that would have been "wrong" 15 years ago.
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Old 06-26-2006, 09:28 AM   #25
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Capital letters in Aikido, Budo, Uke etc

Well, I think this thread has convinced me to no longer capitalize. Actually, I've done it both ways at different times, and not always consistantly either.

Thanks for the opinions here, learned something.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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