Capitals and common names

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: Capitals and common names
From: "Robert Inglis" <>
Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2013 11:57:21 +1000
In the name of pedanticism............

There must be a better label than “English names”. Personally, I prefer “common 

Or should we only capitalise/capitalize the English versions of bird common 

It would seem that some non-English speaking (as a ‘first’ language) 
birdwatchers also capitalise bird common names. For example my copy of 
“Robert’s Birds of Southern Africa” lists common names in a number of languages 
and they all capitalise the names. That is, to maintain the pedantic theme, 
except for the Zulu names which all start with one, two or three lowercase 
letters immediately followed by what looks like the actual name headed by an 
uppercase letter. I don’t speak or understand “Zulu” (I barely understand 
English these days and that is certainly often the case when it is written) so 
I can’t comment on that form of spelling and format.
Of course, that version of that field guide was published in 1984, before 
“texting” and “SMS” so it also has punctuation and the text uses complete words.

Do, for example, German, Japanese, Spanish (but to name a few) birdwatchers 
refer to “English names in their everyday birding conversations?

Just to make it clear, I always capitalise (but rarely capitalize) bird Common 

Bob Inglis
Sandstone Point

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