UA17: Hyphenation and capitalization in report and publication titles
First, some general tips about hyphenation in English.
Hyphenation shows that two words belong together. Consider a Third World War (all the world at war) and a Third-World War (a war only in the Third World). A simple rule is that when compounds like high-pressure, low-cost, real-time, cost-effective, state-of the-art are followed by a noun, they need a hyphen. On the other hand, adverbs ending in -ly in the same position do not need a hyphen as it is clear that they are linked. Example: environmentally
friendly solutions. Note that if high-pressure, low-cost, real-time etc. are placed after a noun, there will be no hyphenation: Example: Drilling at High Pressure/Low Cost. Monitoring in Real Time.
Second, as pointed out in my last column, some words in the titles of books, reports and similar publications are capitalized. Let us consider what to do when there are hyphenated words in such a title.
The general rule is to only capitalize the first element in the hyphenated phrase:
"Low-pressurized Aircraft Design"
This general rule also works when the second element in a hyphenated phrase modifies the first word or both elements are parts of the same word:
"Moscow's English-speaking Community"
"Assessment of Hydropower-based Energy Trading"
"Measures to Stop E-mail Abuse"
Finally, a couple of exceptions to this general rule:
1) Capitalize both the first and second elements in a hyphenated phrase in a title when they have equal force:
2) Capitalize the second element in a hyphenated compound in a title when it is a proper noun or proper adjective:
"Non-American Election Principles"
One Norwegian word that is often difficult to translate into English is "evne" in the human sense.
Words like aptitude, flair and talent all refer to a natural ability to do something. When you want to refer to intellectual skill, capacity is often a good choice.
Aptitude means natural ability related to performance or learning: "His aptitude for management/algebra was astonishing".
Flair means natural ability for selecting or performing well, also talented behaviour is a flair: "He survived in politics a long time, it was his flair for telling the public what it wanted to hear". "She had a flair for languages". As a flair is a gift, not a preference, do not write "a flair for fast cars".
Talent means natural aptitude or skill: "His talent on the football pitch is a delight to watch".
Capacity means the ability or power to do, experience or understand something. A typical use of capacity is in connection with intellect: "This type of calculation is beyond most people's intellectual capacity. The ability to work hard could be termed the capa-
city for hard work. Note that if you do something in the capacity of, this is a formal expression that refers to the role or status you have: "I am writing this recommendation in the capacity of the head of the Planning Department".
Faculty also means the mental or physical power to do something. However, faculty is best used in a formal context: "The Prince has the faculty for saying the right thing, although often not at the right place". In informal English this means the Prince is always "putting his foot in it". In education, faculty is a tricky word. In BE, it means a group of university departments: "The Medical Faculty" (this is usually capitalized). In AE, it usually means the people who teach in a university or college (this is usually not capitalized).
Ability means the human power to do something: "He has the ability to be a great mathematician". Some writers reserve ability for a skill that is acquired and words such as capacity for talents that are innate: "His ability as a detective was helped by his capacity for remembering faces". However, the distinction between what skills are acquired and those that are innate is not easy to make. In the context of education and training, ability is a level of mental power, a talent or skill: "Jones is a student of average/exceptional ability".
Enlightening TV Texting:
Thanks to this collection from a colleague in Oslo, we can see how easy it is to misunderstand English when your job is to text TV programmes:
"What is on the clock?" to a taxi driver. (Texted as: "What time is it?")
"Education is the key, not just the 3 R's". (Texted as "the 3 hours")
"He's a drug addict". (Texted as "he is a crackpot")
"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth". (Texted as "poisoned horse")
"I shall hang you, this is for the noose". (Texted as "your nose")