possible bug with character name case in messages

Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

I've just run into the (Hearse) bones of a character named "narge"
where the name is all lower case. The character's ghost is also lurking
about. Part of the ensuing message sequence is:

You hit narge's ghost!
Narge's ghost touches you!

Question: Should the ghost's name in the latter sentence be spelled
"Narge" or "narge"?

My sense is that the name "narge" should preserve spelling even when
appearing at the start of a sentence. But I thought I'd take the
newsgroup's pulse before submitting a bug.

--
Bobby Schmidt
18 answers Last reply
More about possible character case messages
  1. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    Bobby Schmidt wrote:

    > You hit narge's ghost!
    > Narge's ghost touches you!

    > Question: Should the ghost's name in the latter sentence be spelled
    > "Narge" or "narge"?

    > My sense is that the name "narge" should preserve spelling even when
    > appearing at the start of a sentence. But I thought I'd take the
    > newsgroup's pulse before submitting a bug.

    I don't see anything wrong with it. Rule number one in spelling with
    regard to capitalisation is that every sentence should start with a
    capital. For example, in *this* sentence, the word "for", which normally
    does not have a capital, is capitalised.

    On the other hand, another spelling rule is that a *name* should always
    be capitalised. Hence, I think that you could argue that "narge" in the
    *first* sentence should be capitalised, no matter how the player
    initially misspelled it.

    --
    Boudewijn Waijers (kroisos at home.nl).

    The garden of happiness is surrounded by a wall so low only children
    can look over it. - "the Orphanage of Hits", former Dutch radio show.
  2. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    Boudewijn Waijers <kroisos@REMOVETHISWORD.home.nl> wrote:
    > Bobby Schmidt wrote:
    >
    >> You hit narge's ghost!
    >> Narge's ghost touches you!
    >
    >> Question: Should the ghost's name in the latter sentence be spelled
    >> "Narge" or "narge"?
    >
    >> My sense is that the name "narge" should preserve spelling even when
    >> appearing at the start of a sentence. But I thought I'd take the
    >> newsgroup's pulse before submitting a bug.
    >
    > I don't see anything wrong with it. Rule number one in spelling with
    > regard to capitalisation is that every sentence should start with a
    > capital. For example, in *this* sentence, the word "for", which
    > normally does not have a capital, is capitalised.
    >
    > On the other hand, another spelling rule is that a *name* should
    > always be capitalised. Hence, I think that you could argue that
    > "narge" in the *first* sentence should be capitalised, no matter how
    > the player initially misspelled it.

    Heh. Bobby's a programmer. The letter case of a name is part of that
    name ("MacKay" and "Mackay" are two different names), and letter case in
    a name is (almost always) preserved.

    It makes sense to me that "narge" is the *correct* spelling of the name
    and that "Narge" is not. As such, he has a legitimate point that this
    could be considered a spelling error.

    In technical documentation, function names are the same way. if you're
    writing about 'main()', you do start the sentence 'main() is the first
    function called in your program...' with a lowercase letter. FWIW, I
    try very hard to not start sentences like that -- I'll reword it if
    possible.

    OTOH, I don't think it's important enough to worry about here. If the
    code is easy enough to do, but I suspect not (it's probably implemented
    'build the sentence, upcase the first character'... having it recognize
    correctly that the first word is the name and may be lowercase could be
    a little difficult, especially if the name is otherwise a normal word).


    Keith
    --
    Keith Davies "Trying to sway him from his current kook-
    keith.davies@kjdavies.org rant with facts is like trying to create
    keith.davies@gmail.com a vacuum in a room by pushing the air
    http://www.kjdavies.org/ out with your hands." -- Matt Frisch
  3. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    "Boudewijn Waijers" <kroisos@REMOVETHISWORD.home.nl> writes:
    > Bobby Schmidt wrote:
    >
    > > You hit narge's ghost!
    > > Narge's ghost touches you!
    >
    > > Question: Should the ghost's name in the latter sentence be spelled
    > > "Narge" or "narge"?
    >
    > > My sense is that the name "narge" should preserve spelling even when
    > > appearing at the start of a sentence. But I thought I'd take the
    > > newsgroup's pulse before submitting a bug.
    >
    > I don't see anything wrong with it. Rule number one in spelling with
    > regard to capitalisation is that every sentence should start with a
    > capital. For example, in *this* sentence, the word "for", which normally
    > does not have a capital, is capitalised.

    There are exceptions to this in cases where capitalisation would
    actually destroy the sense of the sentence. the() is a function in
    NetHack that prepends 'the' to names, while The() is a function that
    prepends 'The' to names, and applying capitalisation to this sentence
    would confuse the matter utterly.

    > On the other hand, another spelling rule is that a *name* should always
    > be capitalised. Hence, I think that you could argue that "narge" in the
    > *first* sentence should be capitalised, no matter how the player
    > initially misspelled it.

    I'd be inclined to say that lowercasing a name allows it to be treated
    as a common noun rather than a proper noun (that is, it'd still be
    capitalised at the start of sentences, as here). The same issue arises
    with pet names:

    Some mutt bites the kobold lord. The kobold lord misses some mutt.

    If the code here were case-preserving, it'd get this wrong; and it has
    no way of divining the wish of the original player choosing the name,
    so it doesn't seem unreasonable to handle it consistently.

    (If a player gives his pets names that can only be distinguished by
    case, he deserves what he gets.)

    --
    : Dylan O'Donnell http://www.spod-central.org/~psmith/ :
    : "Zabadak, karakakora kakarakak, / Zabadak, shai shai skagalak." :
    : -- Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, "Zabadak" :
  4. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    Keith Davies wrote:

    > Heh. Bobby's a programmer. The letter case of a name is part of that
    > name ("MacKay" and "Mackay" are two different names), and letter case in
    > a name is (almost always) preserved.

    That's part of it, yes: my background in programming C-like languages
    where case is significant to identity.

    > In technical documentation, function names are the same way. if you're
    > writing about 'main()', you do start the sentence 'main() is the first
    > function called in your program...' with a lowercase letter. FWIW, I
    > try very hard to not start sentences like that -- I'll reword it if
    > possible.

    In publishing we get around this by using different font families for
    use vs mention, so that (e.g.) "main" as a normal English word would be
    in a proportional serif font, while "main" as a function name would be
    in a non-proportional sans serif font.

    But I am also thinking of trademarked names. Which of these is correct:

    IPods are selling well.

    or

    iPods are selling well.

    So in reply to Boudewijn's statements:

    > I don't see anything wrong with it. Rule number one in spelling with
    > regard to capitalisation is that every sentence should start with a
    > capital. For example, in *this* sentence, the word "for", which
    > normally does not have a capital, is capitalised.
    >
    > On the other hand, another spelling rule is that a *name* should
    > always be capitalised. Hence, I think that you could argue that
    > "narge" in the *first* sentence should be capitalised, no matter how
    > the player initially misspelled it.

    I'd counter that in at least two domains -- software source code and
    trademarks -- a name can legtimately start with a lower-case letter,
    and that the lower-casing ought to be preserved when mixed into English
    sentences.

    And I'll add a third domain: URLs.

    Closer to NetHack's "reality" are public figures who spell their names
    with lower-case letters. The singer k.d. lang comes to mind
    immediately: how do we spell her name at the start of a sentence?

    So even in the domain of people names, there can be lower-case letters
    at the start.

    What motivated my original observation: The dungeon level had *3*
    different bones piles and ghosts. All ghosts were next to me. I
    initially thought two of the ghosts were named "narge" and "Narge"
    based on the messages. It took me a bit to sort out.

    --
    Bobby Schmidt
  5. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    psmithnews@spod-central.org (Dylan O'Donnell) writes:

    > actually destroy the sense of the sentence. the() is a function in
    > NetHack that prepends 'the' to names, while The() is a function that
    > prepends 'The' to names, and applying capitalisation to this sentence
    > would confuse the matter utterly.

    Yeah.. and I think it would normally be better to change the structure of
    the sentence so that it would begin with something else instead of a
    function name.
    (There is a function the() in Nethack..)
    When a sentence begins with a capitalized function name, the reader can't
    always be sure whether the function is really capitalized or the writer
    just capitalized it without thinking of it. And when a sentence begins
    with a non-capitalized function name, it just doesn't look good.

    --
    Jukka Lahtinen
  6. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    Dylan O'Donnell wrote:

    > There are exceptions to this in cases where capitalisation would
    > actually destroy the sense of the sentence. the() is a function in
    > NetHack that prepends 'the' to names, while The() is a function that
    > prepends 'The' to names, and applying capitalisation to this sentence
    > would confuse the matter utterly.

    In Dutch, there is a solution for an alike problem.

    Sometimes, a sentence begins with a word that has been shortened by use
    of an apostrophe.

    In English, this may also appear: "'t was a cold autumn day", where "It"
    at the start of the sentence is abbreviated to "'t".

    In Dutch, when a sentence starts with a word that is lacking its first
    letter, the *next* word is capitalised: "'t Was een koude herfstdag"
    would be the Dutch translation of the above English sentence.

    This rule goes for words that are missing their starting letter, but I'm
    not sure whether this would also be a valid rule (in Dutch) for
    trademarks that start with a lower case letter, in which case it would
    also be "impossible" to capitalise the first letter.

    --
    Boudewijn Waijers (kroisos at home.nl).

    The garden of happiness is surrounded by a wall so low only children
    can look over it. - "the Orphanage of Hits", former Dutch radio show.
  7. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    chuck wrote:

    >> E. E. Cummings was quite happy for his name to be capitalised in the
    >> standard fashion; the lowercasing was a marketing wheeze of his
    >> editors.
    >>
    > Was E.E. Cummings the author of Archie and Mahidabel (sp?)?

    No, that was Don Marquis, and it's "Mehitabel".

    --
    Benjamin Lewis

    Although the moon is smaller than the earth, it is farther away.
  8. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    On Mon, 9 May 2005, Boudewijn Waijers wrote:
    >
    > In Dutch, there is a solution for an alike problem.
    >
    > Sometimes, a sentence begins with a word that has been shortened by use
    > of an apostrophe.
    >
    > In English, this may also appear: "'t was a cold autumn day", where "It"
    > at the start of the sentence is abbreviated to "'t".

    Except that in English, the first letter would always be capitalized;
    and at least in all the Englishes with which I'm familiar, the words
    "'twas", "'tis", "'twere", et cetera, are all single words without a
    space. Thus: "'Twas a cold autumn day."
    'Cause that's how we do it, that's why. :)

    > In Dutch, when a sentence starts with a word that is lacking its first
    > letter, the *next* word is capitalised: "'t Was een koude herfstdag"
    > would be the Dutch translation of the above English sentence.

    Interesting.

    > This rule goes for words that are missing their starting letter, but I'm
    > not sure whether this would also be a valid rule (in Dutch) for
    > trademarks that start with a lower case letter, in which case it would
    > also be "impossible" to capitalise the first letter.

    The general rule in English is just to avoid starting sentences with
    weirdnesses like that. Instead of writing "eBay is a big company," write
    "The online auction site eBay is a big company." Or, as copy-editing
    blog TheSlot.com has recommended, just write "Ebay," like a normal human
    would, and trust your readers to figure it out. ;-)

    -Arthur,
    insert Nethack content here
  9. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    In article
    <Pine.LNX.4.60-041.0505092008570.11262@unix41.andrew.cmu.edu>,
    "Arthur J. O'Dwyer" <ajo@nospam.andrew.cmu.edu> wrote:

    > > This rule goes for words that are missing their starting letter, but I'm
    > > not sure whether this would also be a valid rule (in Dutch) for
    > > trademarks that start with a lower case letter, in which case it would
    > > also be "impossible" to capitalise the first letter.
    >
    > The general rule in English is just to avoid starting sentences with
    > weirdnesses like that. Instead of writing "eBay is a big company," write
    > "The online auction site eBay is a big company." Or, as copy-editing
    > blog TheSlot.com has recommended, just write "Ebay," like a normal human
    > would, and trust your readers to figure it out. ;-)

    I always approached it from the standpoint that a created-word trademark
    isn't really a word. It's a glyph that happens to be representable by a
    sequence of familiar letters.

    G

    --
    There's nothing quite like the joy of first hearing an Alvin & the Chipmunks
    cover of Pink Floyd's "The Final Cut." "Not Now John" is especially sublime.
  10. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    "Boudewijn Waijers" <kroisos@REMOVETHISWORD.home.nl> wrote:

    > Bobby Schmidt wrote:
    >
    > > You hit narge's ghost!
    > > Narge's ghost touches you!
    >
    > > Question: Should the ghost's name in the latter sentence be spelled
    > > "Narge" or "narge"?
    >
    > > My sense is that the name "narge" should preserve spelling even when
    > > appearing at the start of a sentence. But I thought I'd take the
    > > newsgroup's pulse before submitting a bug.
    >
    > I don't see anything wrong with it. Rule number one in spelling with
    > regard to capitalisation is that every sentence should start with a
    > capital. For example, in *this* sentence, the word "for", which normally
    > does not have a capital, is capitalised.
    >
    > On the other hand, another spelling rule is that a *name* should always
    > be capitalised.

    Then again, on Usenet the spelling rule is generally that a name should
    be spelled and capitalised as its user does it. Similar rules apply in
    quite a few other computing areas - login names, for example, are often
    case-sensitive.

    (I also note that ee cummings would disagree with you, but then again, I
    disagree with ee cummings at least on the subjects of his qualities as a
    poet and the value of his lower-case gimmick.)
  11. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    rlb@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl (Richard Bos) writes:
    > (I also note that ee cummings would disagree with you, but then again, I
    > disagree with ee cummings at least on the subjects of his qualities as a
    > poet and the value of his lower-case gimmick.)

    E. E. Cummings was quite happy for his name to be capitalised in the
    standard fashion; the lowercasing was a marketing wheeze of his
    editors.

    --
    : Dylan O'Donnell http://www.spod-central.org/~psmith/ :
    : "Zabadak, karakakora kakarakak, / Zabadak, shai shai skagalak." :
    : -- Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, "Zabadak" :
  12. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    > E. E. Cummings was quite happy for his name to be capitalised in the
    > standard fashion; the lowercasing was a marketing wheeze of his
    > editors.
    >
    Was E.E. Cummings the author of Archie and Mahidabel (sp?)?
  13. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    On Tue, 10 May 2005, chuck wrote:
    >
    > Was E.E. Cummings the author of Archie and Mahidabel (sp?)?

    Nope. Don Marquis was the author of archy and mehitabel.
    (Wikipedia is your friend!)

    -Arthur
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/archy_and_mehitabel
  14. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    Gregory Weston <uce@splook.com> wrote:
    > In article
    > <Pine.LNX.4.60-041.0505092008570.11262@unix41.andrew.cmu.edu>,
    > "Arthur J. O'Dwyer" <ajo@nospam.andrew.cmu.edu> wrote:
    >
    >> > This rule goes for words that are missing their starting letter, but I'm
    >> > not sure whether this would also be a valid rule (in Dutch) for
    >> > trademarks that start with a lower case letter, in which case it would
    >> > also be "impossible" to capitalise the first letter.
    >>
    >> The general rule in English is just to avoid starting sentences with
    >> weirdnesses like that. Instead of writing "eBay is a big company," write
    >> "The online auction site eBay is a big company." Or, as copy-editing
    >> blog TheSlot.com has recommended, just write "Ebay," like a normal human
    >> would, and trust your readers to figure it out. ;-)
    >
    > I always approached it from the standpoint that a created-word trademark
    > isn't really a word. It's a glyph that happens to be representable by a
    > sequence of familiar letters.
    >
    > G
    >

    Which doesn't make .net any easier from a parsing point of view...
  15. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    In article <428332d8$0$93745$ed2619ec@ptn-nntp-reader01.plus.net>,
    Ian Stirling <root@mauve.demon.co.uk> wrote:

    > Gregory Weston <uce@splook.com> wrote:
    >
    > > I always approached it from the standpoint that a created-word trademark
    > > isn't really a word. It's a glyph that happens to be representable by a
    > > sequence of familiar letters.
    >
    > Which doesn't make .net any easier from a parsing point of view...

    You mean .NET? ;)

    --
    Goal 2005: Convincing James Hetfield to cover the Strawberry Shortcake
    "Are You Berry Berry Happy?" song.
  16. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    chuck wrote:

    >> In publishing we get around this by using different font families for
    >> use vs mention, so that (e.g.) "main" as a normal English word would be
    >> in a proportional serif font, while "main" as a function name would be
    >> in a non-proportional sans serif font.
    >
    > I always thought that was strange as (virtually) any programmer I've
    > known likes code in perportional font (for indentation purposes).

    I think you may have this backwards, assuming the programmers you know
    aren't completely atypical. Proportional fonts are not fixed width.

    --
    Benjamin Lewis

    Although the moon is smaller than the earth, it is farther away.
  17. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    > In publishing we get around this by using different font families for
    > use vs mention, so that (e.g.) "main" as a normal English word would be
    > in a proportional serif font, while "main" as a function name would be
    > in a non-proportional sans serif font.

    I always thought that was strange as (virtually) any programmer I've known
    likes code in perportional font (for indentation purposes).

    > I'd counter that in at least two domains -- software source code and
    > trademarks -- a name can legtimately start with a lower-case letter,
    > and that the lower-casing ought to be preserved when mixed into English
    > sentences.
    >
    > And I'll add a third domain: URLs.
    >
    > Closer to NetHack's "reality" are public figures who spell their names
    > with lower-case letters. The singer k.d. lang comes to mind
    > immediately: how do we spell her name at the start of a sentence?

    That's a gramatical error that she decides to use for "style" purposes.

    > So even in the domain of people names, there can be lower-case letters
    > at the start.
  18. Archived from groups: rec.games.roguelike.nethack (More info?)

    Benjamin Lewis <bclewis@cs.sfu.ca> wrote in
    news:yy7o1x8292d3.fsf@css.css.sfu.ca:

    > chuck wrote:
    >
    >>> In publishing we get around this by using different font families for
    >>> use vs mention, so that (e.g.) "main" as a normal English word would be
    >>> in a proportional serif font, while "main" as a function name would be
    >>> in a non-proportional sans serif font.
    >>
    >> I always thought that was strange as (virtually) any programmer I've
    >> known likes code in perportional font (for indentation purposes).
    >
    > I think you may have this backwards, assuming the programmers you know
    > aren't completely atypical. Proportional fonts are not fixed width.
    >
    duh, ok yeah. Little slip on the nomenclature and the reasoning of it
    there...
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