InTerCaPiTaLiZaTion: the Beijing trip

To my relief, I saw very little in the way of the orthography-killing cancer that is InTerCaPiTaLiZaTion while I was in Beijing.

The worst offender I spotted was the cover to Qǐyè yǔ xíngzhèng jīguān chángjiàn yìngyòngwén xiězuò dàquán (企业与行政机关常见应用文写作大全 / 企業與行政機關常見應用文寫作大全), which to me just screams out “UGly NightMare”. But at least the word parsing is right, which is more than can be said for many uses of Pinyin in China.


Note that the image is flipped:
detail from the above photo, showing how the title on a book spine is mirrored

More troubling, because it is on official signage, is the use of intercaps on some station guides above the doors of subway cars.

Route Map Of Bei Jing Subway Line 5
The capitalization of “Of” demonstrates that the bro-ken and InTerCaPiTaLized “Bei Jing” is probably due more to standard sloppiness than design. At least I certainly hope no one did that on purpose.

Fortunately, that usage isn’t found throughout the subway system, as this photo from a map of another line shows.
Route Map of Beijing Subway Line2

Reports of what style is to be found on other Beijing subway lines — especially the newest ones — would be welcome.

And Randy spotted this one:
'BeiJing Vikings Football' in black letters on a red van door, with Hanzi

But that appears to be a one-off, since the Beijing Vikings don’t use that style on their Web site or elsewhere that I noticed.

9 thoughts on “InTerCaPiTaLiZaTion: the Beijing trip

  1. Forgive me, Father InterCaps, because a sin in the privacy of one’s head is still a sin, is it not?

    Here’s the confession: I find myself inTerCapping my own pinyin notes that I take at my daughter’s g?qín ?? lessons. It’s always in the rush of trying to write down something I don’t quite understand, and I always laugh at myself when I do it, and I can’t figure out WHY I do it… but there it is. And it happens with disturbing frequency.

    I’d send you a scan of a page out of my notebook, but I don’t want to take responsibility for the blood pressure medication.

  2. > Note that the image is flipped
    Ah, reminds me of the
    ????????????????? Taiwan’s 1999 $1000 bill globe reversed
    incident, .

  3. Ah, flipped images again… maybe they flipped the Latin text on purpose to get back at English speakers for this! ;)

  4. IIRC, they changed the old subway signage in 2007 from InterCaps to ALL CAPS and with new fonts and colours.

    Another East-Asian typographic faux-pas seen here on display: the full-width “i”.

  5. InTerCaPiTaLiZaTion is hardly an accurate name for it. InterCapitalization is what it is.

    Considering the nature of Chinese characters being distinct, I think it’s appropriate to intercapitalise. It doesn’t seem right to fully join them completely in Pinyin. I’m all for “PinYin” or “Pin Yin” or “pinyin” but not “Pinyin”.

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