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A proper noun is a
noun A noun () is a word that functions as the name of a specific object or set of objects, such as living creatures, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.Example nouns for: * Organism, Living creatures (including people, alive, de ...

noun
that identifies a single entity and is used to refer to that entity, such as ''Africa'', ''
Jupiter Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant A gas giant is a giant planet composed mainly of hydrogen Hydrogen is the chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol H and at ...

Jupiter
'', ''
Sarah SAR-Lupe is Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , languages = German language, German , demonym = Germans, ...
'', or ''
Amazon Amazon usually refers to: * Amazons In Greek mythology, the Amazons (Ancient Greek: Ἀμαζόνες ''Amazónes'', singular Ἀμαζών ''Amazōn'') are portrayed in a number of ancient Greek, ancient epic poems and legends, such as the L ...
'', as distinguished from a common noun, which is a noun that refers to a
class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class (knowledge representation), a collection of individuals or objects * Class (philosophy), an analytical concept used differently f ...
of entities (''continent, planet, person, corporation'') and may be used when referring to instances of a specific class (a ''continent'', another ''planet'', these ''persons'', our ''corporation''). Some proper nouns occur in plural form (optionally or exclusively), and then they refer to ''groups'' of entities considered as unique (the ''Hendersons'', the ''
Everglades The Everglades is a natural region of tropical climate, tropical wetlands in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Florida, comprising the southern half of a large drainage basin within the Neotropical realm. The ecosystem it forms is not ...

Everglades
'', ''the
Azores The Azores ( , also ; pt, Açores ), officially the Autonomous Region of the Azores (), is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal The two Autonomous Regions of Portugal ( pt, Regiões Autónomas de Portugal) are the Azores (''Região A ...

Azores
'', the ''
Pleiades The Pleiades (, ), also known as the Seven Sisters and Messier 45, is an open star cluster containing middle-aged, hot B-type stars in the north-west of the constellation Taurus (constellation), Taurus. It is among the star clusters nearest to ...
''). Proper nouns can also occur in secondary applications, for example modifying nouns (the ''Mozart'' experience; his ''Azores'' adventure), or in the role of common nouns (he's no ''Pavarotti''; a few would-be ''Napoleons''). The detailed definition of the term is problematic and, to an extent, governed by convention. A distinction is normally made in current linguistics between ''proper nouns'' and ''proper names''. By this strict distinction, because the term ''noun'' is used for a class of single words (''tree'', ''beauty''), only single-word proper names are proper nouns: ''Peter'' and ''Africa'' are both proper names and proper nouns; but ''Peter the Great'' and ''South Africa'', while they are proper names, are not proper nouns (though they could be said to function as proper
noun phrase A noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a phrase In everyday speech, a phrase is any group of words, often carrying a special idiomatic meaning; in this sense it is synonymous with expression. In Linguistics#Analysis, linguistic analysis, a phrase i ...
s). The term ''common name'' is not much used to contrast with ''proper name'', but some linguists have used the term for that purpose. Sometimes proper names are called simply ''names'', but that term is often used more broadly. Words derived from proper names are sometimes called '' proper adjectives'' (or ''proper adverbs'', and so on), but not in mainstream linguistic theory. Not every noun or a noun phrase that refers to a unique entity is a proper name. ''Chastity,'' for instance, is a common noun, even if chastity is considered a unique abstract entity. Few proper names have only one possible referent: there are many places named ''
New Haven New Haven is a coastal city in the U.S. state of Connecticut. It is located on New Haven Harbor on the northern shore of Long Island Sound in New Haven County, Connecticut, and is part of the New York City metropolitan area. With a population o ...
''; ''
Jupiter Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant A gas giant is a giant planet composed mainly of hydrogen Hydrogen is the chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol H and at ...
'' may refer to a planet, a god, a ship, a city in Florida, or a symphony; at least one person has been named ''
Mata Hari Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod (née Zelle; 7 August 187615 October 1917), better known by the stage name Mata Hari (), was a Dutch people, Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan who was convicted of being a spy for German Empire, Germany during World ...
'', but so have a horse, a song, and three films; there are towns and people named ''
Toyota is a Japanese multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multinational state, a sovereign sta ...
'', as well as the company. In English, proper names in their primary application cannot normally be modified by articles or another determiner), although some may be taken to include the article ''the'', as in ''the Netherlands'', '' the Roaring Forties'', or ''
the Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones are an English Rock music, rock band formed in London in 1962. Active for almost six decades, they are one of the most popular and enduring bands of the rock era. In the early 1960s, the Rolling Stones pioneered the gritty ...
''. A proper name may appear to have a descriptive meaning, even though it does not (the Rolling Stones are not stones and do not roll; a woman named ''Rose'' is not a flower). If it had once been, it may no longer be so, for example, a location previously referred to as "the new town" may now have the proper name, ''Newtown'', though it is no longer new, and is now a city rather than a town. In English and many other languages, proper names and words derived from them are associated with capitalization; but the details are complex, and vary from language to language (French ''lundi'', ''Canada'', ''canadien''; English ''Monday'', ''Canada'', ''Canadian''). The study of proper names is sometimes called ''
onomastics Onomastics or onomatology is the study of the etymology, history, and use of proper names. An ''wikt:orthonym, orthonym'' is the proper name of the object in question, the object of onomastic study. Onomastics can be helpful in data mining, with ap ...
'' or ''onomatology'', while a rigorous analysis of the
semantics Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another o ...
of proper names is a matter for
philosophy of language In analytic philosophy Analytic philosophy is a branch and tradition of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, E ...
. Proper nouns are normally invariant for number: most are singular, but a few, referring for instance to mountain ranges or groups of islands, are plural (e.g. ''Hebrides''). Typically, English proper nouns are not preceded by an
article Article often refers to: * Article (grammar) An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases to mark the identifiability of the referents of the noun phrases. The category of articles constitutes a part of ...
(such as ''the'' or ''a'') or other
determiner A determiner, also called determinative ( abbreviated ), is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practic ...
(such as ''that'' or ''those''). Occasionally, what would otherwise be regarded as a proper noun is used as a common noun, in which case a plural form and a determiner are possible. Examples are in cases of
ellipsis The ellipsis , , or (as a single glyph) , also known informally as dot-dot-dot, is a series of (usually three) dots that indicates an intentional omission of a word, sentence, or whole section from a text without altering its original meaning. ...
(for instance, ''the three Kennedys'' = ''the three members of the Kennedy family'') and
metaphor A metaphor is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of pe ...
(for instance, ''the new Gandhi'', likening a person to Mahatma Gandhi).


Proper names

Current linguistics makes a distinction between ''proper nouns'' and ''proper names'' but this distinction is not universally observed and sometimes it is observed but not rigorously. When the distinction is made, proper nouns are limited to single words only (possibly with ''the''), while proper names include all proper nouns (in their primary applications) as well as
noun phrase A noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a phrase In everyday speech, a phrase is any group of words, often carrying a special idiomatic meaning; in this sense it is synonymous with expression. In Linguistics#Analysis, linguistic analysis, a phrase i ...
s such as ''the United Kingdom'', ''North Carolina'', ''Royal Air Force'', and ''the White House''. Proper names can have a common noun or a proper noun as their
head Head Sport GmbH is an American-Austrian manufacturing company headquartered in Kennelbach. It owns the American tennis racket brand Head. Head GmbH is a group that includes several previously independent companies, including the original "Head ...
; ''the United Kingdom'', for example, is a proper name with the common noun ''kingdom'' as its head, and ''North Carolina'' is headed by the proper noun ''Carolina''. Especially as titles of works, but also as nicknames and the like, some proper names contain no noun and are not formed as noun phrases (the film ''
Being There ''Being There'' is a 1979 American satire directed by Hal Ashby. Based on the Being There (novel), 1970 novel of the same name by Jerzy Kosiński, it was film adaptation, adapted for the screen by Kosiński and the uncredited Robert C. Jones. T ...
''; ''Hi De Ho'' as a nickname for
Cab Calloway Cabell "Cab" Calloway III (December 25, 1907 – November 18, 1994) was an American jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th cen ...

Cab Calloway
and as the title of a film about him). Proper names are also referred to (by linguists) as ''naming expressions''. Sometimes they are called simply ''names''; but that term is also used more broadly (as in "''chair'' is the name for something we sit on"); the latter type of name is called a ''common name'' to distinguish it from a ''proper name''. Common nouns are frequently used as components of proper names. Some examples are ''agency'', ''boulevard'', ''city'', ''day,'' and ''edition''. In such cases the common noun may determine the kind of entity, and a modifier determines the unique entity itself. For example: * The 16th robotic probe to land on the planet was assigned to study the north pole, and the 17th probe the south pole. :(common-noun senses throughout) * When Probe 17 overflew the South Pole, it passed directly over the place where Captain Scott's expedition ended. :(in this sentence, ''Probe 17'' is the proper name of a vessel, and ''South Pole'' is a proper name referring to Earth's south pole) * Sanjay lives on the beach road. :(the road that runs along the beach) * Sanjay lives on Beach Road. :(as a proper name, Beach Road may have nothing to do with the beach; it may be any distance from the waterfront) * My university has a school of medicine. :(no indication of the name of the university or its medical school) * The John A. Burns School of Medicine is located at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Proper nouns, and all proper names, differ from common nouns grammatically in English. They may take titles, such as ''Mr Harris'' or ''Senator Harris''. Otherwise, they normally only take modifiers that add emotive coloring, such as ''old Mrs Fletcher, poor Charles'', or ''historic York''; in a formal style, this may include ''the'', as in ''the inimitable Henry Higgins''. They may also take ''the'' in the manner of common nouns in order to establish the context in which they are unique: ''the young Mr Hamilton'' (not the old one), ''the Dr Brown I know''; or as proper nouns to define an aspect of the referent: ''the young Einstein'' (Einstein when he was young). The
indefinite article Indefinite may refer to: * the opposite of definite in grammar ** indefinite article ** indefinite pronoun An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the ...
''a'' may similarly be used to establish a new referent: ''the column was written by a 'or'' oneMary Price''. Proper names based on noun phrases differ grammatically from common noun phrases. They are fixed expressions, and cannot be modified internally: ''beautiful King's College'' is acceptable, but not ''King's famous College''. As with proper nouns, so with proper names more generally: they may only be unique within the appropriate context. For instance, India has a ministry of home affairs (a common-noun phrase) called the Ministry of Home Affairs (its proper name). Within the context of India, this identifies a unique organization. However, other countries may also have ministries of home affairs called "the Ministry of Home Affairs", but each refers to a unique object, so each is a proper name. Similarly, "Beach Road" is a unique road, though other towns may have their own roads named "Beach Road" as well. This is simply a matter of the pragmatics of naming, and of whether a naming convention provides identifiers that are unique; and this depends on the scope given by context.


Strong and weak proper names

Because they are used to refer to an individual entity, proper names are, by their nature, definite; so a
definite article An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases to mark the identifiability of the referents of the noun phrases. The category of articles constitutes a part of speech In traditional grammar, a part of spee ...
would be redundant, and personal names (like ''John'') are used without an article or other determiner. However, some proper names (especially certain geographical names) are usually used with the definite article. These have been termed ''weak proper names'', in contrast with the more typical ''strong proper names'', which are normally used without an article. Entities with weak proper names include geographical features (e.g. ''the Mediterranean'', ''the Thames''), buildings (e.g. ''the Parthenon''), institutions (e.g. ''the House of Commons''), cities and districts (e.g. ''The Hague'', ''the Bronx''), works of literature (e.g. '' the Bible''), and newspapers and magazines (e.g. ''The Times'', ''The Economist'', ''the New Statesman). Plural proper names are weak. Such plural proper names include mountain ranges (e.g. ''the Himalayas''), and collections of islands (e.g. ''the Hebrides''). The definite article is omitted when a weak proper noun is used attributively (e.g. "Hague residents are concerned ...", "... eight pints of Thames water ...").


Variants

Proper names often have a number of variants, for instance a formal variant (''David'', ''the United States of America'') and an informal variant (''Dave'', ''the United States'').


Capitalization

In languages that use
alphabetic An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic ...
scripts and that distinguish lower and upper
case Case or CASE may refer to: Containers * Case (goods), a package of related merchandise * Case, the metallic enclosure component in modern firearm cartridge (firearms), cartridges * Bookcase, a piece of furniture used to store books * Briefcase or ...
, there is usually an association between proper names and
capitalization Capitalization (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American En ...
. In German, all nouns are capitalized, but other words are also capitalized in proper names (not including composition titles), for instance: ''der Große Bär'' (the Great Bear,
Ursa Major Ursa Major (; also known as the Great Bear) is a constellation in the Northern Celestial Hemisphere, northern sky, whose associated mythology likely dates back into prehistory. Its Latin name means "greater (or larger) she-bear," referring to and ...

Ursa Major
). For proper names, as for several other kinds of words and phrases, the details are complex, and vary sharply from language to language. For example, expressions for days of the week and months of the year are capitalized in English, but not in Spanish, French, Swedish, or Finnish, though they may be understood as proper names in all of these. Languages differ in whether most elements of multiword proper names are capitalized (American English has ''House of Representatives'', in which
lexical word Lexical may refer to: Linguistics * Lexical corpus or lexis, a complete set of all words in a language * Lexical item, a basic unit of lexicographical classification * Lexicon, the vocabulary of a person, language, or branch of knowledge * Lexi ...
s are capitalized) or only the initial element (as in Slovenian ''Državni zbor'', "National Assembly"). In
Czech Czech may refer to: * Anything from or related to the Czech Republic The Czech Republic (; cs, Česká republika ), also known by its short-form name, Czechia (; cz, Česko ), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Au ...
, multiword settlement names are capitalized throughout, but non-settlement names are only capitalized in the initial element, though with many exceptions.


History of capitalization

European alphabetic scripts only developed a distinction between upper case and lower case in medieval times so in the alphabetic scripts of ancient Greek and Latin proper names were not systematically marked. They are marked with modern capitalization, however, in many modern editions of ancient texts. In past centuries, orthographic practices in English varied widely. Capitalization was much less standardized than today. Documents from the 18th century show some writers capitalizing all nouns, and others capitalizing certain nouns based on varying ideas of their importance in the discussion. Historical documents from the early United States show some examples of this process: the end (but not the beginning) of the
Declaration of Independence#REDIRECT Declaration of independence {{Redirect category shell, {{R from other capitalisation ...
(1776) and all of the
Constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...

Constitution
(1787) show nearly all nouns capitalized; the
Bill of Rights A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is a list of the most important rights Rights are law, legal, social, or ethics, ethical principles of Liberty, freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are th ...
(1789) capitalizes a few common nouns but not most of them; and the Thirteenth Constitutional Amendment (1865) capitalizes only proper nouns. In
Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity * Danis ...
, from the 17th century until the orthographic reform of 1948, all nouns were capitalized.Kjeld Kristensen: Dansk for svenskere, page 133, Gleerups 1986, ISBN 91-38-61407-3


Modern English capitalization of proper nouns

In modern
English orthography English orthography is the system of writing conventions used to represent spoken English Dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two distinct ways ...
, it is the norm for recognized proper names to be capitalized. The few clear exceptions include ''summer'' and ''winter'' (contrast ''July'' and ''Christmas''). It is also standard that most capitalizing of common nouns is considered incorrect, except of course when the capitalization is simply a matter of text styling, as at the start of a sentence or in titles and other headings. See Letter case § Title case. Although these rules have been standardized, there are enough gray areas that it can often be unclear both whether an item qualifies as a proper name and whether it should be capitalized: "the
Cuban missile crisis The Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis of 1962 ( es, Crisis de Octubre), the Caribbean Crisis (), or the Missile Scare, was a 1-month, 4 day (16 October – 20 November 1962) confrontation between the United States and the ...
" is often capitalized ("
Cuban Missile Crisis The Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis of 1962 ( es, Crisis de Octubre), the Caribbean Crisis (), or the Missile Scare, was a 1-month, 4 day (16 October – 20 November 1962) confrontation between the United States and the ...
") and often not, regardless of its syntactic status or its function in discourse. Most
style guide A style guide or manual of style is a set of standards for the writing, formatting, and design of documents A document is a writing, written, drawing, drawn, presented, or memorialized representation of thought, often the manifestation of n ...
s give decisive recommendations on capitalization, but not all of them go into detail on how to decide in these gray areas if words are proper nouns or not and should be capitalized or not. Words or phrases that are neither proper nouns nor derived from proper nouns are often capitalized in present-day English: ''Dr'', ''Baptist'', ''Congregationalism'', ''His'' and ''He'' in reference to the Abrahamic deity ("God"). For some such words, capitalization is optional or dependent on context: ''northerner'' or ''Northerner''; ''aboriginal trees'' but ''
Aboriginal land rights in Australia Indigenous land rights in Australia, also known as Aboriginal land rights in Australia, relate to the rights and interests in land of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, and the term may also include the struggle for those ...
''. When ''the'' comes at the start of a proper name, as in ''the White House'', it is not normally capitalized unless it is a formal part of a title (of a book, film, or other artistic creation, as in ''
The Keys to the Kingdom ''The Keys to the Kingdom'' is a fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction set in a fictional universe, often inspired by real world myth and folklore. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became fantasy literature and dram ...
''). Nouns and noun phrases that are not proper may be uniformly capitalized to indicate that they are definitive and regimented in their application (compare brand names, discussed below). For example, ''Mountain Bluebird'' does not identify a unique individual, and it is not a proper name but a so-called
common name Common may refer to: Places * Common, a townland in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland * Boston Common Boston Common (also known as the Common) is a central public park in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. It is sometimes erroneously referred to as ...
(somewhat misleadingly, because this is not intended as a contrast with the term ''proper name''). Such capitalization indicates that the term is a conventional designation for exactly that species (''Sialia currucoides''), not for just any bluebird that happens to live in the mountains. Words or phrases derived from proper names are generally capitalized, even when they are not themselves proper names. For example, ''Londoner'' is capitalized because it derives from the proper name ''London'', but it is not itself a proper name (it can be limited: ''the Londoner'', ''some Londoners''). Similarly, ''African'', ''Africanize'', and ''Africanism'' are not proper names, but are capitalized because ''Africa'' is a proper name. Adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and derived common nouns that are capitalized (''Swiss'' in ''Swiss cheese''; ''Anglicize''; ''Calvinistically''; ''Petrarchism'') are sometimes loosely called ''proper adjectives'' (and so on), but not in mainstream linguistics. Which of these items are capitalized may be merely conventional. ''Abrahamic'', ''Buddhist'', ''Hollywoodize'', ''Freudianism'', and ''Reagonomics'' are capitalized; ''quixotic'', ''bowdlerize'', ''mesmerism'', and ''pasteurization'' are not; ''aeolian'' and ''alpinism'' may be capitalized or not. Some words or some
homonyms In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
(depending on how a body of study defines "
word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many languages, words also cor ...

word
") have one meaning when capitalized and another when not. Sometimes the capitalized variant is a proper noun (the ''Moon''; dedicated to ''God''; ''Smith'''s apprentice) and the other variant is not (the third ''moon'' of Saturn; a Greek ''god''; the ''smith'''s apprentice). Sometimes neither is a proper noun (a ''swede'' in the soup; a ''Swede'' who came to see me). Such words that vary according to
case Case or CASE may refer to: Containers * Case (goods), a package of related merchandise * Case, the metallic enclosure component in modern firearm cartridge (firearms), cartridges * Bookcase, a piece of furniture used to store books * Briefcase or ...
are sometimes called
capitonym A capitonym is a word that changes its meaning (and sometimes pronunciation) when it is capitalized; the capitalization usually applies due to one form being a proper noun or eponym. It is a portmanteau A portmanteau (, ) or portmanteau word (f ...
s (although only rarely: this term is scarcely used in linguistic theory and does not appear in the ''
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a comprehensive res ...
'').


Brand names

In most alphabetic languages,
brand names A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Brands are used in business Business is the activity of making one's living or making money ...
and other commercial terms that are nouns or noun phrases are capitalized whether or not they count as proper names. Not all brand names are proper names, and not all proper names are brand names. * ''
Microsoft Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational corporation, multinational technology company with headquarters in Redmond, Washington. It develops, manufactures, licenses, supports, and sells Software, computer software, consumer electroni ...

Microsoft
'' is a proper name, referring to a specific company. But if ''Microsoft'' is given a non-standard secondary application, in the role of a common noun, these usages are accepted: "The ''Microsofts'' of this world"; "That's not the ''Microsoft'' I know!"; "The company aspired to be another ''Microsoft''." * ''
Chevrolet Chevrolet ( ), colloquially referred to as Chevy and formally the Chevrolet Division of General Motors Company, is an American automobile division of the American manufacturer General Motors General Motors Company (GM) is an American Multi ...

Chevrolet
'' is similarly a proper name referring to a specific company. But unlike ''Microsoft'', it is also used in the role of a common noun to refer to products of the named company: "He drove a ''Chevrolet''" (a particular vehicle); "The ''Chevrolets'' of the 1960s" (classes of vehicles). In these uses, ''Chevrolet'' does not function as a proper name. * ''
Corvette A corvette is a small warship A warship or combatant ship is a naval ship that is built and primarily intended for naval warfare. Usually they belong to the armed forces of a state. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand da ...

Corvette
'' (referring to a car produced by the company Chevrolet) is not a proper name: it can be pluralized (French and English ''Corvettes''); and it can take a definite article or other
determiner A determiner, also called determinative ( abbreviated ), is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practic ...
or modifier: "the ''Corvette''", "la ''Corvette''"; "my ''Corvette''", "ma ''Corvette''"; "another new ''Corvette''", "une autre nouvelle ''Corvette''". Similarly, ''Chevrolet Corvette'' is not a proper name: "We owned three ''Chevrolet Corvettes''."


Alternative marking of proper names

In non-alphabetic scripts, proper names are sometimes marked by other means. In
Egyptian hieroglyphs Egyptian hieroglyphs () were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt, used for writing the Egyptian language. Hieroglyphs combined logographic, syllabary, syllabic and alphabetic elements, with a total of some 1,000 distinct characters.The ...
, parts of a royal name were enclosed in a
cartouche Image:Birth and Throne cartouches of pharaoh Seti I, from KV17 at the Valley of the Kings, Egypt. Neues Museum.jpg, upalt=A stone face carved with coloured hieroglyphics. Two cartouches - ovoid shapes with hieroglyphics inside - are visible at the ...

cartouche
: an oval with a line at one end. In
Chinese script Chinese characters, also called ''Hanzi'' (), are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. They have been adapted to write other East-Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system The modern Jap ...
, a
proper name mark In Chinese script, Chinese writing, a proper name mark (Simplified Chinese: 专名号, zhuānmínghào; Traditional Chinese: 專名號) is an underline used to mark proper names, such as the names of Chinese name, people, place name, places, Chines ...
(a kind of
underline 215px, Underscored or underlined text. An underscore, also called an underline, low line, or low dash, is a line drawn under a segment of text. Underscoring/underlining is a proofreading Proofreading is the reading (activity), reading of a g ...
) has sometimes been used to indicate a proper name. In the standard
Pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland China, Taiwan (ROC), and Singapore. It is often used to teach Standard Chinese, Standard Mandari ...

Pinyin
system of romanization for
Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration o ...
Chinese, capitalization is used to mark proper names, with some complexities because of different Chinese classifications of nominal types, and even different notions of such broad categories as ''word'' and ''phrase''.
Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia ...

Sanskrit
and other languages written in the
Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (''Nāgarī'', ),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, , page 83 is a left-to-right abugida . ''May Śiva protect those who take ...

Devanagari
script, along with many other languages using alphabetic or
syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables *Abugida, writing system us ...
scripts, do not distinguish upper and lower case and do not mark proper names systematically.


Acquisition and cognition

There is evidence from brain disorders such as
aphasia Aphasia is an inability to comprehend or formulate language because of damage to specific brain A brain is an organ (biology), organ that serves as the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals. It is locate ...

aphasia
that proper names and common names are processed differently by the brain. There also appear to be differences in language acquisition. Although Japanese does not distinguish overtly between common and proper nouns, two-year-old children learning Japanese distinguished between names for categories of object (equivalent to common names) and names of individuals (equivalent to proper names): When a previously unknown label was applied to an unfamiliar object, the children assumed that the label designated the class of object (i.e. they treated the label as the common name of that object), regardless of whether the object was inanimate or not. However, ''if the object already had an established name'', there was a difference between inanimate objects and animals: * for inanimate objects, the children tended to interpret the new label as a sub-class, but * for animals they tended to interpret the label as a name for the individual animal (i.e. a proper name). In English, children employ different strategies depending on the type of referent but also rely on syntactic cues, such as the presence or absence of the determiner "the" to differentiate between common and proper nouns when first learned.


See also

*
Name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either uniquely, or within a given context. The entity identified by a name is called its referent. A personal ...

Name
*
Proper name (philosophy)In the philosophy of language In analytic philosophy, philosophy of language investigates the nature of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed langua ...


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ''Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary'' (1993; 10th ed.). Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster. . * ''Online Dictionary of Language Terminology''
DTL
DTL
Steeves, Jon (ed.)
http://www.odlt.org
* ''The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language'' (2000; 4th ed.). Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin. . {{DEFAULTSORT:Proper Noun Nouns by type