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Thread: capitalization for "south" and "southern"?

  1. #1
    Accordion Dreams Susan B's Avatar
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    capitalization for "south" and "southern"?

    I am second guessing myself over when to capitalize "south" and "southern"...

    Usage seems to vary, but I *think" the rule is:

    Capitalize when part of a proper noun, a recognized region or place name (the South, South Louisiana, the South Side of Chicago).

    Don't capitalize when it's simply descriptive or directional (south of 23rd Street, the south end of town, southern exposure).

    Sometimes it's hard to know what's a recognized region. I think Southern California is, Southern Ohio might be, southern Rhode Island probably isn't.

    But "Southern" is what's really giving me problems, especially when it refers to the culture of the American South.

    Do you say Southern writers, Southern music, a Southern accent?

    Thanks!

    Susan

  2. #2
    Will write for chocolate FloVoyager's Avatar
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    Do you say Southern writers, Southern music, a Southern accent?
    I'd say yes, since you're talking about individuals (who have names, which if used you'd cap), and the music and accent of a location, which you'd cap. But greater English minds than mine may disagree.

  3. #3
    here's to the girl on the go Harper K's Avatar
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    Susan, you're correct. I've had to look up that capitalization rule a couple times over the years, and what I've read about it fits with your examples.

    I live in Atlanta, and the newspaper here would definitely capitalize "the South," "Southern accent," "a Southern rock band," "a restaurant that serves great Southern food," etc. As long as you're using "southern" to mean that it pertains / belongs to this specific region and its culture, capitalize it.

    However, if I'm talking about my co-worker who lives in the southern part of Atlanta, I wouldn't capitalize that, because I'm talking about a relative area. If I wrote that he lived in "the Southern part of Atlanta," I'd be saying that there's one part of Atlanta that exemplifies Southern culture more than others.
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  4. #4
    Accordion Dreams Susan B's Avatar
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    Thanks, y'all! So it's Southern music, Southern accents, Southern culture!

    Susan

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