Pre Post to “Loki Steals The Moon” : To Capitalize Or Not to capitalize?

So I wrote a short little more or less child friendly story which I’m going to share in the next post. While I was writing it I felt like I was stumbling over a particular issue: does it make sense to capitalize all of the pronouns that refer to Divine characters in a story? As I was writing I noticed that in doing so I ended up with a story in which it felt like every other word was capitalized. This was not only visually displeasing, it made it very difficult to read as I went back to do so. I posted the original draft privately with capitalization of all pronouns of all the characters , seeing as They were all Gods in Their own right. Then I asked for feedback from several of my friends. After reading some of their different ideas on the subject I decided for the purpose of a purely fictional story the practice of capitalization did not serve in the same way that it does in more conversational text and will be posting the story as such.

That said, what are some other thoughts on the subject of when and where capitalization of pronouns referring to Gods and not?

Also a question more for those who may have already researched the subject or may be prompted by reading this (as I plan to as best I can later on) where did the idea that the pronouns referring to Gods should be capitalized? For my own part, I can trace my sentiment that whenever you use He, She, They or other words to refer to a God to my Christian upbringing. The idea has no become commonplace among modern English speakers who worship other Gods than Jehovah for much the same reasons as our Abrahamic counterparts, but where did it start? Having capital and lower case characters isn’t even a universal concept. Runic alphabets for example lack this concept, as do non-phonetic and pictographic languages around the world. Is it an idea we adapted from the English speaking Church or is it present in other much earlier literature and languages in use by Polytheists?


2 responses to “Pre Post to “Loki Steals The Moon” : To Capitalize Or Not to capitalize?

  1. Regarding your question — I think it is very likely that capitalisation of Gods’ pronouns, as well as the word “God” itself, was first brought into use by Christians. In modern times, the most common usage I have seen is to use the capital God and He in order to distinguish that God from all other Gods (then of course spelled “gods”).

    I think this capitalisation concept is modern, and wasn’t much of a thing historically, because there was no reason to even make that distinction. There wasn’t any reason to think of the Gods in terms of letters, capital or otherwise — as you already noted, the writing system didn’t support it — nor even that there were some Gods that were different from other Gods in the way they were to be respected.

    HOWEVER: since the modern usage of non-capitalisation is exactly that kind of disclaimer: “I do not worship or believe in”, there is a certain… idk: motivation? to use capitalisation for polytheists in order to make a visible statement of the opposite, “I do worship these Gods”.

    Furthermore: today, we do think of words in terms of letters, and some people might feel compelled to use the capital as a denominator for the honorific or to express respect. It is one of the very few off-the-shelf mechanisms that most our languages have to do that. (I think Japanese for instance is much different in that way).

    That being said: I think that capitalisation has its place, namely when it’s about how *I* as a person relate to the Gods. BUT: that is not relevant when you’re writing a story — esp. a story that has a somewhat mythical character. In that case you, the author, would probably try to aim to remove your personal relationship with the Gods from the context of the story, as well as any and all interpretations of the Gods themselves, in order to achieve a higher degree of universalness…. if that makes any sense at all to you?

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