Friday, 16 January 2015

On orthography

Just a little thought that crosses my mind from time to time: it's odd how, in a few circumstances, we (meaning fanfic writers) tend to ignore what you might call the official standards. For example, read any G. M. Berrow book and you'll see words like "Pegasus" capitalised. Every time. Do you do that in your own stories? No, thought not. Neither do I, because I think it looks silly and distracting, and generally speaking I feel that writing shouldn't get in the way of the actual story.

But I also think it's pushing it to say, as the Twilight's Library guys do (or did), that capitalising pony race names is wrong; fan preference cannot invalidate canon. Given that capitalisation is clearly Hasbro's preferred house style, I don't see how it can be wrong. If you go down that road, you end up clinging to the notion that "alicorn" (or "Alicorn" :P ) can't possibly refer to a winged unicorn. Similarly, the spelling "griffon" has been canon since S1E05, yet only a minority of fanfic writers use it, with most preferring "gryphon" or "griffin".

What happens, though, if a spelling is quite well established and is then overtaken by canon? "Manehatten" is one example: I never quite understood that one anyway, given that "Manhatten" doesn't exist, but still. And, of course, there's the Princess of Love herself: even Hasbro used "Cadence" on a number of occasions before settling down with "Cadance". My preference is for the newer A-spelling in both cases, but I can't say that it distracts me enough to worry about in a fic.

As for me? I use Manehattan, Cadance, griffon and indeed alicorn. In other words, I try to cleave as closely as possible to Hasbro house style in my writing. The one really major exception is those pesky pony race names: I just can't bring myself to capitalise them. (I wonder occasionally what would happen if Cheerilee, say, explicitly said in a show episode that they should be capitalised!) But then I also insist on pretending that there's no such pony as Sweetie Drops, so what do I know?


  1. I capitalized the pony tribes for a while, then got all self-conscious that nobody else does that and stopped. Had no clue about how Hasbro does it.

  2. And that's even before we get into what the canon name is for Derpy/Ditzy Doo/Bright Eyes/Bubbles/Muffins or whatever is put on her merchandising these days!

    1. If you go by some of her more recent merchandise, her name is "I <3 (Derpy face)".

      Except that you can't call her Derpy, so her toy canon name is actually an infinite recursive loop:

      "I <3 (I <3 (I <3...face)...face)...face)"


      It's good enough for me that she was called Derpy once in an episode. :B

    2. It's my new headcanon that no one can say Derpy's true name because it is not of finite length and can only be represented by a generating function :D

    3. Someone, somewhere has doubtless written a fic on that very premise. They should have done, anyway.

    4. I did! Well, sort of.