Food fighting words

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The Chicago Manual of Style, the Associated Press Stylebook and Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary agree that the “french” in “french fries” isn’t capitalized. But while the Chicago Manual of Style says the “swiss” in “swiss cheese shouldn’t be capitalized unless the cheese is actually from Switzerland, AP and Webster currently stick with “Swiss cheese.” (The Associated Press Stylebook’s general rule of thumb is: “Most proper nouns or adjectives are capitalized when they occur in a food name: Boston brown bread, Russian dressing, Swiss cheese, Waldorf salad. Lowercase is used, however, when the food does not depend on the proper noun or adjective for its meaning: french fries, graham crackers, manhattan cocktail.”)

The Writing Style Guide that the Office of Public Relations at Southern Utah University has online uses “nutrition and food science” as an example of when not to capitalize an area of instruction. The guidance from Cedar City is “Don't capitalize areas of instruction unless the area is a proper noun [http://www.suu.edu/ur/pr/writing-styleguide.html]. Examples then listed are: “physics, English, forest engineering, nutrition and food science.” The Southern Utah Style Guide adds that “Areas of instruction should be capitalized when used as part of the formal department name,” and the examples are:  “Department of Biology vs. biology department.”

A handout provided by the editorial director at Ten Speed Press says: “When dimensions modify a noun (8 1/2 by 6 1/2-inch pan), the hyphen goes between the last numeral and unit of measure. Use the word "by," not a multiplication symbol, with a space on each side to separate the dimensions. Use hyphens only when measurements or amounts modify a noun. Example: 1-inch-thick piece, but 1 inch thick.”

The University of Arkansas’ Editorial Style and Usage Guide has an entry on “temperatures” that’s applicable to oven recommendations as well as summer highs and winter lows. It says, “Use figures for all temperatures except zero. Use the word minus rather than a minus sign to indicate temperature below zero: The low temperature was minus 5 degrees, or the low was 5 below zero. Expect a temperature in the 30s.”

A blogger who covers language, usage and journalism, John E. McIntyre, has a column critical of writers using “a list of disparate items inappropriately linked by the construction range from ... to or ranging from … to.” His examples of false ranges include “a range of illnesses from Lou Gehrig's to Parkinson's diseases” and “tunes that range from Black Sabbath to Franz Ferdinand.” McIntyre asks “What is the continuum on which one can place Lou Gehrig’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, Black Sabbath and Franz Ferdinand?” His clarification is that “To have a range requires a set of objects, persons, topics or attributes within a limited set.” His example of what does constitute a true range is “The proverbial phrase from soup to nuts [which] means the whole thing, an entire dinner considered as a sequence of courses.”

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This page contains a single entry by ag e-dispatch published on May 2, 2012 4:55 PM.

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