This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Nuts and Bolts: The Case of the Camel.

Oh, but surely you know about camels:

Photo by Jeff Kubina

That's a Bactrian camel. You can tell because it has two humps.

But what's camelcase?

Camelcase is a fairly new name for quite an old thing. Chemical formulae use it a lot: CsBr or Na2SiFfor example.

And in case you think that's something scientific and therefore not properly English, then there are DLitts and the PhDs, as well.

Yes, camelcase is to do with capital letters being introduced into a word, giving it humps.

The Word Den sometimes uses a form of camelcase to show stresses, like this: CAMulCASE.

Sometimes it'll be used where the second bit of a word is the name of a person or place. The amaXhosa people call their language isiXhosa, for instance. Which isn't all that unEnglish in form, is it.

Camelcase (I wish it were written camelCase, but it isn't, usually) has been used as a fashion statement for a long time. The DryIce Corporation, for example, was founded in 1925.

In Germany, camelcase has even become a feminist issue. MitarbeiterInnen ("co-workers, male or female") is sometimes preferred instead of Mitarbeiter ("co-workers", grammatically masculine) or Mitarbeiterinnen ("female co-workers").

Now camelcase is everywhere: MasterCard, HarperCollins, iPads, YouTube. It's very trendy indeed.

 But how soon will it be before fashion strands the poor camel in the cultural desert, I wonder?

Ah well. I suppose it'll feel pretty much at home, even when it is.

 Thing To Use Today: a bit of camelcase. The earliest use of the name "CamelCase" in writing occurs in 1995, in a post on USENET by Newton Love. "With the advent of programming languages having these sorts of constructs, the humpiness of the style made me call it HumpyCase at first, before I settled on CamelCase."


  1. Ah, so it has a name.
    I think I like HumpyCase better, as it's much more fun!
    But at the same time it makes me uncomfortable.

    1. That's interesting, Jingles. I do agree about HumpyCase. Interestingly I find I understand your last word - or is it a sentence? - perfectly. I think I might need to look into Space!