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I see that "French Language" is translated as "Langue française" instead of "Langue Française" on this SE:

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Why the casing difference? Since "French Language" uses title case, why wouldn't the French translation also use the title case (i.e., "Langue Française")?

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3 Answers 3

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French and English have completely different systems for capitalizing words in titles.

In English, there are several systems that differ slightly; they are all along the lines of: capitalize the first and last words and all other words in the title except conjunctions, prepositions, and articles. For example:

The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe,
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

In French, there are also several systems you can use, as described in the answers to this question. You always capitalize the first word. In one system, you leave the rest lowercase. In another common system, if the first word is a definite article, you capitalize the first noun, any adjectives before it, and any nouns on an equal footing with it (e.g., joined to the first noun by et or ou).

For example,

Le Grand Blond avec une chaussure noire,
Le Lion, la Sorcière blanche et l'Armoire magique.

I don't believe any of the French systems would capitalize française in Langue française, as it comes after the noun it modifies.

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  • Beside the point, but in English, not all systems capitalize the last word. Wikipedia has details; MLA and APA styles don't capitalize it.
    – wjandrea
    Dec 4, 2022 at 3:36
  • In books and film titles, the first word is capitalised, and if the first word is the definite article, then the following noun is capitalised; if that noun is preceded by an adjective, that is capitalised, if it is followed by a adjective, that is not capitalised. So: "L'Ancienne Femme", "La Femme ancienne", "Un femme ancienne"
    – J.J. Green
    Dec 6, 2022 at 23:43
  • @J.J.Green: that does seem to be the rule, so the answer I link to in my question is incorrect. I'll change my answer. Dec 7, 2022 at 0:00
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[This answer is not about capitalizing words in titles but for its simplest possible convention, which would be similar to a situation where a sentence begins with the phrase in question.] For the same reason writing "(the) french language" in English would be inacurate: convention and usage (and it would be real strange if a site dedicated to the French language would do away with its basic tenets from the get go). Contrary to demonyms (un Français, une Française), language names in French don't take the initial capital irrespective of whether the noun (le français) or the adjective (la langue française) is used to refer to them (Wikipédia (1), Wikipédia (2), LBU14 § 99 a 3° : "La majuscule dans les gentilés est importante parce qu'elle permet de les distinguer des noms de langues, lesquels s'écrivent par la minuscule"; see also Ac.9, TLFi showcasing this convention).


Different languages, different conventions.

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    Thanks, my rationale was as follows: since "French Language" uses title case, why wouldn't the French translation also use the title case (i.e., "Langue Française")? Dec 3, 2022 at 2:12
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    @viande-à-chien: I actually think French is more flexible with capitalization in titles. In English, there's essentially just one way to do it: all the words of a title are capitalized except for articles, conjunctions, and some prepositions. In French, there are several systems you could use — see this question. But française wouldn't be capitalized in any of these systems. Dec 3, 2022 at 3:43
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I guess here "française" is an adjective and comes after "Langue" so no need for uppercase whereas in English it comes before "Language" so an uppercase is necessary/recommended.

The real question then is : why an uppercase on "Language" ?

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  • In English, it has nothing to do with ajective-noun order. See Peter Shor's answer.
    – wjandrea
    Dec 4, 2022 at 3:30
  • I don't believe any of the French systems would capitalize française in Langue française, as it comes after the noun it modifies. I said more or less the same thing he said, except I used the word "adjective" for "modificator". Dec 5, 2022 at 7:18

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