Thursday, January 20, 2011

Grammar, Language, and Discogs

An old man sort of gripe, but somebody has to do it, or else the Idiocracy would become even more firmly entrenched.

Discogs is awesome; an unsurpassed source of information for music releases. I visit the site multiple times every day.

What is not so awesome are some of the site's editorial policies. I used to enter stuff into the Discogs database, but after an endless fight with one editor over one particular entry, I abandoned that hobby.

The source of our disagreement regarded the capitalization of song titles. The specific entry we fought over was Alizée's "Gourmandises Remixées."

In some languages it is customary for song titles to be written with only the first letter in the title capitalized (proper nouns excepted). To capitalize those uncapitalized letters in, say, French would be as silly as lower-casing their equivalents in English. That's just not the way the French write their song titles.

On the "Gourmandises" single, I insisted that capitalization be followed as it was (correctly) done on the CD itself. Thus: "Loup Y Es-tu?" should be written "Loup y es-tu?"

(Paradoxically, "Les Baisers Dance Remix" is apparently correct. I think the logic was that "Les Baisers" was being used as a proper noun, perhaps as another alias for the remixer, and so it was capitalized. In any event, that's how it was written on the CD, and since the other stuff checks out in the logic department I give the record label the benefit of the doubt.)

But a more senior editor insisted I was wrong. Even after I explained that in French song titles are written differently, he brushed me off saying, "But that is incorrect punctuation," deaf to my point. I finally gave up trying to convince him and never submitted to Discogs again.

So you can see for yourself where things go wrong. Here is the back of the fetching Alizée's second album, with song titles...

...and here is how Discogs writes it out, with rampant capitalization.

This might seem a silly point, but I am tired of seeing the forced Anglicization of other languages. It's strange that Discogs, so (admirably) anal retentive about its listings, would be so very wrong on this point. I hope they soon acknowledge the error of their ways and adjust their editorial policy.

If they do, maybe then I'll go back to submitting information into their database. :-D

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