There are languages which put a prefix or a clitic before a noun to mark definiteness or case. How different languages using Latin alphabet which have this declension or marking deals with capitalization of proper names in those environments?

I don't know any, but in a hypothetical English-based language whose accusative names are inflected putting a "mu-" before them; what are the options to capitalize the name "Peter" in a sentence saying that Arthur saved him, based on how actual languages in which this occurs do?

  • Arthur muPeter saved.
  • Arthur Mupeter saved.
  • Arthur mu-Peter saved.
  • etc.

1 Answer 1


Irish is an example of your first option: the original initial is left capitalised, with prefixed letters lower-case. (It happens that in Irish orthography both the original and the eclipsed consonant are written. In Welsh, on the other hand, when an initial consonant is altered, only the altered one is written, so your question doesn't really arise).

Maltese follows your third option, using a hyphen and then capitalising the original first letter.

Swahili is possibly an example of your second, as the prefix is treated as part of the word, and its initial is capitalised if required; but in general, a form without any prefix does not exist as a word, so perhaps this is a different case.

  • 1
    There are many Bantu languages that follow the first (Irish) pattern. For example, the Xhosa language is called isiXhosa in itself, also isiZulu. And French d'Artagnan.
    – Yellow Sky
    Nov 1, 2017 at 17:10
  • Actually, in French, “d’Artagnan” is opposed to “de Richelieu”: orthographically at least, d’ is a separated word, not a prefix. Nov 2, 2017 at 16:27
  • This elision exists in most Romance languages. Spanish and Italian have it. Portuguese have "d'água" (of water) and the surname "d'Ávila". But it seems that, in the later case, both words (the clitic d' and the proper Ávila) may be capitalized in some names Walter D'Ávila but not in others Dias d'Ávila. But, actually, some consider "d'água" to be a single word, and the spelling "dágua" (without apostrophe) is common despite considered wrong by most dictionaries.
    – Seninha
    Nov 2, 2017 at 17:25

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