Lebowski grammar E-mail
Written by Chalupa   
Monday, 21 March 2011 11:54

Lebowski grammar?  "What's that," you say?  If Walter were here he'd most definitely have a definitive answer for you - something about shutting up, and he might even call you Donny.  What we're actually here to talk about today are Joel and Ethan Coen.  These two dudes make up what is known as "The Coen Brothers." 

I recently saw an article on the Grammar Girl blog address the question, "Should you capitalize Coen Brothers?"  Mignon Fogarty responded with this:

For the Grammar Girl podcast about contractions in the Coen brothers movie True Grit, I had to look up whether I should capitalize "brothers" in "Coen brothers." The answer is no. It would only be capitalized if it were part of their official name--for example, if they were a band called The Coen Brothers. Here are some examples:

  • Olsen twins

  • Coen brothers

  • The Andrews Sisters

  • The Allman Brothers Band

Sources: Chicago Manual of Style, Official Coen Brothers Wiki

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you've probably noticed that I always type "Coen Brothers" and not "Coen brothers."  While this may not be grammatically correct, I have chosen to capitalize this phrase as a proper noun.  I do the same with the word "dude."  When referring to the character played by Jeff Bridges I always type, "The Dude."  When referring to a dude that happens to have the definitive article in front of it, I type "the dude."  This is another one of those breaking-the-rules scenarios, but I'm consistent with my practice and I think it is about as clear as I can make it.  Here are some more examples of my style with explanation.

  • The Dude - Jeff Bridges' character, may or may not be the start of a sentence
  • The dude - start of a sentence talking about some dude
  • the Dude - most likely a typo on my part
  • Coen Brothers - Joel and Ethan Coen
  • Coen brothers - a couple of dudes named Coen who are not Joel and Ethan

Here's the link to the article I found - http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/should-you-capitalize-coen-brothers.aspx.  They have other interesting grammar questions and answers as well.  Be sure to check it out.

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