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You never know what we’re going to be discussing in the newsroom on any given day. “Is underway one word or two?” “Do we use Gansevoort as a dateline?” “What’s the difference between a ship and a boat?”

So no one blinked an eye Monday afternoon when we spent 15 minutes whether to capitalize “ewok” after an aide to U.S. Rep. Elisa Stefanik, R-Willsboro, made a reference to ewoks wanting to move from Afghanistan to Hawaii.

Well we hashed it around pretty good and decided on lower case.

Then I made the mistake of asking my friends’ list on Facebook. I really should have known better.

You have to understand, most of my Facebook friends are geeks. They have Tardis socks and can name all the doctors. They have every version of Ticket to Ride ever made. They can do all the dialogue for every episode of Firefly. They LARP. They filk. The dress up in Medieval clothes and hit each other with sticks.

Oh, and they have opinions.

Here are some of them:

  • Wookieepedia shows it as capitalized, even when not starting a sentence. Evidently, Ewok is a proper noun.
  • In cultures with multiple sentient species, the species is capitalized if sentient, not capitalized if an animal. So it's "Wookie" and "tauntaun".
  • Even though we do not capitalize the word human, fantasy races can either be capitalized or lowercased. It falls under personal preference for the author and what he/she feels looks good on paper.
  • Yes. It's a species, like human and elephant and targ and sehlat. But it's also a •polity•, a •nationality• as it were, like Vulcan, Cardassian, Centauri, Heptapod, Wookie.
  • It depends on how was being used you would capitalize it in the same sense of how you would capitalize human or primate
  • I suppose it depends on context. I'm endorsing Jack's paradigm. So if we're talking about ewoks as a species, I'd say "Unlike the case of humans, the ewok stomach lining secretes cellulase, allowing them to digest tree bark". But I'd write "In the later years of the Republic, the Ewoks usually sided with the Human delegations on export issues".
  • Yes, of course you capitalize Ewok.
  • Ewoks were a diminutive species of furry bipeds native to the forest moon of Endor. They were most notable for… (Starwars.wikia.com)
  • That's an ewokative subject!
  • Why we capitalize all race names but our own
  • Ewoks are like a nationality, which are generally capitalized. (is there a word for being from a different planet or solar system, like nationality means coming from another nation?)
  • I don't think you would - we don't capitalize human but if the ewok was from let's Say Endor, maybe you could correctly state our furry friends, the Endorians...
  • Day-trading in ewoks will have a better return than capitalising.
  • Even though it's fiction, it'a a proper noun. Capitalize it.

You can read Bill Toscano's blog at poststar.com/blogs or his updates on Twitter, @billtoscano_ps.

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