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August 2, 2010

brique opens for lunch -- or -- Brique opens for lunch

briqueHere's a grammar question for the ever-erudite Sandbox:

If a proper noun begins with a lower-case letter -- eBay, for example -- do you capitalize it when it starts a sentence?

Is it: "eBay announced the sale of Sheila Dixon's fur coat ..." or "EBay announced the sale of Sheila Dixon's fur coat"?

I ask not because of the mayoral mink, which is old news, but because of some new restaurant news.

The news is either:

brique, the new restaurant in Centreville with the all-lower-case name, has started offering lunch.


Brique, the new restaurant in Centreville with the all-lower-case name unless that name appears at the start of a sentence, has started offering lunch.

In any case, the lunch menu is online at brique's website.

brique photo

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 11:17 AM | | Comments (14)


I'd defer to John McIntyre for an answer that uses the proper rule(s) of grammar. Without benefit of his advice, I'd fudge the issue by avoiding placing the restaurant's name at the start of the sentence, e.g.: "I just learned that brique, the new restaurant in Centreville with the all-lower-case name, has started offering lunch."

Beginning with a lower case b is the only thing that makes sense, otherwise it isn't a proper proper noun. Have you ever seen "E. e cummings"? I think not.

Of course AP style has a logic of its own.

Computer hacker Eric S. Raymond (et al) covered this dilemma many years ago in "The New Hacker's Dictionary."

One quirk that shows up frequently in the email style of Unix hackers in particular is a tendency for some things that are normally all-lowercase (including usernames and the names of commands and C routines) to remain uncapitalized even when they occur at the beginning of sentences. It is clear that, for many hackers, the case of such identifiers becomes a part of their internal representation (the `spelling') and cannot be overridden without mental effort (an appropriate reflex because Unix and C both distinguish cases and confusing them can lead to lossage). A way of escaping this dilemma is simply to avoid using these constructions at the beginning of sentences.

I'm sure there have been other style guides with more precise rules since then.

Changing the word order seems ridiculous. I'll bet some style guide would have you do something like this:

"[B]rique is a silly and pretentious name."

If the proper noun begins with a lower-case letter, you do NOT capitalize the first letter if you start the sentence with that noun. No need to rearrange the sentence. And---sorry to disagree OwlMeat--- using the editorial brackets is, well, silly and pretentious.

Couldn't agree more, meditor, thanks.

Let's forget the grammar question and ponder the unctuousness of the name itself, not to mention the e.e.cummings punctuation gimmick.

It seems to be working fine for b Bistro.

I really like b, but the name has always annoyed me just a teensy bit.

"We're going to b."
"You're going to be what?"
"No... we're going to b - the bistro."
"You're going to be a bistro?"

(Note: this never actually happened.

But, sean, it easily could!

It's also a very hard name to Google, unless you include the "bistro" bit.

The worst restaurant name for googling had to be "Three...".

Speaking of which, there's some kind of notice on the building (like a zoning or liquor board notice) now. I've only seen it driving by and haven't had the occasion to read it, but it might be an indication of progress with the new restaurant.

I dunno, I think that the worst name for a restaurant is Dodgy Meat.

RayRay, any place that sells food and bait is on my worst restaurant list. I also don't want to eat next to an animal hospital.

There used to be a place on Gay St. called Copeland's Tire and Snack Bar.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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