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Why is Quidditch always capitalized? Soccer isn't, football, baseball, basketball, etc. aren't. Why is Quidditch always capitalized?

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Because Quidditch > soccer, football and baseball and deserves some respect. – ATB Jan 25 at 17:39
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Rowling seems to like to capitalise words that are ‘wizard-specific’, i.e., words that she made up as being particular to the wizarding world. Wizard, witch, rugby, mulled wine, and treacle fudge aren’t capitalised, because they’re normal real-world words; but Muggle, Quidditch, spells, Butterbeer, and Chocolate Frogs are, because they’re notions made up to exist only in the wizarding world. At least that would be my guess as to why they’re capitalised—there doesn’t seem to be any other reason to do so. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 25 at 19:51
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I always had the impression that wizards are a bit more old-school in their capitalization style than us Muggles. – Luke Jan 25 at 22:30
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Monopoly, Scrabble, Risk, and Clue are capitalized, aren't they? Maybe Rowling has patented the game of Quidditch, so that when real life Quidditch leagues are organized they will have to pay her royalties? – user14111 Jan 26 at 2:34
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@Luke Us muggles!? Don't try to fool us, Luke, we know Jedi aren't muggles! – Gunnar Södergren Jan 26 at 6:49
up vote 53 down vote accepted
+50

I’m not sure this is really an answer as such, but it is at least an explanation, for what it’s worth (and MaxD suggested I turn my comment into an answer, so here goes).

The reason seems to be because J.K. Rowling.

For reasons known only to her (and/or her publishers, presumably), words that Rowling herself has invented and which pertain uniquely to the wizarding community are more or less consistently capitalised in the books. Words that exist in real-life, non-wizard English, on the other hand, are capitalised as normal.

Quidditch, being an invented word that pertains to the wizarding world only, is thus capitalised. The same goes for various other words, like Muggle, Butterbeer/Firewhisky, Chocolate Frog,1 and Remembrall. Also consistently capitalised are spells and various types of magic (like Apparition/Disapparition, Floo powder/network, Portkeys, Petrification, Horcrux, etc.), which after all also fit both the criteria of being invented and wizard-specific.

Conversely, similar but non-invented, non-wizard-specific words from similar categories are not capitalised: rugby, wizard/witch, mulled wine/ale, treacle fudge, and alarm (closest non-wizarding equivalent I can think of to a Remembrall that appears in the books).

That doesn’t tell us why Rowling (or her publishers) thought capitalising such words was a good idea; but it does at least allow us to state that it’s not just Quidditch being odd—it’s quite consistent and, at least from a certain viewpoint, not entirely nonsensical. There’s no real, pressing need to capitalise these words, but it does make them stand out from the surrounding text a bit more, which can be useful.

 


1 Of course, names of sweets are not unlikely to be trademarks, anyway, so all bets are off—the books also capitalise Mars bar and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, both of which are more obviously trademarkish, the former being an actual registered trademark™. I suppose Butterbeer and Firewhisky could be trademarks, too, but they sound more like generic types of alcoholic beverages (Butterbeer clearly based on butterscotch).

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This surprised me. In my language they all are lowercased, I think. – Oriol Jan 26 at 2:15
    
@Pacerier Call me old-fashioned, but yes, I still prefer dead-tree books to electronic ones (except when I’m travelling… like right now). Thanks for the confirmation, though, especially because it made me realise that I’d completely forgotten the footnote reference. Oopsies! – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 26 at 9:39
    
"If God didn't want us to make paper out of trees, then why did He make them out of wood?" (To para-quote John Cleese on animals and meat) – Baard Kopperud Jan 26 at 16:49
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@BaardKopperud Of course, to fully appreciate (para-)quotes like that, you have to know that John Cleese didn't believe in gods... – Luaan Jan 26 at 19:42
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@Pacerier Just FYI, that PDF collection is almost certainly violating copyright laws. (The contents are labeled as public domain, but since the release of the HP books into the public domain would have been huge news, it seems the uploader was just lying about that.) – Dougal Jan 27 at 9:08

It’s a bit unusual, isn’t it?

I can't think of a good rule in the English language that would cause it to be so. According to Quidditch through the Ages, the name comes from Queerditch Marsh, a place where an early forerunner to Quidditch was played:

We owe our knowledge of the rude beginnings of Quidditch to the writings of the witch Gertie Keddle, who lived on the edge of Queerditch Marsh in the eleventh century.

So perhaps because it’s named after a real place, that elevates it to the status of a proper noun? (As opposed to, say, football.)

But being named after a real place doesn't entitle a sport to get a capital letter. For example, rugby is likewise named after a real place, but isn’t treated as a proper noun. And as @MattGutting points out in the comments, that was originally capitalised as "Rugby football", and has since lost its capital letter. Quidditch has been played since long before rugby.

Magical folk just have different grammar rules, I guess.

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On the other hand, "rugby" was known (in the 19th and up till the early 20th century) as "Rugby football" (and soccer as "Association football"), thus capitalized: see for example here. "Quidditch" might be getting the same sort of treatment. – Matt Gutting Jan 25 at 20:09
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+1, but disagree about the rugby example making it seem wrong. In universe, muggle Britain and Wizarding Britain are different cultures, and one example of one culture not propagating capitalization from a place name to the name of a sport invented there doesn't make it an unreasonable thing for another culture to do. – TheBeardyMan Jan 25 at 20:12
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+1 because you did think of one good reason for it to be capitalized, even if there are also arguments against it. – Theodore Murdock Jan 25 at 22:35
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Possibly wizards are just old-fashioned, and follow 16th- and 17th-century capitalization rules: “a capital letter at the beginning of every sentence, proper name, and important common noun” (emphasis added.) – David Moles Jan 26 at 22:04

(Not sure answering about English is on-topic here, but the capital letter doesn't seem to have anything to do with the magical world or any hidden significance)

Quidditch is a proper noun. (Please have a look at this answer here).

So, as football, cricket, etc are not proper nouns; so they are not capitalized, unlike the case of Quidditch


Or a much exciting answer would be @AncalagonTheBlack's comment above:

Because Quidditch > soccer, football and baseball and deserves some respect.

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"Quidditch" is not a proper common word in english (or in any another language like french), therefore it should be capitalized (or at least put in italic or between double quotes).

However, you would expect that in the magical word, they would have their own version of the english dictionary with lot of words not present in a muggle english dictionary; including the word "quidditch". Therefore, anyone with knowledge of the dictionaries of the magical world shouldn't capitalize this word; excerpt maybe when writing to a non-magical beeing such as a muggle.

This is clearly the case of the narrator of this story. While he as knowledge of the magical world, he is speaking to non-magical beeings, ie. the readers; therefore capitalizing it should be the correct way of writing it.

However, in certain situations like showing the extract of a newspaper or of a book known in the magical world, this word shouldn't be capitalized.

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"Quidditch" is not a proper common word in english (or in any another language like french), therefore it should be capitalized <- What? I've never heard a rule that made-up words must be capitalized. – Blorgbeard Jan 25 at 21:04
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Also, "English" and "French" should pretty much always be capitalized - though "english" is allowed if you're talking about curved shots in billiards etc., but not the language or the people. /pedantic – Darrel Hoffman Jan 25 at 21:38

I believe Quidditch is more like a brand name.

Taken from http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/capital.asp

Capitalization Reference List

Brand names
Companies
Days of the week and months of the year
Governmental matters
Congress (but congressional), the U.S. Constitution (but constitutional), the Electoral College, Department of Agriculture.

Note: Many authorities do not capitalize federal or state unless it is part of the official title: State Water Resources Control Board, but state water board; Federal Communications Commission, but federal regulations.

Historical episodes and eras
the Inquisition, the American Revolutionary War, the Great Depression
Holidays
Institutions
Oxford College, the Juilliard School of Music
Manmade structures
the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower, the Titanic
Manmade territories
Berlin, Montana, Cook County
Natural and manmade landmarks
Mount Everest, the Hoover Dam
Nicknames and epithets
Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson; Babe Ruth, the Sultan of Swat
Organizations
American Center for Law and Justice, Norwegian Ministry of the Environment
Planets
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, but policies vary on capitalizing earth, and it is usually not capitalized

unless it is being discussed specifically as a planet: We learned that Earth travels through space at 66,700 miles per hour.

Races, nationalities, and tribes
Eskimo, Navajo, East Indian, Caucasian, African American (Note: white and black in reference to race are lowercase)
Religions and names of deities

Note: Capitalize the Bible (but biblical). Do not capitalize heaven, hell, the devil, satanic. Special occasions the Olympic Games, the Cannes Film Festival Streets and roads

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Nice reference, but apart from the very first line this answer isn't really specific to Quidditch. – Rand al'Thor Jan 27 at 13:21

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