diamond geezer

 Saturday, March 28, 2015

The name of our capital changed last month.

It's now the Capital.

I don't know if you'd noticed.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "An extension of the Bakerloo line will provide a vital new transport link for the people of south London and help to spur jobs, new homes and regeneration in this part of the Capital." [27th March 2015]

The public body making the name change is TfL, in what appears to be a deliberate and carefully planned move.

Before the change

'We are hopeful that this work will mean that young wheelchair users feel even more confident to use the Tube for spontaneous - and planned - travel to get around the capital.' [2nd February 2015]

'These schemes will revolutionise cycling in the capital and further demonstrate how London is leading the way in making its roads safe for all road users' [4th February 2015]

The tender will enable TfL to take forward 50+ sites with development potential across the capital. [6th February 2015]

'We know that a large number of cyclist deaths and serious injuries involve a relatively small number of trucks and lorries that are not fitted with basic safety equipment. Such vehicles are not welcome in the capital and the Safer Lorry Scheme will see them effectively banned from our streets.' [6th February 2015]

'With record numbers cycling in the capital we're pulling out all the stops to deliver world class infrastructure that everyone in our city can be proud of.' [17th February 2015]

In March 2013, the Mayor launched his Vision for Cycling in London, which detailed his £913m programme to improve infrastructure and safety for cyclists in the capital. [17th February 2015]
 After the change

Alongside policing activity, TfL's Taxi and Private Hire Compliance Officers continued their on-going activity throughout the STaN campaign to protect the legitimate taxi and private hire industry by conducting checks on drivers, vehicles and operators across the Capital. [24th February 2015]

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: ‎'With almost ten million people travelling on the Thames last year the river is now an even more integral part of life in our Capital.' [25th February 2015]

Richard Tracey AM, the Mayor's River Ambassador, said: 'It is only right that the River Thames, which has served our Capital for centuries, is given the investment it needs to flourish.' [25th February 2015]

TfL's purpose is to keep London working and growing and to make life in the Capital better. [26th February 2015]

'We will continue our work to improve freight road safety in all aspects, be it collaboration, regulation, enforcement and lobbying, to create a Capital fit for freight, and freight fit for the Capital.' [26th February 2015]

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: 'In Santander Cycles, we have a new red icon symbolising the Capital to Londoners, and the world.' [27th February 2015]

And it's not just press releases. Somebody's been through the TfL website updating mentions of 'the capital' to 'the Capital', and probably adding a few extra ones for good measure.

"Currently, 8.4 million people live in the Capital."
"See the Mayor's proposals to revolutionise transport in the Capital"
"The Emirates Air Line is the latest addition to the Capital's transport network."
"There are a number of potential sites for a new hub airport located to the east of the Capital, including in the Inner Thames Estuary."
"We support the Mayor of London's manifesto commitment to reduce the Capital's CO2 emissions by 60% (against 1990 levels) by 2025."
By conserving and explaining the Capital city's transport heritage, London Transport Museum offers people an understanding of the Capital's past development and engages them in the debate about its future.

I don't know about you, but calling our capital the Capital looks distinctly odd.

You'd normally capitalise a proper noun, such as the name of a place or building, but not the noun category to which it belongs. London deserves its capital letter because it's our capital city, but capitalising Capital sounds presumptuous, even snobbish, because our capital is one of many.

And yet this must be a deliberate move on behalf of TfL. Their press office checks what it publishes exceptionally carefully, with never a spelling mistake to be seen, meeting proofing standards that must be the envy of other public bodies. If they're now saying London is the Capital, they mean it.

A couple of years ago, in one of their press releases, they suddenly started calling the New Bus For London a New Routemaster. This turned out to be the first phase of a total rebrand, applied relentlessly across all media, so thorough that even the metal plaques on the bus's rear staircase switched from "New Bus For London 2013" to "New Routemaster 2014".

What can we expect in the next phase of capitalised Capital rollout? Consistent usage in all of TfL's press releases, yes, but are there plans to spread this over-pompous wording elsewhere? The Capital Overground? The New Bus for the Capital? Visit the Capital? The Tower of the Capital? Might TfL even transform into TfC - Transport for the Capital?

No, probably not. But something recently inspired TfL to rewrite their style guide, whatever that reason might be, and however ridiculous the outcome might look. Our capital is not the Capital, surely, whatever this whim of capitalisation might suggest.


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