Trekkies take on Wikis in a grammatical tizzy over Star Trek Into Darkness


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The Independent Culture

A debate is currently rumbling between two deadly internet factions – Wikipedia editors and Star Trek fans.

And it’s not about the birthplace of Spock (Shi'Kahr on the planet Vulcan) but the grammar, specifically the capitalisation of the letter ‘I’ in the latest Star Trek movie’s title Into Darkness. Or should that be into Darkness? Or Star Trek: Into Darkness? Who knows? We asked Guy Keleny, the Independent’s top grammarian to adjudicate:

“The problem seems to arise because there is no colon. If there were, the title would unpack unambiguously as 'In the Star Trek series, this is the episode entitled Into Darkness'. The capital I follows naturally: Star Trek: Into Darkness.

The absence of a colon introduces an ambiguity. Could it be that the title is a sort of sentence, and unpacks as 'This is the story of the Star Trek into Darkness'? In that case, the usual rule applies, that prepositions and suchlike humble words  should be in lower case. However, the only near analogy I can think of is David Garnett’s novel Lady Into Fox. A quick internet check seems to indicate that most publishers have given it a capital I.

There’s only one thing to do. Follow the preference of the film-makers. It is their title, after all. They call it Star Trek Into Darkness – so that is what it is. In the same way, for instance, everybody accepts that the singer is called  k d lang. Her typographical peculiarity may be pretentious and irritating, but  her name belongs to her.”