Getting the hump with camel case

I just posted on the easyBeds leaflet that bears a close resemblance to easyJet’s logo and branding.

The post reminded me that I also wanted to write a blog entry on camel case, of which easyBeds and easyJet are examples.

I am ashamed to say that I hadn’t actually heard of camel case before, but good old Wikipedia came to the rescue describing it as:

“the practice of writing compound words or phrases in which the elements are joined without spaces, with each element’s initial letter capitalized within the compound and the first letter is either upper or lower case… The name comes from the uppercase “bumps” in the middle of the compound word, suggestive of the humps of a camel.”

Initially used in computer programming and as a way of noting chemical formulae, its use has broadened and you now see it in product names and companies such as the easyWhatever examples.

I have a problem with camel case. I can understand it being used for specific technical tagging or even as a company/brand name (though even I as I type that – I realise I’m actually fairly against its use in that way too).

For a start, I don’t agree with running words together to form contrived compounds. If they are two words, keep them separate. My dislike of this in particular stems from a deep-seated (some might claim irrational) disdain for all things Apple. Think of iMac, iPhone and now the iPad. Ugh. I hate myself for having to type them out. And look, these are all further examples of camel case.

The second reason for my dislike is the fact that in most cases the compound starts with a lower case letter and only features the upper case midway.

Why does this bother me? Imagine having to start a sentence with a lower case letter. every bone in my body is screaming out against this. it feels so wrong. it looks so wrong. it looks like you’re lacking the basics of written English.

My colleagues had a great laugh at my expense when I had to proofread our marineNewcastle website. I got so angry with it. When I had to amend a page and type it out at the start of a sentence, I almost threw up. There’s not even any reason for it to be like this which makes it worse.

There’s also a transportNewcastle website floating around (which I thankfully avoided proofreading – I fear I may have suffered a breakdown). I felt slightly better when they wondered why they weren’t ranking in Google very highly for the phrase “transport Newcastle” but have the top result for the highly unlikely search term “transportNewcastle”. Serves them right.

And don’t get me started on the manufactured location NewcastleGateshead. False marketing taken to an extreme, either Gateshead is jumping on Newcastle’s popularity, or Newcastle didn’t like that Gateshead was getting all the arty redevelopments. Whatever it is, it’s silly. Just wait until the other areas of North East England jump on the bandwagon: NewcastleGatesheadWashingtonSunderland anyone?

I was little bit disappointed when I discovered that some of the New York City neighbourhood names originated with a camel case form – though obviously this wouldn’t have resulted in me disliking the city (that’s an impossibility). Wikipedia quotes examples: SoHo (South of Houston Street) and TriBeCa (Triangle Below Canal Street). Unlike the NewcastleGateshead example they aren’t used in a blatant marketing spin. They’re all about describing the location.

However, good to see that the New Yorkers saw sense and don’t bother with this fussy ol’ camel case, instead referring to them as Soho and Tribeca. Can you imagine what would happen if Gateshead was swallowed up in this way?


4 thoughts on “Getting the hump with camel case

  1. The English language is in a constant state of flux. You constantly do things with the English language that would have have Dr. Johnston turning in his grave.

    English is not Latin, rules that apply to Latin are not always applicable to English. Just because you can't split an infinitive in Latin doesn't mean the introduction to Star Trek is grammatically incorrect just because it upsets some English teachers.


  2. I'm not against change in language at all. I know words evolve, meanings change, new words are formed… This is what makes language interesting.

    I just think there should be some standards.

    My main problem with camel case is the example where it breaks sentence case. Does camel case trump sentence case? I find this visually uncomfortable.

    I'm not sure who this Dr. JohnsTon is …



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