What are the rules on capitalising place names?

DAgent

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I decided to give my fictional town a name that is clearly two words that overtime have been merged into, but not done well, and I'm not quite sure how to capitalise it. Google results have been a bit, unhelpful, so I'm turning to the best place I know for some advice.

I've got a town called that originally was called "Hot Water" because of a warm spring nearby it that people liked to bath in. It's also a trouble hotspot so of course, hello bad puns. But I decided that over time the words would have merged into one, i.e. "Hotwater" or should that be "HotWater" ? Instinct tells me it should be the former, but I do see some potential comedy if both words are still capitalised but I'm just not sure what the correct way would be.
 

Pyan

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Yes, your instinct is correct - in place names, if two words are joined, the second word loses its capital letter, as in Buda and Pest, which became Budapest. If, though, you join them with a hyphen, the second one keeps the capital, as in the airport Dallas-Fort Worth.
So, for your example:

Hot Water
Hotwater
Hot-Water
 

Biskit

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Definitely lose the second capital letter, and I have an almost perfectly matching example from my home city for you.

As a Bristolian, I went to school just up the hill from a place called Hotwells. The road up the hill is called Jacob's Well Road. Since the name comes from the hot springs in the area, I imagine it was once just known as Hot Wells. :giggle:

 

DAgent

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Definitely lose the second capital letter, and I have an almost perfectly matching example from my home city for you.

As a Bristolian, I went to school just up the hill from a place called Hotwells. The road up the hill is called Jacob's Well Road. Since the name comes from the hot springs in the area, I imagine it was once just known as Hot Wells. :giggle:

I think that's probably the PERFECT example of what I was looking for too :)
 

Swank

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I don't see why you would use a hyphen. "Dallas-Fort Worth" uses a hyphen to separate two distinct places with a combined asset. "Hot-Water" does not, unless it joins two still distinct towns known as Hot Wells and Watershed, respectively. In those examples the hyphen serves as a backslash, keeping them separate.
 

paranoid marvin

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I agree that if the name of a place has overtime been changed into one name, it would not have two capitals.

One other thing to consider is that there are occasions where a place name has overtime not just been condensed, but also have gradually changed over time; sometimes to make them easier to pronounce, sometimes down to the accents of locals etc.
 

tinkerdan

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I'd say that it could be the way you want it to be.
I have made use of this in a novel where there was a place called New Terra and another called NewTerra(which could be New-Terra) that are two distinct places that the character mentions.
 

Biskit

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I agree that if the name of a place has overtime been changed into one name, it would not have two capitals.

One other thing to consider is that there are occasions where a place name has overtime not just been condensed, but also have gradually changed over time; sometimes to make them easier to pronounce, sometimes down to the accents of locals etc.
Back to ,my home town again...

Bristol comes originally from Bridge Stow or Brigstow - the (meeting/holy?) place of the bridge. (Where I live now is close to Davidstow and Michaelstow... which basically means David's holy/meeting place and Michael's holy/meeting place. There are a lot of saints and churches in Cornwall.)

(The surname Bristow probably derives from Bristol...)
 

tinkerdan

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I was just riffing on capitol letters that follow lower case in the same word. Which really doesn't have any precedent in non-corporate English.
That's ok, in my story it is a corporate entity that has been determining many of the names of the colonial worlds.
Although the story is in English--inside the story there is never any attempt to establish what language they are using.

It could be a non-corporeal English for all I know. ;)

Bristol comes originally from Bridge Stow or Brigstow - the (meeting/holy?) place of the bridge. (Where I live now is close to Davidstow and Michaelstow... which basically means David's holy/meeting place and Michael's holy/meeting place. There are a lot of saints and churches in Cornwall.)
Any relation to
Madeleine Stow - e
'Holy Madeleine Stow; Batman.'
 
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Fiberglass Cyborg

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Most British place names are made up of words and names (usually from older dialects) mashed together - be it Newcastle (er, "new castle") or Birmingham ("homestead of the people of Beorma.") I'd be curious to see how "Hot Water" as a place name would mutate over the centuries. "Howatter," "Howter"....
 

Swank

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Most British place names are made up of words and names (usually from older dialects) mashed together - be it Newcastle (er, "new castle") or Birmingham ("homestead of the people of Beorma.") I'd be curious to see how "Hot Water" as a place name would mutate over the centuries. "Howatter," "Howter"....
Seems very Germanic.
 

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