Case sensitivity

rzed rzantow at
Sat Feb 22 05:14:57 CET 2003

"Alex Martelli" <aleax at> wrote in message
news:y9z5a.290667$AA2.11025624 at
> Erik Max Francis wrote:
>    ...
> > But he gave you an example (Coke vs. coke), where the difference in
> > capitalization matters _enormously_.  You just chose to ignore it in
> Sez you.  Walk into any bar and order "a coke".  What will they
> serve you?  Oh you say they can't HEAR you miscapitalized it?  Well,
> well -- what a surprise!  OK, say the din in the bar is so
> terrible you have to jot down your order on paper -- do you
> really think the bartended will be nonplussed if you write
>    A COKE
> or
>    a coke
> rather than painfully mixing case?  Human beings aren't really
> case-sensitive, unless they're being deliberately pedantic for
> the purpose of irking you...

That really isn't the same situation, either. It's only ambiguous when there
multiple possibilities. "A coke" or "a Coke" mean the same thing, and
neither means "some quantity of the fuel called coke."

But suppose I walk into a store where, for some unknown reason, I have the
option of buying either a carton of Coke or a carton of coke.
Case-sensitivity allows me to use capitalization as a means to distinguish
between the two. It's not the only way to do it. I could point and grunt, or
just pick up the item I want, or any of a number of other things, but I have
to do something to disambiguate the request. Case is one means of
disambiguation. Lacking case-sensitivity, I have to rename one or the other
of the objects. Bummer.

This whole discussion is fun and all, but probably not worth repeating
annually, as we seem to. It wouldn't destroy me to lose case-sensitivity. It
wouldn't destroy me to lose color or pitch differences, either. I'm just
used to those things.


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