Thursday, February 18, 2021

Should 'tiger' be capitalized?

Should the word 'tiger' be capitalized? I have answered the question already. It should not be capitalized because it is not a proper noun. The word 'tiger' is a common noun. But if you are referring to the 'Bengal tiger' or the 'Amur tiger' the first world in these wild cat names are proper nouns. 'Bengal' describes the name of a geopolitical, cultural and historical region located in South Asia. 

Should tiger be capitalised? No.
Image: MikeB

There is an Indian state called West Bengal. Therefore, Bengal is a proper noun. 'Amur' is a region in Russia. Once again it is a proper noun because of that. The full name is 'Amur Oblast' which is a federal subject of Russia, located on the banks of the Amur and Zeya Rivers in the Russian Far East.

To recap, tiger should not be capitalized because it is not a proper noun but if the word is prefixed with a place the first word in the name of the tiger is capitalized as place names are proper nouns.

Sometimes people mistakenly change the name of a wild cat species. For instance, the Canada lynx is sometimes referred to as the Canadian lynx. This is incorrect. Some people refer to the Asiatic leopard cat as the Asian leopard cat. Once again this is incorrect.

Subspecies of tiger are always named with the region where they live prefixing the word tiger. I have mentioned the Bengal tiger. There is also the Sumatran tiger, Siberian or Amur tiger, South China tiger, Javan tiger, Malayan tiger, Bali tiger, Indochinese tiger and Caspian tiger. See the list of tiger subspecies by clicking here and here to see where they live. And click here to see a page discussing the coutries where the tiger is or was native.

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