“Capitol” or “Capital” in the Hunger Games

“Capitol” or “Capital” in the Hunger Games

As someone who loves dystopian literature, all of my friends have been bugging me about my thoughts on The Hunger Games. While I have no high hopes for a young adult book series like the Hunger Games, I finally conceded to reading them so that I can form an informed opinion about the cultural phenomenon by author Suzanne Collins.

Much thanks to my friend who loaned me her books today. I’m not sure when I’ll get to them, but I’m sure it won’t take me long to read them.

While I am trying to remain open minded about the books, something disappointing caught my eye when skimming the back cover.

Did you catch it? You probably did, since I gave it away in the title.

I know the English language doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but come on. From Grammar.About.com,

Capital… a city that serves as the seat of government;

Capitol refers to the building in which a legislative assembly meets. (Remember that the o in capitol is like the o in the dome of a capitol building.)

A preliminary Google search did not reveal that the misuse of “capitol” was intentional. So my questions are:

  1. Is this intentional? If so, why?
  2. And does this continue throughout the books? Because that’s going to annoy me.

Grammar people.


7 thoughts on ““Capitol” or “Capital” in the Hunger Games

  1. The etymologies are different. Capital is derived from the Latin for “head”. Capitol is derived from the name of one of Rome’s hills–the hill that the government sits on. That “Capitol” refers to the legislative building is merely convention because we called our building the Capitol building. It is entirely possible that Panem, in their desire for grandeur, chose that because they didn’t want to be some generic seat of government, but to be *THE* seat of government, if that makes sense. Thematically, the word “Capitol” has much stronger Roman roots than “capital”, which is fitting for the whole Roman theme of the Capitol.

    1. That’s very possible. I just can’t find it anywhere that explains that the word was used intentionally and why.

  2. Hmm, the first thing I noticed was that “capitol” was capitalized, which makes it a proper noun. It doesn’t necessarily have to adhere to any formal definitions; it’s simply the name of a place within the novel.

    Or perhaps I’m missing something? I tend to do that :P.

    You’re certainly not alone, Jacqueline; I find typos and other discrepancies in writing sometimes, and it’s especially distracting since I was a college tutor and professor at one point. It’s like a splinter in your mind.

    I’m starting the Hunger Games myself after reservations similar to yours (young adult books aren’t something I actively seek out), and the writing so far isn’t bad at all.

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. Now I still haven’t started it, so I’m guessing it has something to do with the distortion of the English language in the future. But I can’t find anything online that explains that! I’m trying to give them some credit, but I’m not finding any evidence that it was intentional.

      I guess we are in this together, Mike! 🙂

  3. I’m inclined to think that it’s Capitol because it is perceived as a structure (not necessarily a single building, but potentially — the games take place in a closed environment, after all), rather than just a “capital” center of government. But maybe I just can’t separate dome cities and dystopias.

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