The debut of the new Winnie the Pooh film reminds me of a malady that’s been striking writers—the tendency to Capitalize for Emphasis. I call this Bear of Very Little Brain Syndrome, after Winnie-the-Pooh, who says, and I quote, “For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me.”
Milne uses this technique throughout the Pooh books, but he was writing for young children and creating dialogue spoken by stuffed animals, who don’t usually possess large vocabularies (as we know, even the somewhat eloquent Owl was pretty much a windbag).
But what are we to make of such lines in books for teens and twentysomethings as, “He was Such a Loser.” Meaning, he was a phenomenal loser? The supreme loser of the universe? So much a loser that words cannot describe his utter hopelessness?
Bear of Very Little Brain Syndrome can devolve into something worse: Bear. Of. Very. Little. Brain. Syndrome. Which is when the words are not only capitalized, but also separated by periods. Most often found in YA novels, e.g. “Oh. My. God.”