Vincent Cheung

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

e-mail or email?

I've been using the spelling "e-mail" since I started using the word. I thought that was the proper spelling and that using "email" was just being lazy. So, it irked me anytime my google searches included the term "e-mail" and google suggested a corrected spelling of "email". I found it strange, but thought maybe it was just b/c of the statistical nature of the spell checker that google uses and the plethora of abuses to the English language on the web.

Today, I decided to settle this once and for all and looked it up. Apparently "e-mail" is anachronistic and "email" is widely accepted now. They compare it to words like "web-site", "non-zero", "on-line", "soft-ware", etc., which have since lost the hyphens. Typically new words start with hyphens and then lose them after they become common place. Reportedly over 16,000 words have lost the hyphen in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

The final tipping point in my decision to drop the hyphen and adopt the new and cooler "email" was a comparison between companies that used the form "e-mail" vs "email". A very strong pattern emerges. The companies commonly viewed as behind the times on the web, such as CNN, BBC, The New York Times, Microsoft, HP, IBM, Dell, and CNET, all use "e-mail", while the "hot" companies that are more in tune with the younger generation, such as Google, Apple, Yahoo!, and eBay, use "email". I don't think you have to look any farther than this. What do you want to be associated with, a stuffy old company or a hip cooler one?

Also, it's "internet" now, not "Internet".

4 Comments:

Jill said...

Good Wooden Leg uses "e-mail". I believe it's Canadian Press style, but I would also agree with the statement that it directly relates to the low level of hipness.

Vince said...

Apparently "internet" is more common in Europe and "Internet" is more common in North America.

Bob said...

potayto potahto haha.. all the same to me.

nobody said...

When I wrote my book, I worried about email vs. e-mail. Pretty much everybody I knew had always used "email"; the Wired Style guide came out with "e-mail" and most news orgs followed that.

I thought to myself, "E-mail is strange anyway. There aren't other words that go letter hyphen word!" Well, I dug into it and found that it was actually rather commmon:
http://www.emailoverload.com/extras/hyphenation.php

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