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"e-mail" vs "email" 362

wiredog points us to a Wired article talking about a debate at least as critical as the race for U.S. president: e-mail vs email. Well? Which is it? Personally I'm too lazy to care about the proper use of homonyms, much less type an extra hyphen.
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"e-mail" vs "email"

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  • you will eventually start to lose that portion of your readership which may be influential and have real decision-making powers.

    Well, I can't argue with that. Shape up!

    Since I'm here: In the end it is the folks that have seniority on the Network (nee, Arpanet) can decide this. However, note that the NYTimes has for years referred to it as "E-mail." Note the capital 'e'. I tried that convention for a while years ago, masochistically too mind you, especially to disassociate myself from the Win crowd. Who typically never pass up an opportunity to gratuitously mangle a phrase, much less a sentence.

    I gather the assumption made by the Times is that as snail mail is orthographically denoted as "US mail," electronic mail therefore should be similarly constructed. Thus, transforming email into a proper noun they get Electronic mail or E-mail.

    I would go with what old timers use or the Jargon File [jargonfile.org]:
    There are numerous spelling variants of this word. In Internet traffic
    up to 1995, `email' predominates, `e-mail' runs a not-too-distant second, and `E-mail' and `Email' are a distant third and fourth.
    You'll notice the 1995 reference -- that's when the general unwashed media, corporate analysts, and the rest became aware of the Network. That gibes exactly with my experience. I'd go with "email." Less typos, less filling, tradition. =)

    Me pican las bolas, man!
  • "By 1977, the Arpanet employed several informal standards for the text messages (mail) sent among its host computers...."

  • Shouldn't that be mail-eh?
  • Also note Tom Christiansen's list Userspeak vs Hackerspeak [freebsd.org]. In particular:

    C:\ -> root#
    email -> mail
    emails -> messages

    Not that I'd consider tchrist's opinion definitive :-)

  • Of course, if you use Altavista's Advanced Search, you could add them up, as follows:

    (email OR e-mail OR "e mail") AND anythingelse

  • I believe e-mail is correct. As it is a hyphenated word, it defines a new phenomena. As it comes into common use, however, it seems just plain silly, and people drop the dash. At that point the basic rule of language comes into play, basically, Language is defined by those who speak it. So, when e-mail becomes common, the dash may be dropped as it is now a word and no longer a hyphenated. Or so it would seem.

  • I type e-mail just because it reads better; "email" looks like it just might be pronounced "EHM ail", but I have nothing against someone using "email". I know what it means when I see it, and communication's the main reason for language in the first place, right?

    But saving keystrokes as a reason? Ech. That's like arguing :) is better than :-) because noses waste bandwidth. I mean, we'd save keystrokes too if we stopped typing 90% of our vowels. Yu undrstnd wht ths means, rght? Ths s savng kystrks to, bt I dbt it wld ctch on...

  • Since we geeks are going to rule the world eventually anyway. Let's just mandate a regexp solution to appease everyone...

  • Some people still refer to a phone as a `phone. As if there`s any other sort of phone (monophone? Uniphone?)
  • What bugs the hell out of me is the all-too-common usage of 'email' as a singular noun. I see all the time people saying 'I'll send him an email' or 'I have 3 emails'.

    I see this all the time here in Brazil, but for a different word: software. "Software" is used here for the same as "application", so everyone says/writes "I used two softwares for this", or "Which softwares did you use", etc. I've seen it used correctly once in my whole life. You see it in newspapers and even computer magazines -- and the worst: if you write correctly, people will say you've written it wrong. Aaaargh!

    Back on what you said, perhaps people should use "e-message" or "e-letter". This way they could say "oh, I'll check my e-mail because my friend sent me an e-letter yesterday".

    (or "oh, I'll check my email because my friend sent me an eletter yesterday".)

    We could even have "epostcard", "epicture"... hmmm, is this a new way to get rich? :)


  • I totally agree.

    I submit:
    2000-10-23 13:55:04 Nader set to play spoiler (articles,news) (rejected)

    after Slashdot asks for articles about candidates other than Gore. But I get rejected for e-mail/email.

    That'll be my last Slashdot submission.

    BTW, the link to that Nader article is http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A583 18-2000Oct22.html. Talks about him taking votes away from Gore and giving states to Bush, and how the Gore camp is mega-pissed.
  • If you spell it 'email', then according to the rules of phonetics, you would pronounce it "ehmayl" (short e). But if you spell it 'e-mail', then, because it is separated, the 'e' is pronounced as a long vowel; thus, "eemayl".

    (And please don't complain to me about all the English words that don't follow the rules of phonetics. English is a mongrel language, and some older words bring the phonetics of their source language with them. New words should however follow the phonetic rules so we have a reasonable chance of pronouncing them correctly when we first come across them.)

    Unfortunately, school boards in Canada and the US (and for all I know in Great Britain and Oz too) still refuse to teach phonetics it seems, so I'm not surprised to see these tempest-in-a-teacup debates arising now and then.

    Now if we could only get the community to discern the difference between "lose" and "loose"!

  • Deep...... Man..... Whoa....


  • I always thought that the original source of email (or e-mail, if you prefer) stemmed from the term "echo mail," not "electronic mail."

  • by mdtrent3 ( 236695 ) on Monday October 23, 2000 @05:54AM (#683773)
    In theory, yes, the word should be used the same way that "mail" is because it's another variation of that word.

    HOWEVER, how many new words and rules have surfaced because of new technology rapidly coming into mainstream use?

    The general population uses this word as a singular, and it's not like it's a centuries-old word that is suddenly being grossly distorted.
    Personally, i think whether you use the dash or not or if you use it as a singular noun or not, it shouldn't be THAT big of an issue.

    It's still all relatively new language that is evolving in the English language every day.
    Maybe they'll end up being technically incorrect (like "i'm going to send my friend an email") but how many 'rules' are there in the english language that don't have exceptions?
  • e.g.

    I read an interesting piece of e-mail today.

    I'll email you my reply later.

    This works for me.

  • If you really want to screw with em call it either i-mail or imail.
  • Not to mention other pains associated with typing email addresses in general. For instance, in finnish layout (which i have), dot, comma and dash are on the bottom row on the right. So, i have to reach *back* for all these much needed characters (also in URLs). Guess how many times was it www-comma-something? And guess how easy it is to always figure out what went wrong? :-)

    Another joy of finnish layout: the @ sign is an AltGr character on "2" key. So, to type an email address, beside name, i have to reach for an invisible dot (well, my hit rate rises however :-) and do the one-of-a-kind Ctrl + Alt + 2 trick to get the @-sign. That's worse than typing "database".


  • Hotmail [hotmail.com] is "The World's FREE Web-Based E-mail". AOL [aol.com] also advertises e-mail. Amazon [amazon.com] mentions e-mail. The RIAA website will not [riaa.com] send you spam e-mail.

    my.netscape.com advertises [slashdot.org] email. Mozilla mostly [mozilla.org] uses email. Slashdot [slashdot.org] uses email in prefs.

    Therefore, the correct spelling is "email".


  • > a fundamental part of society.

    What do you mean part of society? Email is society.
  • Oh, and that's http://sunburn.stanford.edu/~knuth /em ail.html [stanford.edu]


  • I was an editor in a past life for a software company. We picked e-mail, much for the saem reasons mentioned in the article. It's a combination of two words, which calls out for a hyphen. That one of the words is abbreviated is irrelevant, in this case.

    I also think that e-mail makes for an obvious pronunciation. How would you pronounce "email" if you've never heard it before? Probably "em-ale." As editors, we needed to consider not only the current useage of native speakers, but also how comprehensible it will be to those who speak English as a second language. Following the rules helps, since most non-native speaks of English operate on rules (such as they are). Deviating from them in the name of style is just stupid.

    I'm glad to see that Wired is finally getting a clue about this. When our ediorial group reviewed our standards, we took a look at the Wired guide. We ran away holding our noses. This was around '96, where we had a huge boom in Internet-related jargon (i.e. capitalize "Web" when talking about the World Wide Web? "web site" or "website"? etc.)

    Anyhow, I won't follow Wired on anything after seeing the design of their first issue. Jesus, it looked like it was typeset by a myopic color-blind monkey. They've backed away from that, from what I can see as well (I haven't looked at an issue in 5 years or so).

    Some rules and made to be broken (especially in writing). But other times, breaking the rules is just stupid.

    Note that this really only applies to people who actually do writing for a living. As far as e-mail (or email), and Slashdot posts, heck, if the reader can understand it, who cares? It's only us nitpicky pro writers who really care about this stuff anyhow.
  • Email is rapidly becoming the norm, so I would say it ought to be called MAIL - just like other words which became supplanted by their own successors:

    Electronic computer -> computer

    Horseless carriage -> car

    Digital calculator -> calculator

    Wrist-watch -> watch

  • Ah, grammarians, how thee dost not fit the realm of technology.

    We had a PR person totally filibuster a design meeting she'd managed to weasel her way into, arguing that we couldn't capitalize the options in a menu (like Older Stuff or Privacy or Awards off on the left of this page).

    Now, I was a Lit/Creative Writing major, and I've got a strong grammatical background coming into tech, and there are a bazillion times that I see stupid debates like this -- spell it the way you want to, let Strunk and White battle it out later.
  • One point here: "e-mail" isn't two words joined by a hyphen, it's a word and a letter joined by a hyphen. On those grounds, I'll start typing "email" when we also have the words "xray" and "uturn".

  • The proper way to spell a word is the way most people spell it.


    Just because people misspell it [google.com] 10% of the time doesn't mean it's correct [google.com].

  • The Oxford English Dictionary lists it as "email".

    Good enough for me.
  • I don't really refer to it as email (and I never wrote it "e-mail"), I just call it mail. It may not be right, but that's just how I refer to it.

    For instance:
    "I'll mail it over to you."
    "Don't bug me, I've got to finish going through my mail."
    "Look, if you didn't mail it to me, I have no record of it, so it won't get done."

    The frame of reference usually gives away what kind of mail I'm reading.

  • I'm so glad this has been brought to our attention. This problem (the proper use of or avoidance of hyphens in coined words) sorely needs a solution! We must dedicate our anal and pedantic efforts to fix such crises.

    Once we've solved this problem we can move on to alot versus a lot and perhaps decide if its a sofa or a couch. Is it Chicken-fried Steak or Southern Fried Steak? It's or its? Then/than?

    The world is waiting. They are depending on us--heck, they've handed the whole responsibility of this nightmare to the Nerds of the Net, opting to focus on simple problems like Israeli-Palestinian conflict, opening up of North Korea, the largest Ebola outbreak to date, genetically-engineered corn reaching human food markets and other trivial minutia.

    Darn, I'm proud of geekdom!

    Now hiring experienced client- & server-side developers

  • Personally I'm too lazy to care about the proper use of homonyms

    Apparently you're also too lazy to care about the meaning of homonym. A homonym is a word that is written exactly like another word, but has a different meaning, e.g. wind (the noun), which looks just like wind (the verb). For what it's worth, a homophone is a word that sounds exactly like another word, but has a different meaning, e.g. bear versus bare.

    email and e-mail are neither homophones nor homonyms. :)

    Sorry, I can't resist a little pedantry in the morning...

    Vovida, OS VoIP
    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • "incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result "

    When you make a big deal about setting a standard, the expected result is that you will follow the standard. Sounds Ironic to me!

  • tomatoe






    Let's call the whole thing off.

    I think not; therefore I ain't®

  • > Anyhow, what does "monetize" mean?

    "To establish legal tender." Putting all that funny green ink on a piece of paper makes that paper "worth" something. It could also be used to describe converting gov't securities into currency (which can then be used to by real goods and services).

    Many nations have "monetized" their debt. That is to say, they simply started printing money to pay off their debts (resulting in tremendous inflation).

    It seems like monetize is being adopted as the latest buzz word. I think they think it means "to convert into money." Press Releases that fete that they are "monetizing" their assets mean that either they are going to sell the assets or use them to make something that will, eventualy, make money.

    If a company is going to "monetize their mission-critical implementation with bleeding-edge, next-generation functionality and leverage their position," I'd guess that they are going to sell a new piece of software and hope to make profit.
  • Scene: A small kitchen in suburban America. A teenage girl sits at the table studying a Physics text. Her mother appears to be cooking.

    Mother: "Honey, do you like antipasto? I thought I'd make some -- maybe mix it in with the pasto, and see how it turns out."

    Girl: "Sure, mom. Sounds good."

    The girl seems slightly uncomfortable, but doesn't know why. Suddenly, she begins flipping madly through the textbook until she finds what she's looking for. As she reads, her eyes grow into the size of Buick hubcaps. For one fatal moment, she's frozen.

    [Slow-mo action sequence: Girl knocks her chair back and leaps toward her mother, who is blithely opening a package. The girl's mouth slowly forms the word "No-o-o-o-o.." as she flies through the air.]

    Cut to helicopter's-eye view of the house. Birds chirp. Horns honk. Suddenly, the house becomes a huge plume of smoke and a shockwave that levels trees, buildings, and vehicles for miles around. The mushroom cloud forms, gracefully as always. There is naught but silence disturbed only by the timid crackling of citywide fires.

    Announcer: "People don't kill people; violent transmutation of matter into raw light and energy kills people. We at the Coalition of Concerned Citizens against Food Physics Ignorance have a better way. Join now, and fight Food Physics Ignorance -- [a scream puncuates the silence. A school bus explodes] -- before it's too late."


  • Try typing the word email ...
    Irrelevant. Questions of spelling, grammar, and usage cannot be resolved by appeal to typing speed! I can just imagine Will Shakespeare considering the words in Hamlet's famous soliloquy as a function of the time to scribe them with an ink quill...

    Unless you're a secretary, typing pre-made text, the time to actually think of what to say should dwarf the keyboarding time. Assuming, of course, that you actually have something worthwhile to write.

    As much as it pains me to disagree with the Great and Powerful Knuth, "email" just doesn't reflect the pronuciation of the word; anyone who hadn't encountered it before would probably read it as "EM-ale". (Hmm, sounds like a brand of beer. Free free to use it to name your next batch of homebrew or microbrew, just send me a case.) Yes, it's true that spelling often has little to do with pronunciation (which is why I suck at it), but past ambiguities are no excuse for creating new ones. So I'll stick with "e-mail".

    You have to move that pinky finger (if you type in standard position, which i don't, but for the sake of argument, lets say i do)
    I think strong arguments can be made for abandoning the standard typing position, given the fact that my keyboard has a large set of keys never considered by the inventors of QWERTY.
  • by FPhlyer ( 14433 ) on Monday October 23, 2000 @05:34AM (#683859) Homepage

    I gave up reading the article after the first page. Wired really tires me out with it's constant use of buzzwords like "Digirati" and the like.

    Yes, maybe I should have finished the article before posting my comment. As far as "Wired Style" goes, maybe I was wrong. I got that book for Christmas a few years back when I was still working as a Journalist with the U.S. Navy.

    This is the kind of article on slashdot where very few people are actually going to take the time to read the article. Personal opinions on this matter are more important then what Wired says about it anyway.

    However, because this is true, I should have made doubly sure to be factually acurate in my comment. I went by memory (because my copy of 'Wired Style' is 40 miles away and hidden among a stack of hundreds of books in the top of my bedroom closet.

    Actually, I have wanted for a while to get a new copy of the "Associated Press Stylebook". I haven't seen a copy since the 1994 edition and I would like to see how it has delt with many of the terms that have become so popular due to the internet over the last few years.

    e'mail would not work as a contraction. Contractions follow the style of using the complete first word and than adding an apostrophe and a contracted form of the last word. Therefore electronic'l would be a more correct contracted form.

    "E-mail" works. I prefer email and I prefer it as a new word. We are on the virge of a new emerging evolution of the English language. English has always been an evolving language, a language that changes to meet the needs of the people who are speeking it. This is why there are so many differences in proper English, Austrailian English, American English and the various dialects (southern English is definately different from Northern.)

    Read a copy of "Beowulf" in the original tongue. Old English is barely recognizable to us today. Then read a few passages from the King James Bible of 1611. The language of the "King's English" is also remote to us (though easy to interpret.) Now read a copy of "Grapes of Wrath" and you will see that even this book, which is less than 100 years old, uses language that at times seems a bit odd. Now read "Snowcrash" and you will be reading something that seems modern to us.

    It won't be long before our language accepts the new terminology into it's vernacular as new words and not contractions of two seperate words. E-mail will become email. And little children who see the book "Charlotte's Web" sitting on the shelf will assume first that it is a book about technology.

    Yes, I prefer 'email'. it is simpler. Almost elegant. It is forward-looking. E-mail makes you think of a letter sent electronically. But email is word that is open and transcends the old concepts of mail.

  • by bee ( 15753 ) on Monday October 23, 2000 @05:36AM (#683868) Homepage Journal
    What bugs the hell out of me is the all-too-common usage of 'email' as a singular noun. I see all the time people saying 'I'll send him an email' or 'I have 3 emails'.

    Yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck. The noun 'email' is plural, and should be used exactly the same way as the plural noun 'mail'. You check your email, you send a piece of email, you send some email if you insist on a shorter way of saying the previous. This used to be standard usage before about 1993 or so (see Sep tem ber that never ended [tuxedo.org]), but sadly seems to be the minority usage now.

  • Email is written e-mail by those that don't consider it a proper word. Email is used by those who consider it already a fundamental part of society.

    My prediction is that we stop pronouncing it 'E'-mail and start calling it 'emmail' because it's quicker to say.

  • Actually, it should be LASER (or, more correctly, L.A.S.E.R.), which stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emmision of Radiation...

    I support the EFF [eff.org] - do you?
  • For URLs and email addresses, or anything else where english punctuation could be confused with computer punctuation, I use angle brackets as delimiters (eg &lthttp://this.is/a_real_site&gt.) This parses much more cleanly, IMHO; and most email clients will recognize the url without munging it. I think it makes cutting and pasting easier as well. YMMV.

    For smilies in paranthetical statements, I use square brackets or curley braces as outer delimiters to avoid confusion. An extra trailing space before the closing delimiter helps too. [like this :-) ] Avoiding ambiguity is a good thing.

  • by yist ( 100285 ) on Monday October 23, 2000 @04:19AM (#683884)
    The jargon file [tuxedo.org] seems to prefer "email" however.
  • E is dangerous. Lots of people have died in various ways as a direct result of taking it. Ditto heroin, crack and LSD. You don't want to believe that so you always pretend it was something else that killed them. This is called denial. Wake up to reality, boy: drugs are dumb.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • Personally, I think the correct answer is c-neal.

    Come on... Was this REALLY worthy of a /. news post? Yes, it's geeky... Yes, it's news for nerds, but is this "Stuff that matters?"

  • Amazing!

    Even after reading the article, you leave out the apostrophe in friend's.
  • I've read reprints from the 20's and 30's and it once was common to write these words this way: to-day, to-night, to-morrow. Considering it's one less character to remember and type it reinforces the philisophy that laziness it the mother of efficiency.

    As for my vote, I always write email.

  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <tmsNO@SPAMinfamous.net> on Monday October 23, 2000 @06:38AM (#683895) Homepage
    Thus 'typesetting' probably began as 'type setting', and then moved to 'type-setting', and finally became 'typesetting.'

    The path for 'email' was 'electronic mail', 'electronic-mail', 'e-mail', and finally 'email'.

    Except that your "email" path has an extra step where "electronic" is reduced to "e-", thus destroying the parallel. Your argument might be valid if "e" were a word; of course, a lot of marketroids and hype-masters seem to want to move it in that direction.
  • by siokaos ( 107110 ) on Monday October 23, 2000 @04:20AM (#683897) Homepage
    My friends mom calls it "e"

    "I got a ton of "E" today...
    You rollin?

  • Or maybe that article is not all that interesting? I mean, that's not exactly news. I think Slashdot is looking for more insightful articles that give information about the candidates, not about the election process.

    In other words, that article tells you nothing new about Nader, Gore or Bush.


  • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Monday October 23, 2000 @04:20AM (#683902) Homepage
    Not e-mail nor email, nowadays it's all SPAM.
  • spelling "e mail" [google.com] - 374,000 pages.

    - 370,000 pages. [google.com]

    spe lling email [google.com] - 275,000 pages (quotes matter???)

    spelling email "e mail" [google.com] - 125,000 pages, the first ten of which have "e-mail" in their titles, except for the eighth.


  • by the_tsi ( 19767 ) on Monday October 23, 2000 @08:50AM (#683911)
    Hey, guys,

    I laughed hard at the joke. I'm not some uptight easily-offended baby like a lot of /. readers out there. I just want to make a little rant here, of a slightly personal nature:

    Ecstasy is dangerous shit.

    Besides the immediate side effects (dehydration, high blood pressure, etc), E has a lot of long-term effects that have not been studied in any depth. Some serotonin receptors in your brain are damaged every time you use it -- they're overloaded by the sudden release of serotonin and just give up. Yeah, everyone knows about "terrible tuesdays" and the recovery time after you come down from E, but sometimes it can take weeks for your brain to re-manufacture more serotonin.

    Do some reading: http://come.to/ecstasy. I urge you. My best friend died this summer during his third experience with ecstasy. He was a computer geek studying biomedical engineering... slashdot material. The people that are hurt by this stuff aren't people you don't know in clubs far away -- they're you and me and our friends.

    Party safely.


  • On another note, I've started to notice people saying things like "send me an email". This always makes me cringe. "Send me email", or "send me an email message" are both fine, but "an email" is just plain wrong. Does this annoy anyone else, or shall I just crawl back under my rock?

    I personally have been rooting for "email me", but "send me an email" is fine with me, even though it has superfluous words, because it indicates that the other party should email me once, not repeatedly or regularly.

  • Which leads us to:

    CPAN or C-PAN?
  • Remember folks, its spelled e-m-a-i-l but its pronounced s-p-a-m ...
  • Okay, how about e'mail.

    It's = It is
    can't = cannot
    could've = could have
    e'mail = electronic mail

    Hmmm. Why the hyphen?

    Actually, I do usually write it as e-mail. Simply because I pronouce it "e" "mail" and not "em" "ail".

    "Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"
  • But you never capitalize email (or e-mail) even when it occurs at the beginning of a sentence - you know, one of those 'rare' exceptions in English 8^)

    ... it seems slower to me to pronounce it 'emmail' than 'ee-mail'... I tried it a few times each way - sounds like too much peanut butter stuck to the roof of the mouth... got some funny looks, too.
  • Language is artificial anyway. Is it "check" or "cheque"? Or is it "nine," "neun," "nove," or "nona"? Is it it "hacker" or "h4kr"?

    A long as people understand what your saying, its correct.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 23, 2000 @04:23AM (#683933)
  • While what Mr. Knuth says is true in general for nonce words, it does not hold in all cases. The most frequent exception is nonce words that consist of an abbreviation hypenated onto a word. Remeber that the "e" in e-mail is an abbreviation for electronic, and not a full word by itself. Some very clear examples include A-bomb, H-bomb, X-ray, and the less radiation intensive A-frame (although in this last case the "A" is not an abbreviation, but simply the letter A itself, refering to the shape of the construction).

    Would Knuth (or /.'ers) claim by extention that these should be abomb, hbomb (How would you pronounce that one?), xray and aframe. I say we should stick with the established standard, although I will concede that "e-mail" with a lower case "e" has become widely enough used that "E-mail" with an upper case "E" is probably unnecessary.
  • Dear Mr. Coward,

    You recently used the word "email" in a post on the Slash Dot Web Site. This message is legal notification that our client, Microsoft Corporation, owns the trademark, copyright, and patent on the word "email", and you are in violation of their Intellectual Property rights.

    Normally, we would send you a cease and desist letter, or simply send Rocky and Guido out to your house to make some, ahem, personal rearrangements. However, Microsoft Corporation has been kind enough to allow you full license to use "email", provided you use the new name: Microsoft(TM)(R)(C) ActiveMail(TM)(R)(C).

    We thank you for your expected cooperation in this matter.

    Mr. Phat Bastad,
    Junior Partner,
    Dewy, Cheatum, and Howe, Attorneys at Law.
  • I've submitted a number of relevent articles over the past year or so. They dealt with real issues and questions about technology. This morning I start up my browser and see an article which is asking how to spell a word???????

    Yup, that's right. Welcome to Slashdot.

    Slashdot is run by a few guys looking to have fun. (They have also become moderately wealthy because Andover.net apparently considered Slashdot to be of great value, but due to their contractually guaranteed editorial independence, that is another matter entirely.) They do not run it to keep you happy, nor do they present or intend it to be an unbiased, objective, or even useful news source.

    Please take note of the word "Submit" in the "Submit Story" link. Submit. "To commit to the consideration or judgment of another", according to my dictionary [dictionary.com]. The emphasis is mine. First, "consideration". When you submit a story, it is explicitly NOT guaranteed to be posted. Second, "by another". Not you. Them. The Slashdot editors will post what they darn well please, and if you don't like, that's just too bad.

    ... or you will eventually start to lose that portion of your readership which may be influential and have real decision-making powers.

    Somehow, I suspect this is somewhere far below "refrigerator mold" on Rob's list of things to worry about.

    In short: The submission queue is NOT your personal ego enhancement tool. If you don't like that, leave. And don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
  • let's just get rid of [the hyphen] now and save the world a few billion keystrokes per year.

    Yours is a valiant and noble quest; however, I cannot join the crusade yet lest the health of my maths degree suffer :-( [ or should that be :( ? ]
  • Okay. You have a point with the o'clock thing.

    However, this is an exception, not a rule. Unfortunately, my dictionary (www.dictionary.com) does not trace the date of the first usage of this peice of slang (which is what I am sure it was at the time of it's first usage.

    I can imagine someone sluring "It's eight of the clock" into "It's eight o'clock" in a scottish, irish, or cockney accent quite easily.

    I think a better argument than the mere spelling of email would be for standards in email construction.

    For instance, should you avoid indenting paragraphs in email? I always do. What about capitilization or sans-capitalization? Should one place a space between paragraphs as I often do, or let the whole un-indented body of text merge together?

  • If that were the case, "a lot" would be spelled "alot" or "allot".

    Where do you think words like "helpful" come from? :-)
  • Newly coined nonce words are often spelled with a hyphen, but the hyphen disappears when the words become widely used. For example, people used to write ``non-zero'' and ``soft-ware'' instead of ``nonzero'' and ``software''; the same trend has occurred for hundreds of other words. Thus it's high time for everybody to stop using the archaic spelling ``e-mail''. Think of how many keystrokes you will save in your lifetime if you stop now! The form ``email'' has been well established in England for several years, so I am amazed to see Americans being overly conservative in this regard. (Of course, ``email'' has been a familiar word in France much longer than in England --- but for an entirely different reason.)

    -- Donald E. Knuth (from here [stanford.edu])

  • by FPhlyer ( 14433 ) on Monday October 23, 2000 @04:27AM (#683966) Homepage
    A few years ago the editors over at "Wired" put out a guide to word usage for it's writers (similar to the Associated Press Stylebook" used by journalist around the U.S. Thier stylebook dictates that the proper usage is "email". No dash, lowercase 'e'. The "Jargon File" also seems to prefer this usage. I find that this makes good sense. If you write "electronic mail", you don't capitilize the 'e', so why should you capitilize it in the abbreviation? Of course... Wired doesn't always get everthing right now do they?
  • At least even if I can't spell, I get my links correct. It seems that correct and misspelt are the same in the above post. :-P

    from google:
    definitely - 2,590,000 pages
    definately - 238,000 pages
    definetly - 45,900 pages
    definitly - 41,400 pages
    definatly - 33,300 pages
    definetely - 18,700 pages
    defenitely - 3,870 pages
    defenitly - 1,850 pages
    defenetly - 1,210 pages
    defenately - 628 pages
    defenatly - 536 pages
    defenetely - 181 pages

    I defenatly like 'defenetely' the best. We defenatly need to get more people using it.

    (I guess most people do know how to spell that one. I was hoping more people had trouble with it and I wouldn't look so bad. I always use it and I can never spell it. But then again spelling was my worst subject in grade school. (Now I post to slashdot, I wonder if there is a correlation))

    I think my trouble with 'definitely' stems from the root word. I always think it define - ately when I put them together. I think maybe I should be thinking de - finite -ly. It doesn't make as much logical sense, but at least I'd get the word right.

  • Any editorial staff has that responsibility. If they don't, then they will eventually lose their readership.
    Of course, this is my opinion. But speaking as someone who has been involved with computers for over 25 years, and as someone who DOES make technology decisions, I value my time, and will eventually stop reading SlashDot in favor of other venues if this continues.
    If you want to influence major decision makers, you need to present a consistent image.
    This is my opinion, disagreement with it is acceptable.
  • No, it didn't destroy the parallel, for the principle is the same. Sometimes you get words that wind up being shortened, in addition to a hyphen being removed. Thus 'electronicmail' could have been a valid progression, but it was obviously too unwieldy and they moved right to 'email'.
  • by VSc ( 30374 ) on Monday October 23, 2000 @04:29AM (#683992) Homepage

    I find this note from Don Knuth enlightning:

    A note on email versus e-mail

    Newly coined nonce words are often spelled with a hyphen, but the hyphen disappears when the words become widely used. For example, people used to write ``non-zero'' and ``soft-ware'' instead of ``nonzero'' and ``software''; the same trend has occurred for hundreds of other words. Thus it's high time for everybody to stop using the archaic spelling ``e-mail''. Think of how many keystrokes you will save in your lifetime if you stop now! The form ``email'' has been well established in England for several years, so I am amazed to see Americans being overly conservative in this regard. (Of course, ``email'' has been a familiar word in France much longer than in England --- but for an entirely different reason.)

    Btw, "Micro-soft" had a hyphen too..


  • by SlippyToad ( 240532 ) on Monday October 23, 2000 @04:29AM (#683995)
    Is whether or not there's a hyphen in "anal retentive."
  • Canucks know -- it's eh-mail. ;-)
  • That would have been perfect if he'd said "Personally I'm two lazy to care about the proper use of homonyms . . ." Man, the one time Rob would've been applauded for fucking up, he doesn't. We can't count on that bastard for anything. (Kids, this is what listening to the Satan-worshipping "Guess Who" will do to your brain! We must ferret out the hippie element in our midst!)

    All generalizations are false.

  • The article states, "Standards do matter. The principles of good English are always relevant." What it doesn't state is a good reason why.

    Take a look at all the reasons given. To establish a look. To appear qualified and up-to-date. To keep the New York Times looking like the New York Times. Can anyone else spell marketdroid?

    None of the reasons given are attributed to any underlying cultural or linguistic reasons - instead, the change towards more "rigidity" is attributed to the web becoming more mainstream (or is that main-stream?) and corporatised. In other words, using a particular spelling is good because it helps you establish a brand, differentiate it and sell lots of it.

    The best way for a portal to generate hits? Maybe. But some sort of cultural guideline that the average person should worry about adhering to? No.

  • So is that "mega-pissed" or megapissed?
  • Any editorial staff has that responsibility.

    Again: This is not a law of nature. It is, perhaps, accepted practice in many circles, but there is nothing that says It Must Be So.

    If they don't, then they will eventually lose their readership.

    The publishers of the "National Enquirer" would no doubt disagree with you.

    I value my time, and will eventually stop reading SlashDot in favor of other venues if this continues.

    Again: This is not something Rob (the guy who runs Slashdot) cares too much about. It is an idle threat; it provides no force.

    If you want to influence major decision makers...

    I think I begin to see your error. Namely, the assumption that Rob & Co want to influence major decision makers. They don't. They want to have fun. As the tagline says, this is "News for Nerds". It isn't "News for Major Decision Makers". Those two sets may intersect, but they are not mutually inclusive.

    Don't get me wrong -- you're welcome here, or as welcome as any of us are. But you have to accept Slashdot for what it is. If you're not willing to do that, you're right -- this is the wrong site for you, and you should go elsewhere.


  • Works like "hair". A single hair, several hairs, a clump of hair. So, having a lot of e-mail, and reading one e-mail, are both fine.

    E-mail is also a verb; you can e-mail someone.

    And whoever said something about uncountable nouns was right. Same as hair, though; can be either uncountable or singular (or with an s, plural).


  • that's "anally retentive" to you buster
  • by Rupert ( 28001 ) on Monday October 23, 2000 @04:31AM (#684020) Homepage Journal
    Come on, guys! We haven't had a decent poll in months, and when but when decent poll fodder does come along, you post it as an article.

    Post this as a poll. You could probably do the same with some of the lameness that gets foisted on us in Ask Slashdot, too.

  • by rc-flyer ( 20492 ) on Monday October 23, 2000 @04:32AM (#684021)
    I've submitted a number of relevent articles over the past year or so. They dealt with real issues and questions about technology.
    This morning I start up my browser and see an article which is asking how to spell a word???????
    Come on, guys. Either get some consistency with your editorial selections, or you will eventually start to lose that portion of your readership which may be influential and have real decision-making powers.
    Jonathan Bayer, Director of Technology at Dynamic Logic
  • I am disgruntled only because of the total nonsense of the original posting. If something this irrevelent is posted, then why aren't other, more relevent postings let through.
    SlashDot will lose the most influential members of it's readership if these kind of articles keep getting posted.
    In regards to my own previous postings, it is kind of ironic that quite often postings get rejected, only to have virtually the same one accepted a little later. This has happened to me and to many others. The editorial staff has the responsibility to maintain consistancy, yet all too often they demonstrate a total lack of consistancy.
  • My decision-making powers include deciding what OS's to use on our servers. For those who are curious, we use mostly RedHat Linux 6.2, although an upgrade to 7.0 is planned in the next few months. We have 24 servers running behind a load balancer, and so far have not had any problems with the systems. There are also a couple of Sun boxes which we need to keep for political reasons. The load balancer is a CoyotePoint Equalizer.
  • The noun 'email' is plural, and should be used exactly the same way as the plural noun 'mail'.

    No, email is a brand new word with a life of its own and it is not at all required to follow the same usage as the older word "mail", any more than "television" should be restricted to a range of meanings comparable to that of its root word "vision". Like all other words, the word "email" means what people who use the word "email" mean by it, and if they decide to widely use this new word in a grammatical sense that is not precisely analogous to its root word "mail," then they are free to do so.

    Like so very many other English words, "email" has more than one meaning, and the reader or listener is required to distinguish between them by reasoning from the context. In this quote:

    An email is a single message which one receives via one's email, that is, one's network mail system. Some users receive hundreds of emails a day. You never know from day to day what will turn up amidst your email.

    the first "email" in those sentences does not mean the same as the second, yet you immediately know, reading it, what each instance of "email" means. Note that I have included an example, the last, of "email" as a plural noun, and another, the second-to-last, where the plural of "email" is "emails" instead.

    ...This used to be standard usage before about 1993 or so (see September that never ended), but sadly seems to be the minority usage now.

    Nothing at all "sad" about it; neology is good! What's sad is when a language ceases to change, grow, evolve; what you call it then is a "dead language."

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • More like the influx of ignorants spam up our language the same way they've spammed up Usenet and other such forums that used to be useful. Go read the followup to my post that describes how they're abusing the perfectly good word 'software' down in Brazil. It's all part of the dumbing down of America and by proxy, the world. We already have television that plays to the lowest common denominator; the last thing I want to see is an Internet that ends up AOLized.

    • With clarity in mind, we've made a number of other minor changes intended to keep the prose moving. There's no point in enumerating them here. Some may jump out at you. Most will probably go unnoticed. But if we've made the right choices, you should be able to move at flank speed and still come away with a good sense of what you've just read.
    Considering the changes that they allude to, I'd find a Changelog to be quite helpful :). I'm being serious. I mean, wouldn't that be appropriate?

    Alex Bischoff

  • Wow! I didn't know that those of us that used electronic mail to communicate (I can remember sending email as far back as 1982) had to wait for some company to be born in 1996 to tell us in the year 200 that we should hyphenate the word!

    If they want to call it "e-mail" or "email" or even "fred" -- the fact remains that this is shere stupidity and triteness beyond belief. Why is Wired News so self-important that they are going to lecture to those of us that have been around for so much longer on how we should be spelling terms that have been in place for years before they even existed?

    Besides, the "e" means electronic, and a principal function of the hyphen is to join two words to form a completely new word. In this case, "electronic" and "mail." Ergo, e-mail.

    Hmmm. Let's see: A keeper of books can be referred to as a "bookkeeper" and I don't see any hyphenation between the two words.

    Look. There ain't no official RULES for the English language, despite the claims of third-grade English teachers, except "COMMON USAGE." We have no august body of language lawyers to tell us that our language is in jeopardy of being diluted. Look at the period in the first sentence in this paragraph... it lies within the quotes. However, I've seen many people put the period AFTER the quotes... and I don't think that either way is more or less intelligible.

    If they want to hyphenate "email" then let them. They can even put the hyphen after the "a" in the word for all I care.

    If I decide that their usage is unreadable, I'll simply stop reading their silly pronouncements.

  • Lotus notes didn't recognize 'Internet' in my notes before I added it, either...
  • Warning: This post contains a SPOILER, in that the quoted paragraph below is (IMHO) one of the best in the article, and I don't want to ruin the surprise of coming across this gem in your reading of the original article...
    • These are fingernails-on-the-blackboard words, real shiver-up-the-spine stuff: "functionality," "implementation," "bleeding edge," "leverage," "next-generation," "monetize," "mission critical." You can almost see the language curling into a fetal position to await the deathblow. "Monetize," for crying out loud.
    Anyhow, what does "monetize" mean? Really, I had no idea that it was even a pretend-word..

    Alex Bischoff

  • The MLA [mla.org] (which maintains a widely used standard for journalists and writers) says it's "e-mail". At least, that's what they use on their website, and you'd hope they'd practice internal consistency - anyone have a copy of the Guide to reference?.

  • by Private Essayist ( 230922 ) on Monday October 23, 2000 @04:39AM (#684082)
    By now, it should be 'email.' This follows standard English usage which puts a hyphen between compound words at first. After this compound word gets used for a while, and society gets used to it, the hyphen gets dropped.

    The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Ed., on p. 203, says:

    "A closed (or solid) compound is a combination of two or more elements, originally separate words, now spelled as one word. Examples: henhouse, typesetting, makeup, notebook."

    Thus 'typesetting' probably began as 'type setting', and then moved to 'type-setting', and finally became 'typesetting.'

    The path for 'email' was 'electronic mail', 'electronic-mail', 'e-mail', and finally 'email'.

    One rule, when in doubt, is to check an unabridged (recent) dictionary. If a word has progressed to the closed compound stage, it will be in the dictionary without the hyphen, and that would mean it is now valid to use it that way.

  • by Tet ( 2721 ) <slashdot AT astradyne DOT co DOT uk> on Monday October 23, 2000 @04:40AM (#684084) Homepage Journal
    It's a common word now, and it wasn't electronic-mail to begin with.

    Precisely. It was never "electronic-mail", although it was once "electronic mail". Wired News, according to the article, didn't even appear until 1996. I'd already been using email (without a hyphen) for nearly a decade by then. A brief look at history would have told them that it was only marketing departments that ever used e-mail. The rest of us were quite happily communicating using email...

    ObPedant: Of course, it should probably be "e'mail" if we're being picky about it...

  • That was way back in the seventies, then?
  • One, who cares, and two, the article didn't mention the gov't considering this at all. It was a 3 page article on a desicion they made internally as to the style of thier articles. Now i'm left why this article was even published, let alone posted on slashdot.
  • by orabidoo ( 9806 ) on Monday October 23, 2000 @04:43AM (#684095) Homepage
    just call it enamel!
  • by CharlieG ( 34950 ) on Monday October 23, 2000 @04:44AM (#684097) Homepage
    Isn't it a tad ironic, that the hyperlinks at the end of the article say


  • Lets see. I can pull out my dictionary and find a slew of word combinations that aren't hyphenated such as handcart, handlebar, textbook, schoolmate. This would seem to fly in the face of the editor's claim that these should remain hyphenated.

    We had this same debate at my company a while back and all of the business types chose e-mail, and all of the geek types chose email. That should tell you something.
  • Back at CKS Partners, we had a battle waging for years as to whether the company should standardize on 'web site' or 'website'. Seriously, it was worse than 'gif vs gif'.

    What do you think?

    Oh, and email, definitely. After all, people use voicemail more often than voice-mail, and just because electronicmail is more ungainly than electronic-mail doesn't mean we should keep the hyphen when it's reduced.

    Kevin Fox
  • You send some mail, or you send three messages.
  • Wired doesn't hyphenate "E-mail" in the footers following their articles. HEH.
  • by DeadSea ( 69598 ) on Monday October 23, 2000 @05:08AM (#684120) Homepage Journal
    The proper way to spell a word is the way most people spell it. Language is governed by usage. If two spellings of a word are popular, both should probably be included in the dictionary. Your favorite search engine will tell you which spelling is more popular.
    I use Google.

    email [google.com] - 55,000,000 pages.
    e-mail [google.com] - 3,560,000 pages.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN