email v. e-mail

Subject: email v. e-mail
From: Tom Tadfor Little <tlittle -at- LANL -dot- GOV>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 1995 12:25:55 -0700

Richard Mateosian writes (regarding pronunciation of email)

|Scanning quickly through the "ema" words in my 10th Collegiate, I find:
|emaciate, emancipate, emarginate, emasculate, which start about like email
|when I pronounce them. The exception in that group is emanate.

|Further down the alphabet you'll find emotion and emu. I'm not going to do a
|lengthy study of this, but to my mind the pronunciation argument against
|email is pretty weak. ...RM

That's quite right. The closest thing to a pronunciation "rule" for vowel
length in English is that you divide the word into syllables (single
consonants between vowels go with the following syllable by default), then
vowels that end syllables are long. So you would expect the "e" in "email"
to be long.

I agree with Richard that the only purpose served by the hyphen in this
word is to mark it as some sort of oddity that requires apology every time
it's used. The hyphen says, "I know this isn't a _real_ word, but please
forgive me as I use it anyway". Let's ditch the fussiness and just write
it as the unremarkable permanent compound it is: "email".

Tom Tadfor Little tlittle -at- lanl -dot- gov -or- telp -at- Rt66 -dot- com
technical writer/editor Los Alamos National Laboratory

Visit Telperion Productions on the web at

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