Re: ... (and e-mail/email)

Subject: Re: ... (and e-mail/email)
From: wburns -at- MICRON -dot- COM
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 1995 15:06:16 MDT

Mike Huber (I think) quickly withdrew his argument about using writing E-mail
based on it's phonetic disparity with other combinations of morphemes in

Don't withdraw it just yet. The examples cited by Richard aren't quite
parallel (with the exception of emu--itself a borrowed word from natives of
Bandu according to OED, so it's not quite in the same morphemic category).
The other examples have a low front vowel sound as an unstressed word-initial
syllable, and they have this sound only in some dialects of English. (Some
dialects use a middle vowel in the same environment.) With E-mail, the
word-initial syllable is a stressed, low front vowel, so morphemically, there
is justification for considering it different from emancipate, emarginate,
and most other words with similar spellings. Other English words that have a
stressed word-initial syllable use a middle vowel, a low middle vowel, or a
high vowel (animosity, apex, intimate, emirate, emmisary, entymology). These
terms have different morphemic rules governing their pronunciation.

Whether or not it's correct usage to hyphenate E-mail, not hyphenate it, or
capitalize it depends strictly on its conventional usage. Presently, the
tide seems to be going in favor of "email," but we're still early in the
game. I prefer E-mail simply because it retains a distinction between the
original elements of the term and it treats the initial element (the E)
consistently in comparison to other initialisms. It also retains its
metaphoric quality. For many people, the metaphor "electronic mail" has some
descriptive value. Once the term becomes universal (i.e., once the metaphor
diminishes or loses its metaphoric quality), then retaining the hyphen and
capitalizing the E will be pointless.

Of course, these justifications are pointless if common usage favors one form
over others (as others have noted concerning the perpetually annoying
gender-specific pronoun usage issue). When I see one form take clear
precedence over the others, I'll stick with that form.

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=====
+ Bill Burns +
+ Assembly Training and Documentation Supervisor +
+ WBURNS -at- MICRON -dot- COM +
From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=====

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