e-mail ! ; the last word? I doubt it...

Subject: e-mail ! ; the last word? I doubt it...
From: Al Rubottom <alrub -at- INETWORLD -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 1 May 1997 18:29:25 -0700

All other relevant and/or irrelevant arguments & points
notwithstanding [or in-sub-sitting?], the germane point here is:

e-mail, like its parallel forms e-commerce [for electronic
commerce], e-pubs [for electronic publications], and e-forms
[for electronic forms], not to mention other analagous coinages
being made daily no doubt by jargon-happy marketing or
tech writers somewhere!, derives from a noun phrase
[NOT an abbreviation] in which the first noun gets used
attributively [or functions as an adjective]. Simple logic,
simple sense, we all do it all the time in speech, we all
observe the generalized fuzzy-logic-like rules of English,
or American technology-prone English at any rate, in
recognizing the instantly, intuitively understandable
NP [noun phrase] form. No mystery here.

Over time many, most or all such forms, depending on
various usage factors and idiosyncratic language behaviors,
assimilate into the shortest acceptable form, i.e., that which
gets the job in the shortest [phonetically and/or orthographically]
space/time. Thus, the "logic" in favor of email over e-mail
seems unstoppable ... and in fact is unstoppable 'cuz usage
obeys no logic, it just happens. Thus more and more users
say or write "email" as a noun, verb, adjective, or whatever,
and the rest of us have to follow. BUT you can still exercise
good sense!

Will we see epubs over e-pubs, ecommerce over e-commerce,
and so on? I think not, because the hyphenation preserves the
critical distinction of the "e" representing "electronic" even when
reduced to a single-letter morpheme, single-syllable phoneme,
nay, a single-character meme!

That's what is really at issue... but since more people will use
email as a new word and a new tool than any other single net-borne
convenience, and most will not meet or need to know about those
other e-conjunctions, we diehards will be flattened by the juggernaut
of sheer usage momentum. But it still don't make it right!

Cunning linguist that I once was but am no longer,
mutatis mutandis

Al Rubottom /\ alrubottom -at- bigfoot -dot- com
tel: 619.292.9998 /\ fax: 619.541.2260

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