Re: e-mail or email

Subject: Re: e-mail or email
From: "L. Burnham O'Donald" <lodonald -at- PRIMENET -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 11:29:04 -0400

Ella M. Beale Peacock wrote:

> According to pg 18, RFC1983, Internet Glossary, published by the
> Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), April 1996. Correct form would
> be "email" unless starting a sentence then would be Sentence case as in:
> Email is a system that computer users for messaging.

> The Internet Glossary's url is

Many thanks to Ella for pointing out the URL for the IETF's most
excellent glossary; it's immediately useful, I've been finding.

Nonetheless, I'm not sure I'd rely on the IETF for _all_ matters of
usage; look how they spell "acknowledgment" <g> [with that internal "e";
true, it's an accepted second spelling but I'll stick with the first
accepted spelling].

Also, this is interesting: I note that IETF credits the National Science
Foundation's Network Service Center as the source of the info about
"email". I went to the NNSC site (if it can be called that; looked
strange to me) and what do you suppose I found? Yup, "e-mail" with a

On a related thread (or continuation), there has also been discussion
about the "resistance" to using this word without a hyphen. Don't know
that I'd call it resistance so much as the need (nay, desparate desire)
to be consistent in the face of so much constant upheaval with incoming
words to our vocabulary. Personally, if somebody (a client; a usage
maven) decided tomorrow that "email" was the way to go, I'd have no
problems with it. Right now, my clients are all using "e-mail".

I certainly have no proof of or research on this but suspect the hyphen
originally popped up to more strongly emphasize the "e" part of this
word; Internet and modem are more equally weighted in terms of the new
word combining parts of other words, whereas e-mail has only the one
letter coming in from "electronic." Just a mild (wild?) guess. Over
time, as with so much else, the hyphen may well go by the wayside.

Now, if only I can figure out what to do with those people who insist on
making "home page" one word .....

Louise O'Donald
lodonald -at- primenet -dot- com

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