As new forms of digital, or electronic, commerce and communication take root in our lives, so has the syntax that evolves to help us interact with one another.

The Oxford dictionary does not have a policy on e-words. It does, however, show the e-prefix denoting the use of electronic data transfer through the internet.

E-mail started in 1965 as a way for multiple users of a time-sharing mainframe computer to communicate. E-mail was quickly extended to become network e-mail, allowing users to pass messages between different computers by at least 1966.

Other findings and polls taken over the last 10 years seem to support the hyphenated version, or e-mail, while some authorities claim the email version as most suitable.

A 1995 search on about 40 million words of Usenet news articles, counted the following forms:

email 19371
e-mail 15359
E-mail 7572
Email 5906
E-MAIL 3659
E-Mail 2986
EMAIL 1269
EMail 521
eMail 303
e-Mail 42

Total without hyphen: 27378
Total with hyphen: 29622

In yet another study, articles posted to alt.usage.englishbetween mid-May and mid-September 1995, found 604 instances of"e-mail" and 235 of "email".

Many dictionaries favour "E-mail", which can be justified by analogy with such forms as "A-bomb", "C-section", and "G-string".

The "other" G-String

1 comment:

George Parker said...

Remember how for years all IBM's ads were about e-stuff. Now for some strange reason, it's all about i-stuff. Maybe they're working there way through the aphabet!