“If This Be Email”…!

I have a lot to say about this…and maybe I’ve said a lot about it before…but I’ve always found the construction “e-mail” intolerably complicated.  It is not so much the act of making the hyphen go in there, but the whole way of thinking that insists on the hyphen.  I mean, how come this hyphen?  Just to be all “e”?  I dunno, something about it offends me, there is something about it like genuflection.  I can’t stand it, and I won’t.

So, for the last few years, I haven’t:  I’ve said “email” instead.  But this is really no better, because it makes me feel loike I’m stupidly misspelling the name “Emile”.

And so here it is:  do it our way, or do it some other way that is just as annoying.  This is how engineers design.  I do not mean to harp to much on the foibles of engineers, mind you — I have nothing at all against engineers, if the truth be told, except that they only ever offer me a wrong way, and demand that I get used to it or endure a worse way.  And I’m well aware that this is not because they are bad people, but only because my ways differ from their ways, what they find useful is not what I find useful, it is simply a matter of subjective values.


I’m using “@”, from now on, as the mark in place of both the hated “e-mail” and the ugly “email”.  And this may cause some confusion on Twitter or elsewhere, doubtless elsewhere as “@” gets used for more and more things, but I say this to you all in complete seriousness, that FUCK IT IF I AM WRITING EITHER “E-MAIL” OR “EMAIL” EVER AGAIN IF I DON”T ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO FOR REASONS OF ABSOLUTELY PRECISE CLARITY!  Which may be one of my core values but which is definitely not one of the core values of software engineers.  Christ, the system of machine-beeps that regulates our lives in the home and workplace doesn’t have any regulation either, but at least the beep-people of major manufacturing corporations give a damn about the magic principle of clarity, which to them simply equals minimum fucking fuss, and lack of confusion!  So I can deal with them…!

But with the grotesquerie known as “e-mail” I cannot deal.  A joke’s a joke, fellas, but this one’s gone too far.  And I am not only NOT typing that hyphen anymore, but I’m not typing the absence of the hyphen either.  The whole thing’s an assault on language.  Why if the Beep People ran their show like that, they’d be fired out a torpedo tube.


So if anyone has trouble understanding what I’m saying from now on, well at least I don’t have any trouble understanding what I’m fucking typing, and I’ll take that trade-off.

Therefore it’s “@” from now on.  Sorry.


But man, you can’t believe for how long that has gotten my goat.

Anyway it’s over now!


7 responses to ““If This Be Email”…!

  1. If you want to know what I can possibly have to say about it that counts as “more”…well, you will only have to wait a little while longer, I think.

  2. I prefer “e-mail” to “email”, and continue to type it that way even though I keep reading that I shouldn’t. What do you think of “e mail”?

    The normal linguistic progression seems to be that formations like this start as separate words, then become hyphenated, and finally become a single word. It’s happened before:

    base ball -> base-ball -> baseball
    super hero -> super-hero -> superhero

    but I wonder why we haven’t had

    comic book -> comic-book -> comicbook

    although I suppose “funnybook” did go through just that process.

    All of which means that I think we’re going to be stuck with “email”.

  3. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll start using your “@”… well, sometimes… how do you pronounce it, anyway? “At”? “E-mail”?…

    …if you’ll start using the phrase “smooth as pajamas” to refer to anything that is literally or figuratively smooth. (I invented it during a game of “Apples to Apples” with my relatives and formed the ambition of inserting it into the language.)

  4. I don’t know if I’ve created a monster or if my saying on twitter that one day why I prefer “e-mail”, which seemed to lead to some of this thinking from you, was only coincidental. Or not. So maybe I’m the one who should be sorry ;)

  5. Matthew: I think Stan Lee insists on “comicbook,” or at least he used to in the Stan’s Soapbox days. I believe his reasoning is that (to him, at least) a “comic book” implies a book that is comical, whereas one word unhypenated suggests a seperate *thing*.

    Pillock: So do you think we can’t get away with calling it just “mail” yet? I know in theory it confuses electronic mail with mail sent via a postal service…but does it? In my head, at least, if I sent you a letter or a package, I wouldn’t say “I sent you some mail,” I’d say “I sent you a letter” or “I sent you a package.”

    Although a problem’s just occured to me: “some mail.” Nobody bats an eye at “I sent you an e-mail,” but “I sent you a mail” sounds like…LOLcats?

    Hey, so does one send “a @” or “an @”?

  6. Matthew: Deal!

    Holly: Well, it was bugging me for a while anyway…but yes, if there’s blame to be doled out…

    And, Justin: Well, that’s exactly the thing, right? “I sent you a mail” is little-kid language, it’s just the sort of language-use we educate little kids out of…a damn hard thing to ask, then, for us to deliberately employ it while pursuing ease over clarity. That’s only one the reasons why “e-mail” is such a dead, dead fish of a word — it’s stopping up the drain of language-change, too, as well as being ugly as sin. A letter is absolutely what you get sent by mail, I always feel funny trying to get away with calling an @ a letter…

    (…Note it’s “an @”, and yet in regular speech you wouldn’t say “I sent you an at” either, because it’s kinda unintelligible speech…)

    …Obviously, because it isn’t one, anymore than an @ is a package. It’d be like saying “I sent you a parcel” when what you really sent was a birthday card.

    What a mess!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s