Without rousing much fanfare in global news, the Associated Press has announced the axing of the hyphenated form of the word “e-mail” at the recent annual conference of the American Copy Editors Society, making “email” its accepted term.
The ungainly phrase “electronic mail” has come a long way since the early days of ARPANET, which was the world’s first operational packet switching system and a core component of the early internet. The technology has developed in strides over the years though, having once been a text-only, non- interactive Neanderthal, to the current universal supernova of communication. The cyberspace wildfire has been good for business. In recent times, email marketing has grown from a consumer novelty to a vital lifestyle medium, spawning a whole new language bubble of its own.
Normally, new terms that enter into the mainstream soon evolve into more appetizing words. Dictionaries and language societies have been on a drive to assimilate all this technobabble, once viewed as a foreign tongue, into a form suitable for everyday use. Words like “on-line,” “web-site,” “band-width” and “fire-wall” have been comfortably altered to “online,” “website,” “bandwidth” and “firewall” already.
Now is the time for “e-mail” to take its step into the computer jargon hall of fame by becoming simply “email,” and it is of course up to worldwide users to accept and enforce the new styling preference. At the spearhead of this movement is the Email Experience Council, pushing digital denizens to give their pledge in dropping the hyphen. So far over 190 representatives of major software companies, email marketers and publishers have signed the petition to support this initiative.
The EEC has applauded the Associated Press for its recent decision, and has continued its already successful appeals to the public and to professionals with great excitement. As the number of signees increase, the EEC will be placing more pressure on publishers and dictionaries to join the cause and change the spelling of the word within the frame of their own guidelines. Some of the new “email” acolytes include the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, the American Heritage Dictionary and Princeton University WordNet 3.0, to name a few converts.
So join the revolution. “E-mail” is in the slow and inevitable process of wreathing free of its old skin. The internet is a frontier for new language, and keeping up with change asks of us to say goodbye to “e-mail” and hello to “email”.