Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

Stupidity? There’s an AP for that.

The Associated Press made an announcement at the ACES2011 conference on Friday: “e-mail” will now be spelled “email.”

This is wrong in 27 different ways, but let’s just talk about the biggest one: the “e” stands for “electronic.” So not only is it grammatical and logically wrong to suddenly get rid of the hypen, it actually changes the word completely. It could even lead to people pronouncing the word wrong. Now, of course, people know what e-mail is even if it’s spelled “email,” but someone – it might have been Andy Rooney – said several years ago that if you take out the hypen, it becomes “ehmail.” Will anyone pronounce it that way? No. But that’s not the point. “E-mail” is a perfectly good word, and a perfectly good word that didn’t need any sort of “updating.”

What’s most baffling about this decision is that they made a point of saying that words like “e-book” and “e-commerce” will remain the same. And to that I ask, “why?” If you’re going to admit that the “e” at the start of these words stands for “electronic,” then you’ve just killed the reason why you’re changing the word “e-mail.” If you’re going to change “e-mail,” then the other words should be spelled “ebook” and “ecommerce.”

It would still be wrong, but at least it would be wrong consistently.

I’m going to keep spelling it with the “e-,” which probably means that I’ll never work for the AP. I can just imagine sitting at my desk, writing a story about some new web service or new spam-fighting software and having to type the word “email.” I don’t think I could do it. I would probably stand up from my desk, storm into my supervisor’s office, and announce with a passion that I was quitting because I had integrity and couldn’t bring myself to writing something that I didn’t believe in*.

* Of course, this could change, depending on how much money I was being paid by the AP.

2 thoughts on “Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

  1. Bob – I agree whole-heartedly that h-phens used or de-leted in-appropriately is a problem, the punctuation version of using “their” instead of “his” when one needs a first person pronoun but is scarred of being politically incorrect. The first goal of language should always be to communicate ideas clearly. Whatever person came up with this idea . . . well . . . I hope ‘their’ conscious is clean. If not, they can ehmail me or post it on their face-book wall.

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