Thursday, May 03, 2007

Hyphen, Meet Your Enemy

The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar believes the Internet makes it way too easy for people with outsized pet peeves to create, well, societies.

To wit, the yahoos at the Email [sic] Experience Council want to do away with the hyphen in e-mail. They argue that the hyphen is "disrespectful":
Students of language know that as new terms become accepted by the mainstream they evolve into shorter words, single words and shed their capitalization and hyphenation. Words like "Web site" and "on-line" have over time have become "website" and "online" as people became more comfortable with them. "Electronic mail" has followed a similar acceptance arc, becoming "E-mail" and then "e-mail."

It's now time for "the word" to take its final step and become simply "email," signifying the ubiquity of this form of communication, which is now used by 97% of all consumers and 94% of marketers, according to Forrester Research.

Please join the Email Experience Council in giving this revolutionary communication tool the respect it deserves by pledging to drop the hyphen and spell it simply as "email." (More...)
Poppycock. But don't just take our word for it. To make the case we'll quote the great, curmudgeonly Bill Walsh has to say on the topic in his book, The Elephants of Style:
"It's not email, in case you haven't been paying attention to my vitriol on the subject. (Abbreviated explanation: Words based on single letters have never lost their hyphens, no matter how frequently they're used. It's X-ray, not Xray, T-shirt, not Tshirt, etc.)"
Also, the correct form is still Web site, not Website or website, no matter what the EEC claims. And online with a hyphen was never correct. (Nor is log-in when used as a verb, an error we see all the time. Yecch.)

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