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Eeee!

Q
When do "Web site" and "e-mail" get to come into their own and be accepted as "website" and "email"?


A
Many (most?) people think that has already happened. Many of those same people, of course, spell "your" as "ur." Established publications edited by grown-ups, however, are holding the line. I have written extensively about the factors that make this more complicated than, say, "ship wreck" morphing into "shipwreck," but here's a fresh version of the manifesto:

Compound nouns do tend to go from separate to joined, often (though not so often anymore) with a hyphen stage. The problem with "e-mail" is that it's not a simple compound noun. It's an initial-letter-based abbreviation, and no initial-letter-based abbreviation in the history of the English language has ever morphed into a solid word. The "e" isn't simply a syllable -- it's the letter e, for Chrissakes, like the X in "X-ray." Nobody lives in an "aframe," nobody drives a "zcar," and you will find no example parallel to the illiteracism "email." "Email" (the French word for "enamel," by the way) divorces the e, ee, eee! so that the first syllable begs to be a schwa sound. Uhmail. Uh.

The word "website" is closer to being acceptable, and in fact at least one hugely respected authority, Bryan A. Garner, has endorsed it, dismissing "Web site" as "a clunker." I, of course, respectfully disagree. There is a pronunciation problem here, too ("website," to me, begs to be pronounced "WEBzit"), but the main issue is that "site" is not a suffix. It's also not a word that necessarily forms an attraction to its mate: "Grave site" has been around a lot longer than "Web site," and it's still two words in most dictionaries. I approve of "webcast" and "webmaster" and "webby" and other words in which what is married to "web-" is a suffix of sorts. And I approve of lowercasing the legitimate one-word forms because that's just the way things are done -- a man in Congress is a congressman, etc. Otherwise, though, "Web" is up -- it's short for World Wide Web.




Now what?

Move on to WHAT ARE YOU IMPLYING I IMPLIED?

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