Date: Tue, 8 Aug 1995 11:48:40 EDT


Subject: Keep those e-mails coming in (interim report)

I thought I'd collect a few more intuitions before reporting them to the Times

(again, for anyone who needs to be urged, you can participate in the survey or

"e-mail contest", as they call it, by writing directing to them at

mediabiz[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] So far, the majority shares my conservative dialect in

which e-mail is a mass noun or verb but not a count noun. (Incidentally, in

response to Bethany and I think someone else, I'd argue that in "an e-mail

message", 'e-mail' is not an adjective but a noun within a noun-noun compound,

exactly as 'water' in "water torture" or 'milk' in "a milk bath". There's

little evidence if any that such modifiers are adjectives, although they cer-

tainly share semantic and syntactic properties with adjectives. But then so

do PPs as in "an in-your-face response". Pre-nominal modifer, si; adjective,

no.) There are several respondents who do use 'e-mail' as a count noun, in-

cluding one who uses it as such in the singular only. (Creeping counthood.)