Date: Tue, 16 Jan 1996 16:59:56 +0000
From: "C.M.Thomas" EGP95CMT[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]SHEFFIELD.AC.UK
Subject: Re: an E-mail
Some time ago we had a thread going about "an E-mail" vs. constructions like
"an E-mail message." At the time I swore I'd never heard "an E-mail" used
by itself, but since then I've heard it countless times. Since I haven't
maintained any data on the usage of the expression, either before or
since, I can't know for sure whether a) I'm noticing it because I'm more
aware of it now, or b) the usage is actually becoming more prevalent
in my speech community (I now hear "an E-mail" many times for every time
I hear "an E-mail message").
However, I have noticed one thing about it that seems interesting to me: from
what I've observed informally, those who use "an E-mail message" or a similar
construction tend to be heavily involved with computers either in their
employment or through surfing the net, and those who use "an E-mail" tend
to be either computer outsiders or very casual users only.
Has anyone else noticed a similar distribution?
I can't say that I've noticed the distribution you mention, although
I haven't listened out for it. I generally hear people talking about
simply an "email", and I certainly use this term myself as opposed to
the "email message" option. However, when I am communicating with
a friend via email, and know that I will be receiving my next contact
from them through email, I just use the term "mail" , as in "Mail me
soon". I do this as it's quicker to write, I think. There is no confusion here
about whether I mean snail mail (incidentally, how long has the term
"snail mail" been around for, as I think it's quite cute!?) or email due
to our channel of communication. Or at least no one has ever shown
signs of confusion when I've used it!
Charlotte Thomas EGP95CMT[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]Sheffield.ac.uk
Dept. of English Language and Linguistics
University of Sheffield