Date: Tue, 16 Jan 1996 16:59:56 +0000


Subject: Re: an E-mail

Bruce writes:

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!


Snail mail:


Dept. of English Language and Linguistics

University of Sheffield