Fang Talks

17 05 16

Language wars

A video game attorney I follow put out a poll asking which was preferred, “eSports”, “esports” or “e-sports”.

Now that’s something straight out of the future! Sudden realizations aside, I couldn’t help but notice how it’s vaguely similar to the “email”, “e-mail” thing. “Mail” also works fine these days though, assuming the context clears any ambiguity up. So what gives, have we just not settled on a standard after all these years? Sort of not. I looked it up, “email” is considered the most common use and appears in dictionaries, where the dash only being added most frequently in published English works.

It started as “electronic mail”, a whole mouthful which people had to come up with shorthands for. (Data was expensive back in the day, shortening words things was a necessity of course. (Yes, joke.)) Exact first uses can’t be pinned down, but I can imagine a couple of old-school nerdy types duking it out over the best form of the shortened word. And I guess that’s the kind of war that both births and destroys language?

I wonder how many of such battles are being fought today, people unknowingly divided into armies, armed with their preferred form of a word or phrase. Is that how languages evolve, big enough groups of people saying “nah this way makes more sense, is easier, whatever”?

Someone should make an app for people to more actively participate in this, keep track of stats, etc.
~ Fang


  • 18/05/2016 (3:33 AM)

    I have always said “email” but recently read that “email” was just becoming acceptable (as opposed to “e-mail”).

    I had no idea! I had written it as email since I was a kid.

    Of course, if you’re over the age of 45, the proper term is “THE email.” As in “I got on the e-mail today and I read…”

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