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Thread: E-mail

  1. #1
    JohnMelissa is offline Newbie
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    The U.S. Postal Service delivers mail that consists of letters. Why do Internet users send e-mails and not e-letters in their e-mail? How is it ever correct to make mail plural using an s? Whoever approved this absolutely ridiculous usage should have their literary license revoked.

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    Default Re: E-mail

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMelissa View Post
    The U.S. Postal Service delivers mail that consists of letters. Why do Internet users send e-mails and not e-letters in their e-mail? How is it ever correct to make mail plural using an s? Whoever approved this absolutely ridiculous usage should have their literary license revoked.
    A letter, according to the dictionary, is:-

    "a written or printed communication addressed to a person or organization and usually transmitted by mail."

    basically, a letter involves paper, ink, and a postman.

    Email has no paper, no ink, and no postman so it is a completely different animal with very little analogy to snail-mail.

  3. #3
    JohnMelissa is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: E-mail

    In my discussion of electronic mail, I was referring to the plural. If we don't make mail plural by adding an s, we can't make e-mail plural by the same method. The plural of mail is mail. It is collective. The plural of letter is letters. Ergo, the correct usage is e-mail and an e-letter or e-letters. It is patently wrong to make e-mails a substitute for e-letters. Do you believe it is possible to write an e-mail or do we write e-letters? I attempted to draw an illustration using the U.S. Postal Service example of a mail stream that is comprised of letters.

    Opinion?

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    Default Re: E-mail

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMelissa View Post
    In my discussion of electronic mail, I was referring to the plural. If we don't make mail plural by adding an s, we can't make e-mail plural by the same method. The plural of mail is mail. It is collective. The plural of letter is letters. Ergo, the correct usage is e-mail and an e-letter or e-letters. It is patently wrong to make e-mails a substitute for e-letters. Do you believe it is possible to write an e-mail or do we write e-letters? I attempted to draw an illustration using the U.S. Postal Service example of a mail stream that is comprised of letters.

    Opinion?
    We don't use the same method because 'email' and 'mail' are different words backed by different concepts. Why should we treat them in the same way?

    The word 'e-letter' simply doesn't exist and has no part in the discussion.

    There is nothing wrong in the way we use 'email', compare it with 'call' used for a telephone conversation

    send an email
    send some emails
    email me

    make a call
    make some calls
    call me


    BTW, the plural of mail is not mail. Mail is uncountable and has no plural - you don't receive one mail or two mail.

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: E-mail

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMelissa View Post
    If we don't make mail plural by adding an s, we can't make e-mail plural by the same method.
    Language changes and adapts to suit the needs of users and nothing is written in stone. With technology, very fast changes are required and these will often steamroller over previous grammatical traditions. I don't think it is patently wrong for a new form of communication to take words from an older form and then adapt them to fit the technology. Few people quibble the use of 'Cc' in emails, though there is no 'carbon copy' at all. This strikes me as the same process.

    A few decades ago, people were arguing that 'television' was the wrong word because it mixed Latin and Greek, but their alternatives failed to catch on and I haven't heard anyone complaining for a very long time. Email doesn't behave the same way as mail, so why should the word?

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