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Will the Internet Be the End of Grammar, Too?
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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E-mail is dead. Long live email.

Or so was the rally cry from the 2010 annual gathering of the American Copy Editors Society last week, as the red Sharpie-toting gaggle had quorum and agreed to screw with every flack who writes for a technology company anywhere in the states.

Among their persnickety changes that will found in the latest edition of the trusty AP Stylebook are:
  • "E-mail" will now be known as "email." More on that one in a skosh. 
  • Remember the city that seemingly Mother Teresa built? It will now be known as "Kolkata," because apparently the locals complained.
  • Do you use a "cell phone" or a "smart phone"? Only if it's one word, you do.
  • Speaking of your "handheld" device, it's a noun and one word. Unless of course you're describing a "smartphone;" then it's an adjective and "hand-held."
I adore writing. I love the English language ever more. However, to hyphenate or not to hyphenate...that's my friggin' question. As it was with many flacks I know when @APStylebook tweeted this deleterious note:

Language evolves. Today we change AP style from e-mail to email, no hyphen. Our editors will announce it at #ACES2011 today

Gasps. Swoons. And a few hurled their dictionaries out of the window. Another year of text lingo and people unable to form coherent sentences goes by, and so we have to stoop to them instead of uphold the standard?

Last year, ACES determined that "website" is one word, but if you are discussing anything else with a Web outside of Spider Man, the word is still capitalized and separated. Great. People were just figuring that out and then the mischievous linguaphiles at the AP decided we needed more challenges.

This year has been mired in a little bit of controversy, namely because everything else with an "e" (e.g. commerce, book, paper) is still hyphenated. You would think with the advent of this small company named Apple and their global domination of the letter "i" that the word "Internet" would be lowercase as well.

So, grammar hounds: riddle me this. If the word is supposed to be "email," then isn't that a problem? The word is a compound noun, since "e" stands for "electronic" as its modifier. Does that mean the next time I talk about a picture I saw on Facebook, I will not be cursed at for saying "epic"?

Just sayin'.


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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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