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February 6, 2013

Deal With That E

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

This is a topic that bugs me, not only as a technology nerd but as a writer. How do you deal with the E, that ever-present E that prefixes technology terms as if English were somehow Hungarian and employed word prefixes. What. The. Heck?

I love my editors. If you’re an author (or writer or whatever), and you enjoy crafting text then you’re going to appreciate the value brought to the end result by a decent editor. Truly, writing is a team sport.

But then there are the owners and managers. In technology publishing, those guys have to craft some sort of consistency around all their products. That effort is what brings the rub into my creative endeavor.

For example, when the Internet first appeared, there was a Great Debate about whether Internet should be capitalized or not. You don’t see the Germans having that debate, because the German language is quite clear about what’s capitalized and what isn’t.

In the end, the assorted Poobahs of the various publishing houses came to a consensus, and today the word Internet is capitalized.

Then came the Web. Or is it the web?

For a long time, it was both. I preferred writing it as Web because I didn’t want my readers to be confused about a spider web (which is not capitalized) and the World Wide Web, which is always capitalized.

Forget for a moment about Charlotte’s Web, which as a title is always capitalized, even though it’s not a technology book.

My publisher dithered. So for a while, you read Web in my books. Then someone from On High changed their mind, and it was written as web. Now I believe it’s back to Web. Why don’t I know, because my editor routinely changes it regardless of what I type.

I recent issue has been with the word E-mail.

Because technology publishing lacks the equivalent of the Académie française, my editors have been in a tizzy!

Is it email? Email? e-mail? E-mail? or one of my personal favorites, eMail?

I’ve had some titles where I had written e-mail and it was changed to email in the following edition and then back to e-mail in subsequent editions.

That’s nuts!

I feel like globally changing the text to read electronic mail just to tick off the Powers That Be, but then that wouldn’t be writing clearly for my audience.

In the book I’m working on now, it’s suddenly dawned on the publisher that something must be done with eBooks. It’s the same dratted E that festers email!

So is it eBooks? E-books? e-books? Ebooks?

Quite honestly, I’m to the point where I’d just go visit the Académie française web site, see how the French do it, and just say Amen!

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