Re: First known use of the word, "email" (1978)

From: Philippe Verdy <>
Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2012 04:39:44 +0100

On Tue, Nov 27, 2012 at 5:53 AM, Clive Hohberger <> wrote:
> BTW, the routine capitalization of 'E' in E-mail came in the 1990's from
> William Safire's "On Language" column in the NY Times newspaper: He made
> analogy with "T-shirt"

Is this capitalisation of "T-shirt" mandatory ? (of course the shape of the
letter recalls the shape of the suit) I've seen frequently "t-shirt"
(sometimes "tee-shirt" as well) when the term was lexicalized, with a clear
pronunciation and understanding by itself, without reference to the shape
of the letter (which is not always the actual shape of the suit).

The lexicalization make the capitalization no longer necessary for
understanding. The same is true for "E-mail" and it's normal to adopt then
the normal capitalization.

The same phenomenum occurs when abbreviations become acronyms (not spelled
letter by letter) : letters after the initial are frequently written in
lowercase (e.g. in French "Insee" instead of "INSEE") and even the first
initial may become lowercase by the lexicalisation process (e.g. in French
where the recent "PACS" abbreviation was rapidly changed to an acronym
"Pacs", and lexicalized as the common noun "pacs", with derived terms : all
conjugated forms of the regular 1st group verb "pacser").
Received on Tue Nov 27 2012 - 21:41:58 CST

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