RISKS-LIST: Risks-Forum Digest Monday 1 April 1996 Volume 17 : Issue 95
FORUM ON RISKS TO THE PUBLIC IN COMPUTERS AND RELATED SYSTEMS (comp.risks)
ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy, Peter G. Neumann, moderator
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 12:00:00 PST
From: Neumann@CSL.sri.com (Peter G. Neumann)
Subject: A note on E-mail, e-mail, and email [slightly e-mended]
The Hyphenater's Handbook (or The Hyphen-Haters Handbook?)
Chapter excerpt, "e is for electronic" -- Copyright, Peter G. Neumann, 1996
Up until last year, I have used the term "E-mail" in RISKS to denote "electronic mail". I would like to be able to let the letter of an acronym reflect the upper- or lower-case appearance of the word or term it denotes (as in "DoD"), and to separate acronyms and text with a hyphen in hybrid representations (as in "e-mail"). However, lower-case acronyms that mimic natural linguistic expressions (such as "ram" and "pin") thereby become confusing, while upper-case acronyms beg for lower-case plurals to distinguish them from the final S as an acronym (as in HTTPs versus HTTPS). [Added note: the use of an apostrophe to pluralize an acronym seems to be very bad usage.] We also must live with multiple meanings (as in MAC, not to mention Mac, Macs, MACs, and MACS). Thus, there seems to be no easy algorithm that is also sensible. So great care is required in choosing risk-free acronyms.
This note is a discourse on why the hyphen is desirable for disambiguation, although it is clearly anathema to hyphen-haters. Two representations are given -- one without hyphens ("NO-"), and one with hyphens ("YES-"). Some suggestive interpretations of the latter are included [with occasional retrointerpretations of the former in square brackets].
NO- YES- Interpretation --------- ---------- -------------- eat e-at The "@" symbol [which causes many programs to choke] educe e-duce The tyrannical leader of a moderated e-mail newsgroup egad e-gad 1. An electronic crowbar used to disrupt systems; 2. To surf the net nonspecifically (to e-gad about); 3. A mild e-mail oath. egest e-gest An electronic adventure or exploit [well discharged] ego e-go To initiate or restart a program [especially if self-validating] egrep e-grep A command to search for a given string expression [note the ambiguity between grep and egrep] elan e-lan An electronic local-area network [*elan* suggests *dash*, not *hyphen*!] [NOTE: *** dash = "--" or "---", not "-" ***] elan vital e-lan vital After Bergson, the vital force immanent in or at least desirable in, local-area networks. elapse e-lapse An omission in an electronic communication elate e-late Relating to delayed electronic operations elater e-later Lazy evaluation, as in a c-u-e-later allocator [click-beetle used to cue next slide (very obscure)] election e-lection An altered electronic version of text [particularly for voting data] elicit e-licit Legal, as in a valid argument or nonrepudiatable message elite e-lite Optimized version -- e.g., a starkly compressed e-mail message, or a minimum-toehold process elocution e-locution Peculiar expression that results from use of spelling and grammar checkers email e-mail Electronic mail [Distinguishing itself from every other term on this list, the unhyphenated version has no natural meaning whatever, but spelling checkers might suggest Emile or Ismail.] [*** NOTE the note from Peter Ladkin below.***] emend e-mend To make a hex or binary patch emerge e-merge To combine different input streams emigrate e-migrate To move electrons externally emission e-mission Sometimes known as a C4I task emu e-mu Electronic microunit [found mainly in crossword puzzles] enfold e-n-fold Replicated *n* times electronically [SEE FOOTNOTE below] enucleate e-nucleate To cluster disparate data [or to remove the kernel!] enumerate e-numerate Someone who is literate about computer representations epact e-pact An agreement on programs for leap-year adjustments [Note: the epact is the excess of the solar year over the lunar year.] equality e-quality A property of a computer system or network equip e-quip Humor embedded in e-mail erector e-rector The head of a remote-access university escarp e-scarp The protected side of a firewall [This is a case in which the e is gratuitous, as in estop, enow, and the next example.] especial e-special An anomalous event of some particular interest estray e-stray Random electromagnetic interference estrange e-strange An anomalous output or internal state eta e-ta An abbreviated e-mail goodbye (ttfn)[ta ta for now] evaluate e-valuate To assess an electronic system evanesce e-vanesce What 18,000 votes did in Sarasota in 2006, and what 10,000 votes did in Sarasota in 2008 [The previous line was added here in 2008.] event e-vent An air-conditioning duct for a computer system every e-very A technocomparative term evocation e-vocation Job of someone who works with computers evolute e-volute A system with a resilient spiral shell structure eyes e-yes ACK! or positive acknowledgment [the eyes have it] VIRTUAL REALITY TERMS: eastern e-astern The virtual view to the rear Eden E-den A virtual retreat [e.g., a paradise] edentate e-dentate Using a tooth-valued logic [toothless projective logics include and-eaters] elope e-lope A fast gait experienced in virtual reality emir e-mir A feeling of peacefulness, resulting from use of a Russian VR program [Eastern potentates like it] emotion e-motion Screen dither epic e-pic A digital image such as a .gif file [classical!] eryngo e-ryngo Electronic drummer [obscure: with aphroditic rhythms resulting in candid C-HOL-ly root privileges!] escape e-scape A virtual view [particularly, an elusion or avoidance] evert e-vert A background shade of green on video screens [particularly confusing while viewing tennis matches at Chrissie Field in San Francisco] eyewash e-yew-ash A logical grafting of two different tree structures ewig e-wig Computerized enhancement of a balding image [German: *ewig* = eternal]FOOTNOTE on e-n-fold: Prefixing *n* as an index clearly needs a hyphen, as the following examples illustrate:
nacre n-acre An n-acre oyster bed [whose mother was Pearl?] nark n-ark An n-ark fleet of drug-enforcement agents narrow n-arrow An n-arrow quiver [narrow with n=1] nascent n-ascent An n-ascent astronaut [nascent only if n=0] near n-ear An n-ear audience; n need not be an even integer; someone could be listening with half an ear. neon n-eon Referring to multiple eons [a glowing sign of the times]Using other symbols as indices also suggests further examples, such as an i-rate mortgage lender or an i-deal N-antes French card game. Other cases are left as an exercise for the reader. PGN
[I might add the need to disambiguate between various interpetations
of strung-out adjectival nouns and nounal adjectives:
key recovery concepts (the essence) versus key-recovery concepts
third party poopers (repeat offenders) versus third-party poopers (who get someone else to stand in for them)
Subsequently added note:
SRI offers certified massage therapists during working hours.
Denine Dube specializes in ``table massage''. One wonders whether she massages tables?
Debbie Carpentar specializes in ''table sports massage''. The most popular table sports I can think of are ping-pong and pool. One wonders whether Debbie does her massages on one of those tables, or whether she specializes in treating ping-pong and pool players?
Incidentally, "email" is of course a perfectly good French word. This was noted in RISKS-19.96 by Peter Ladkin:
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 22:31:27 +0200 From: ladkin@TechFak.Uni-Bielefeld.DE Subject: Eglitch in RISKS-17.95 Our immoderate moderator said >email e-mail Electronic mail [Distinguishing itself from every > other term on this list, the unhyphenated version > has no natural meaning whatever ...] I conclude the meanings of Email (German) and e'mail (French) [lacquered] are unnatural. Our moderator may consider himself lacquered. Es ist aber mir.. NO- YES- Interpretation egal e-gal It bothers me a whole lot electronically. Peter Ladkin [Peter, I am glad you are enameled with German and French (sorry; that is a Chinese pun). You must belong to the e-galite' sororite'? PGN] [The French was also noted by Bertrand Meyer==========================================================
. The German is of course borrowed from the French. I knew that, but was carefully distinguishing Email and e'mail from email in noting the lack of (strict) misinterpretations for ``email''. PGN]
Jon David offered this pithy thought:
If someone is able to predict what sort of pastries are in the bakery box, would he be considered an eclairvoyant?
So, if it could be done over the Internet, he would be e-clairvoyant as well!
Cliff Berg suggested another one:
etching e-tching Modern-day I-Ching adherent wearing fresh wool. German: Ätzen (one at peace with the wool).Also, "email" indeed means enamel in German. But it seems that the word "lacquer" comes from the Portugese /lacré./
[Muito obrigado! PGN]
The Risks Forum has occasional examples of run-on domain names that create ambiguity, such as in RISKS-22.81 and 82: www.powergenitalia.com instead of powergen-italia.com; and RISKS-22.83: www.WhoRepresents.com (which could be read as www.WhorePresents.com) and ExpertsExchange.com (versus ExpertSexChange.com).
One other hyphenation-related item needs to be noted here: ambiguated hyphenation across line breaks. Here are just a few examples,
(an Italian pi-pe-li-ne computer?)