To e or not to e

Grant Barrett gbarrett at AMERICANDIALECT.ORG
Fri Apr 21 23:08:28 UTC 2000

On Friday, April 21, 2000, Peter A. McGraw <pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU> wrote:

>"If I think of anything I will e you again."
>Lest you think it was just a typo and the sender absent-mindedly forgot
>type "-mail," the following sentence occurs a little further
>"Feel free to e me."

This is common in the advertising industry, and I have a half-cocked,
half-cooked theory why it makes sense, at least in that business. I have been
saving it up like Howard Hughes just for this moment.

Traditionally, the majority of advertising agencies in New York City use
Macintosh computers. Some have lately switched to the enemy, but still
retain Macs for creative functions (imagine the surprise of British agency
Bartle Bogle Hegerty when they opened a New York office and found that unlike in
London, their creatives here refused to use Windows). Anyway, until they
squandered their market share with slow upgrades, CESoft's QuickMail was the
number one email program of choice for these Mac-based offices (there are
Windows versions of the program, too). Second place was far, far distant.
This was the case for years.

So in 1995 when I took a computer tech related job with a 150-person ad
agency in SoHo, I was amused to find that everyone shortened the name of the
program from "Quickmail" to "QMail" (not to be confused with the Unix
program by the same name) and even further to "Q." It was used in exactly the
manner described above by Peter McGraw. I testify that this is and was the
case for multiple agencies.

Later, when QuickMail added on modules to allow what had been a LAN-based
program to trade email with the Internet at large, "QuickMail" became
"email." Many agencies that I know of (meaning the dozen or so I have done work
for during the last few years) now use a free Netscape or Microsoft email
program, though a few have moved (like I personally have) to the QuickMail
Internet SMTP/POP Internet not-LAN-only version. As they pass each other in
the hallway, they say things like, "Did you get my e?" and "I'll e you with
the details as soon as I can" which are, truth be told, wonderful delaying
and deferring tactics to prevent the dangerous exchange of actual, useful
information. God bless e.

So my ridiculous theory is that "Q" for these people, easily turned into
"e." That's all. I dunno about everybody else.

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