Just saw this in Slate.com. Too good not to post in its entirety.
What do you think of these latest AP pronouncements? Welcome, stupid, or who cares about AP style anymore?
Associated Press Newstyles "Email" and "Cellphone" Posted Friday, March 18, 2011 4:02 PM | By Tom Scocca
The AP announced today that it will drop the hyphen from the word formerly written, under AP style, as "e-mail." It is also changing "cell phone" to "cellphone." Nearly a year ago, the wire service switched from "Web site" to "website."
"Language evolves," the keepers of the AP Stylebook Tweeted, or tweeted, or posted to the Twitter service. Yes, it does, and it would be an odd, fusty world if everyone publishing in American English kept putting a dieresis on "coöperate" a la Eustace Tilley. But the AP's don't-bend-but-break approach to the problem of computerage wordmash is getting superirritating if you write for a living.
Style rules are there to spare writers and editors from having to worry about the details over and over again. Some people believe that the hyphen in "e-mail" is antithetical to the free and speedy spirit of the in4mationage. Some people believe that the unhyphenated "email" looks faddish and lazy. I find both sets of people irritating, and I have no desire to stage a debate between them when I am simply trying to mention, in passing, that the means by which someone wrote and delivered a particular piece of text was an electronic-mail program. It was an email. An e-mail. I don't care which.
What's the point of switching sides now? In 10 more years, for all we know, everyone's going to do the even more straightforward thing and call electronic mail "mail." Most people I talk to already call their cell phones "phones," because those are what they use to make all their phone calls. (That thing sticking out of the wall, which I got mostly for the sake of hearing people clearly during phone interviews, is a "landline." Or is it a "land line"? AP, so eager to keep up with the times, doesn't specify.)
Maybe the changes are part of the wire service's sad ongoing campaign to be kicky and "with it." Maybe the AP is worried about the strain on everyone's right pinkies from stretching up to hit those hyphens and reaching down to shift the W's.
The thing that makes standards useful is that they're standards: you don't have to stop the freight train halfway to its destination and load everything from four-and-a-half-foot-gauge boxcars into five-foot-gauge boxcars. But the AP keeps ripping up the rails and laying new ones. Today's announcement doesn't convince me that "email" is better (or worse) than "e-mail." It just convinces me the AP has no idea what it's doing.
I saw that earlier today. About time they moved into the 20th century.
They have always updated terminology and usage. One of the main reasons is so that stories in a publication will be consistent.
I find the evolution of the language fascinating, actually.
I totally agree with Web site becoming website; e-mail becoming email. Not so sure I like cell phone becoming cellphone, but will deal.
While we're on the subject, who's following the most recent AP rule about making words ending in "s" possessive with just an apostrophe? Am I getting that right? Is it weird to anyone?
No, it means like churches' needs (more than one church) and states' rights (more than one state, etc.) I've always done this and my 2000 AP stylebook says this, too. I don't think that is a new thing.
Not plural possessives. Singular possessives for names that end in "s." See illustration of confusion below:
Chicago Manual of Style:
Associated Press Stylebook:
The boss's words
The boss' sake
The boss' seat
Strunk & White's The Elements of Style:
That is the problem with getting too hung up on grammar - different style guides suggest different grammatical rules, and that is before you look at the differences between US and British English.
Personally, I believe that, as long as you are consistent in your use, anyone complaining is being unnecessarily anal. Not the sort of person you would want to be stuck with at a party.
I like the apostrophe without the extra 's' - it saves valuable pixels
Oh, I see. It does seem a little odd, but I think I like it better. The "s's" thing is cumbersome.
Definitely not the sort of person you want to get stuck with at a party! Not the sort of person you want to get stuck with as a client, either
It seems AP continues to move toward simplicity.
My only fear with using James' without the additional "s" is meeting up with someone who checks the rule using a style guide other than AP. Oh well -- AP trumps 'em all (in my world, anyway:).
Thanks for chiming in, fellow grammatics fanatics MM
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