May 29th, 2007

English

Preëmption

Wouldja look at the umlaut (or is it a trema?) in that word in my subject! I read that and thought, "Who the hell uses umlauts in English?" Granted, I knew that it was once the proper way, but that was going out of style early in the last century. We're talking pre-WWII. Sorta like "to-morrow". Nobody writes like that anymore. At least that's what I thought. Wikipedia tells me The New Yorker does (as well as a grand total of two other publications), and voilà! That is where I read it.

I'm torn between thinking its use is pretentious or it's old-style cool. I'm leaning towards pretentious and a part of me is a bit sad about that. Will I one day be classified as pretentious for wanting to cling to "e-mail"? I admit, "email" is gaining traction in my writing, but a part of me wants to rebel. Stay e-mail, my trusty friend!

And yet, I seem to have no problem with the plethora of made up i words. Never have I wanted to write i-Pod. It looks ridiculous. Maybe because the i words tend to be much more a commercial thing. No one company owns e-mail, and yet is there a generic i word? None springs to mind.

There I am, babbling about language again when my own grasp of it is often tenuous at best.