Miles From Fenway

Geeky Pet Peeves
July 7, 2008, 2:10 am
Filed under: writing

I often wonder about how language, grammar, and style evolve. Who was the one person who first thought “you know, dashes should be different lengths”? And how did they convince others to follow suit?

Along those lines, I’ve got some pretty geeky pet peeves. For example, I have a severe aversion to hyphenating the word “email”. Ten years ago, I could understand. When email was still a new tool, there was a reason to emphasise that this was “electronic mail” as opposed to conventional mail. But at this point, “e-mail” should be a thing of the past. The culture as a whole has gotten the message. We all know what email is at this point.

But the thing that’s been bugging me lately is this new trend in phone numbers. When did we decide that periods should replace the dashes when including phone numbers in invitations, programs, ect? It’s become so pervasive that I saw a phone number the other day on the side of a moving truck that looked like this:


I’ve heard a couple different argumens for this – the one that infuriated me the most was that this looks “classier”. Um, how? It actually makes it harder to read, nevermind that the dashes indicate a pause, not a full stop, which of course, you’re not doing in the middle of a phone number.

Damn, I think I just bored even myself. And on my first post back, no less. I’m seriously out of practice.


8 Comments so far
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I completely agree with the idea about the phone numbers. That is annoying, dashes work so much better.

Comment by todaysfreelancer

hey welcome back.

Its like riding a bike. I am attempting my comeback as well, some days it hits me and some months it doesn’t.

Comment by Ari

Hee. First thing I noticed, in your comments, it says “e-mail address never displayed.” Really, though, I hate the superflous hyphen in “email.”

As for the periods instead of hyphens in phone numbers… well, maybe it’s because the periods/dots are easier to find/type on a keyboard? Maybe people use dots instead of hyphens because, at a glance, it might be mistaken as a SSN? I dunno – I’m just grasping here.

Really, I’m surprised we haven’t seen weirder things regarding phone numbers. Remember back when you generally didn’t have to dial area codes? And area codes were always in parenthesis? Well, now that times have changed, I guess people don’t know how to punctuate phone numbers, so they’re doing whatever. I personally don’t mind the dots, because for me, it seems weird to put a hyphen after an area code (e.g. 619-555-3825).

Me? I just want to go back to the time when phone numbers had names in them. You know, like “Underwood-342.” Of course, that was back in the time when there were only like, ten phones in the entire world.

OK, maybe eleven.

Comment by mikey

Things *I* noticed in my comments? The moderation thing. I’ve turned it off – not like I get so many comments that it’s annoying to moderate them, really I’m just lazy.

Though now, of course, I want to try to find a way to get that hyphen out of the word email. Thanks, mikey, that one’s gonna bug me for a while 😉

Comment by soxfaninnyc

Just wanted to say welcome back! Glad you’re writing again – hope all is well 🙂

Comment by East Coast Teacher

Hey Finy!!! Welcome back!! Missed your blogging. Life has been crazy hectic for awhile. I find myself wondering if it will ever slow down sometimes. I hope things are going well for you.

Comment by Edmund Dantes

Hehe. I totally agree about the phone number thing. And I’m definitely anti hyphen when it comes to typing “email.” And I must admit, even though I’m a repeat offender, the name[AT]company[DOT]com thing gets to me, too. I know the reasoning behind it, but I don’t know… it still annoys me. Nice to see you blogging and on Twitter! 🙂


Comment by Jane - Mom Generations

I am 100% with you on the email thing, but you are wrong about the phone number thing. I am one of the people who thinks the periods look really classy. In fact, I can’t believe you don’t agree!

Comment by Meegan

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