You’ve Got Mail

Another little detail I noticed on the poster that inspired yesterday’s post: FOR BOOKING MAIL…

Nothing really remarkable there, but I was curious about the use of to mail as a verb. Again, that’s not really revolutionary, but I did notice the lack of an E. Just mail, not email. 

Well, it’s 2018: for most people of a certain age, any reference to mail can be assumed to mean email, as it’s a much more common part of their lives than traditional post (or snail mail). Still though, it’s a little unusual for me to see it used instead of email. I think that’s partly due to me being a xennial: used to using technology, yet not so much that I can’t appreciate how it’s changed the world.

So I completely understand why someone would just use mail, but it still sounds weird.

Though that’s not just a generational thing. Even an English-speaking teenager who’d never sent or received a letter wouldn’t really use mail like that. Not exactly. Of course it can be used perfectly well as a verb, but in the precise context of the text on a poster like that, we’d probably say contact instead of mail, or even just say FOR BOOKING: followed by the email address.

But then this poster was written by a non-native speaker, not yet fully-inducted into the logic of English which dictates we can’t use those words in that exact combination. And they also might not always hear the E part of email when we speak. And even if they do, the brain has a way of just ignoring parts of a word that don’t seem so important. A little like the way English speakers can when dealing with verbs in other languages that have different endings, depending on the person in the sentence, because that’s something we basically don’t have in English.

And no, I’m still not going to the dance lessons to ask about the poster.

5 thoughts on “You’ve Got Mail

    • It’s odd from an English perspective, isn’t it? It’s similar in French too: ‘appareil photo.’ Though I suppose someone who’d learned Latin before English would find ‘camera’ odd, as it means ‘room’ or ‘chamber,’ coming from ‘camera obscura’ (‘dark room.’)


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