The Bramblestory blog states that correct word usage and spelling must at some point bend before common usage, and for these relics of the 90s, that time has come. The blog listed Google hits for some variant terms:
e-mail – 13.9M hits vs. email - 267M hits
web site – 9.6M hits vs. website – 117M hits
on-line – 9.8M hits vs. online - 330M hits
The blog adds that Google even asks "Do you mean..."
I tired this on 5/31 and “email” got 295M hits and “e-mail” got 24M hits. Google also asked me “do you mean email?” when I put in e-mail but not the reverse.
Webster’s Third International Dictionary came out in 1962 to a controversy over this same issue. The guiding principle of the new dictionary was that correctness rests upon usage. This was met with some critical reviews. My father, Sumner Ives, a linguist, was hired by the publisher, Merriam Company, to craft an explanation for this approach in anticipation of the critics.
In an interview published in the NY Times on March 3, 1962, he said that we must get away from the notion that there is only one English language and the idea that the role of the dictionary is to monitor for correctness. Instead, language is a living thing and different varieties are appropriate for different occasions. The dictionary should be a recorder of language and this history will evolve over time.
Google hits may be the latest statistical validation of language usage and a guide for the next generation of dictionary scholars.
I wonder what other uses can be found for Google hits?