So, what’s the prblm?

Nothing that a few ‘e’s wouldn’t help. On Monday asset managers Standard Life Aberdeen triggered a wave of mockery when it announced that its new brand name was Abrdn. Some described this move as a “misjudgement of historic proportions”, others pointed out that they couldn’t help reading it as “A Burden”.

Abrdn? Srsly?

Ys. Oops, yes.

This whole e-dropping thing isn’t new, is it?

Not at all. In fact, that’s part of the problem with it. Back in 2004, flickr, who couldn’t obtain the domain name for flicker, launched themselves without an e and a whole string of other trendy tech brands followed: Tumblr, Grindr, Pixlr, Readr. “Being ‘e’ free distinguishes you from the run-of-the-mill, vowel-infested world,” said Esther Dyson, an investor in flickr. A 2015 article in Thought Matter, urged, “Go on, stand out from the crowd, drop an ‘e’. But only until it becomes the norm.”

One would think that the time when it would help a brand stand out was well passed. For quite some time the loss of the has been normlisd. In fact, not only is losing a few ‘e’s way behind the time, so is even the partial or full ‘disemvowelment’ of words, as in the podcast Srsly, the online quiz tool qzzr or design agency UNBXD. Partly what’s making Abrdn stand out is that it seems like a mainstream company jumping on a trend long after it has been dead.

And getting rid of the ‘e’ hasn’t just been a digital era thing, either?

No, it has history. Whole books, let alone brand names, have managed without it – for instance lipogramatic Georges Perec novel, La Disparition, for instance and the 1939 novel Gadsby by Ernest Vincent Wright (authors who nowadays might well have renamed themselves Gorgs Prc and Rnst Vincnt Wright).

I mean, do we even need ‘e’s? Or indeed any vowels? In a fast world, don’t they just slow things down and take up space in a post or tweet?

Well, actually dropping them out slows things down more, rather than speeds things up. We stop, for a moment, and look hard at the unfamiliar Abrdn, wonder as many have done how to pronounce it, and then possibly remember it well – even whilst finding it acutely annoying at the same time.

Is it too late to save the ‘e’?

No, it’s been way too common for too long – it can take a bit of a popularity dive. It’s not leaving the language yet.

And aren’t these letter droppings and text abbreviations causing havoc with our kids’ spelling?

Apparently not. Research has found that children who regularly use the abbreviated language of text messages are actually improving their ability to spell correctly. Who needs actual hmwrk, when you’ve got a phone and a few apps?