To ‘E’ or not to ‘E’….

That’s what I do: I drink and I know things. – Tyrion Lannister

Often times, passionate people find excuses to quarrel about what really can be reduced to trivial and time-wasting debates.  Two specific examples of this come from two of my favourite fields –Whisky and Wi-Fi.

While fun to deliberate and speculate over origins and what is the “correct” way, it’s best done while enjoying a dram of your favourite dark spirit.  So, pour a few fingers of your beloved deep-thinking libation and read on for some points to consider the next time you are judging on twitter …

‘WAP’ and ‘Whiskey’ are two terms that each have the ability to elicit strong reactions in readers.  Some even twitch when seeing these spellings, those of whom feel the correct and only way to write these terms is in their reduced spelling as ‘AP’ and ‘Whisky’.  Neither wishing to offend, nor prepared to make a decision, some endeavour to be politically correct and include superfluous punctuation, wrapping contentious letters in brackets – writing (W)AP or Whisk(e)y. 

Let’s explore some of the history and use of each of these terms… starting with the ‘spirit’ side to get us warmed up and keeping our analysis and deep thoughts more interesting…

Regardless of what you call it: Scotch, Irish, Canadian, Japanese, Bourbon, Rye, Straight, Wheat, Corn, Mash, Blended, or Malt – they are all whiskies.   Origins of these fermented malted grains goes back centuries to when Irish monks returned from their pilgrimages with knowledge of the distillation of ‘aqua vitae’ which translates to ‘water of life’.  Water translates to ‘uisge’ in Scottish Gaelic and ‘uisce’ in Irish Gaelic, pronounced ‘wish-ga’ and ‘ish-ka’, respectively.  Life translates to beatha, pronounced bah-ha. The term whisky is derived from the Scottish Gaelic term for ‘water of life’ – uisge-beatha.  Overtime, pronunciation of these words was shortened and misconstrued to sound like what we know in modern days as ‘whisky’.

Around the world, the e-less spelling is generally used for spirits produced in Scotland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, France, Germany, Netherlands, India, Taiwan, and Japan.  Generally, it’s in America and Ireland where the e-expanded whiskey spelling is used.  So why the difference?  It may have been an effect of the English Malt laws imposed in the 19th century.  Or it may have been the rejection of Aeneas Coffey’s still by the Dublin large scale pot still distillers (which significantly enhanced economic performance but was criticized for reducing the quality).  The more economic pot still quickly made its way into Scotland and not long after, cheaper and arguably inferior Scotch whisky flooded the market.  After the Irish whisky industry lost enough market share, a method to differentiate sprits distilled in Ireland vs Scotland was devised.  Going forward, spirits produced in Ireland were labeled Irish Whiskey, with an ‘e’ to differentiate it from Scotch Whisky.  As it turns out, the difference in spelling is most likely a simple feat of marketing.  Interestingly, a significant number of Irish migrated to America in the late 1800’s, compared to a higher ratio of Scots migrating to Canada, which may account for the spelling differences between America and Canada.

It is also interesting to know the 2019 consolidation version of the EU technical file, describing the specification with which Irish distillation must comply, states in Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 identifying the category of spirit drink from Ireland as:

“Irish Whiskey / Uisce Beatha Eireannach / Irish Whisky”

All Irish whiskies must bear one of the sales denominations listed above.

Furthermore, in documents as recently as 2021 the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) in Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Chapter I Subchapter A Part 5 Subpart C 5.22 defines the standards of identity for distilled spirits using the spelling “whisky” for the several classes and types of distilled spirits listed.

Lastly, the term whisky is used almost exclusively (one occurrence of whiskey) in Chapter 4 Class and Type Designation, a document describing distilled spirits published by the TTB.

The nice thing about standards is that you have so many to choose from.

Andrew Tanenbaum

Bringing this discussion back to the domain of Wi-Fi, we can move beyond the ‘WAP’ vs ‘AP’ debate spiral, that provides no value although, admittedly, can be quite entertaining.

Wireless LANs (WLANs) are a novel enough concept in networking that devices serving Wi-Fi connectivity to clients were emphasized for their wireless capability.  The term WAP is certainly not made up and has been used as a standard term within BICSI (Building Industry Consulting Service International), a global organization spanning nearly 100 countries with a mission of advancing the information and communications technology (ICT) profession.   Several BICSI standards, including the ICT Terminology Handbook, use the term WAP as the standard term for a wireless transceiver connecting WLAN devices.

The IETF – whose mission is to make the Internet work better by producing high quality, relevant technical documents that influence the way people design, use, and manage the Internet – published two RFCs defining the control and provisioning protocols for Wireless Access Points.

RFC 5415: Control And Provisioning of Wireless Access Points (CAPWAP) Protocol Specification

RFC 5417: Control And Provisioning of Wireless Access Points (CAPWAP) Access Controller DHCP Option

The IETF publishes the standards for fundamentals protocols used on the Internet such as TCP/IP, SSH, DNS, HTTP and JSON – and they refer to WLAN transceivers as Wireless Access Points (WAPs).

Maybe this debate will naturally come to an end as the largest vendor of enterprise WLAN hardware has now officially announced End-of-Sale and End-of-Life for the Cisco WAP Wireless Access Point.  The last date of support for Cisco WAPs is slated for August 31, 2026.

It doesn’t matter to me which way you spell/say it – ‘AP’ or ‘WAP’, ‘whisky’ or ‘whiskey’.  In all cases, I know what you are talking about.  To be an effective communicator, sometimes you need to adjust your vernacular to align with those you’re communicating with or roll within industry specific lingo without being triggered.   I may be able to infer your training background or palate preferences for Bourbon based your use of WAP or whiskey.  At the end of the day, our community would be better served debating design methodologies such as basing capacity counts on the number of devices vs the number of users.  Or even debate the effect of rate limits across specific environments and applications to yield maximum throughput, user experience, and airtime efficiency.  

Discussion is good, discussion with whisky is better.” 

WiFi Vitae

In any case, never stop learning and stay thirsty for that next glass of knowledge.

Oh, one more thing, in a somewhat related note, if it is not obvious by now, ‘Wi-Fi vitae’ translates to ‘Wi-Fi of life’.  Wi-Fi doesn’t translate to anything and is just a cool sounding expression which doesn’t stand for anything – certainly NOT wireless fidelity.  Life, of course, translates to vitae, bringing us to



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