RE: Host as a verb
May 06, 2004 01:43 PDT
In Rex Stout's "Gambit," published in 1962, Archie (our narrator)
"Mr. Wolfe is in the middle of the a fit. It's complicated. There's a
fireplace in the front room, but it's never lit because he hates open
fires. He says they stultify mental processes. But it's lit now
because he's using it. He's seated in front of it, on a chair too small
for him, tearing sheets out of a book and burning them. The book is the
new edition, the third edition, of Webster's New International
Dictionary, Unabridged, published by the G. & C. Merriam Company of
Springfield, Massachusetts. He considers it subversive because it
threatens the integrity of the English language."
At the end of the chapter (one), Archie says to Wolfe, "You knew you
were going to burn it when you bought it. Otherwise you would have
ordered leather." [the cover was buckram]
Wolfe's objection to the 3rd edition? It condoned the use of "contact"
as a verb.
(Having read all of Nero Wolfe at an impressionable age, I still recast
at least my own sentences to avoid the dread construction.)
Bryan Garner notes there was vehement opposition to the use of "contact"
a verb as late as the 1950s.