Friday, 26 September 2008

On contacting

A correspondent writes to ask whether I've heard the usage to contact someone with someone. He had come across it on the Jajah website, as follows:
'I use JAJAH to contact my clients with overseas developers' - a comment made by someone from California.

No, I've not come across this, as an equivalent to 'put in contact with'. It feels like a usage which could easily grow, though, as it's a natural semantic extension and it has succinctness on its side (one word instead of three). But it will certainly arouse controversy. Indeed, contact aroused the disapproval of usage pundits from the moment it was first used as a transitive verb, in its sense of 'be in communication with', in the USA in the 1920s. So this new usage will certainly attract the critics, if it catches on. Has anyone else seen or heard it?


Nigel Greenwood said...

The flexibility of English, which allows us to make transitive verbs intransitive & vice versa, is in sharp contrast to Turkish, which demands more precision. Turkish uses affixes to indicate a causative relation: eg öl-mek "to die"; öl-dür-mek "to cause to die; to kill"; öl-dür-t-mek "to cause to cause to die; to cause to kill; to put out a contract on someone". (The hyphens are merely expository: they aren't used in the orthography.)

Anonymous said...

Might it be a typo for 'connect'?

DC said...

Hardly, with a two-letter shift, well apart from t and a. No, it's a perfectly understandable semantic/syntactic development, it seems to me.

julietanigra said...

Hello everyone, the collocation seems a Spanish borrowing to me as we have a literal translation of that use of the verb connect
"conatctar a alguien con alguien" like in "Me voy a tratar de contactar con Martin para pedirle los apuntes"

DC said...

Good point. Could be.