Yesterday, one of our editors sent an e-mail to the newsroom regarding style issues. And it brought up a host of questions.
For those who aren’t keen on “style” as it pertains to writing, style is a word we use to describe the particular way we write things. It can be related to grammar or spelling or punctuation. It can even be related to personal preference in some cases.
For example, the Associated Press tells us not to use the Oxford comma in lists and that we should spell out numbers below 10. We also know, thanks to our local style guide, that in Bozeman it’s properly written as Peets Hill.
These style e-mails come around from time to time as a matter of course. However, this e-mail had one note that I knew couldn’t be right.
The editor said flat-out that host can’t be a verb. The problem is that our AP Stylebook has no entry for host. And, as all good AP Style-abiding reporters know, that means that the fallback dictionary must provide an answer — and by dictionary, I mean Webster’s New World College Dictionary, fourth edition, the dictionary of the Associated Press.
I’ll paraphrase the entry for host:
- noun, one who entertains guests
- noun, a person who keeps an inn or hostel
- noun, a country or area that provides a place or services for events
- noun, an organism in which a parasite lives
- noun, a main or central computer
- verb, to act as a host
In addition, someone had already asked this question of the Associated Press editors, and the AP answer was posted to the website:
I had the editor dead to rights. When presented with all this evidence — I respectfully waited until the editor had been in the office for a full five minutes first — the editor recanted. Victory!
OK, maybe it’s not as exciting as all that, but sometimes language issues get passionate. It’s just part of the business, I guess.