By John E. McIntyre
The Baltimore Sun
10:40 PM EDT, March 28, 2013
Not that I would wish to awaken some dormant and perhaps moribund beast, but I wonder if you know anyone who still bristles at the possessive with inanimate objects.
I remember very clearly being instructed that a construction such as the bill's sponsor is plainly wrong, because an inanimate object cannot possess anything, so only the sponsor of the bill can be correct. Wilson Follett grew quite warm on the subject in the mid-1960s in Modern American Usage.
But Bryan Garner says that the construction is unobjectionable, and I have not encountered any stricture against it in years.
I raise the point only to speculate on the possibility that a zombie rule might go extinct, as the stickler objection from the 1940s and 1950s to contact as a verb has finally made its way to the boneyard. If it has, apart for some lingering, grumbling mossback, we can raise a huzzah.
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