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“get in contact”

Pet peeve 3

Saying “get in contact’ or “keep in contact”

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What is it that yu don't like about 'em?

AnWulf July 12, 2012, 9:59am

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Personal preference mainly, they just don't sound right, kind of stilted and pretentious, almost a bastardisation of the verb 'contact'.
Prefer 'contact' or 'get in touch' and 'maintain contact' or 'keep in touch'.

Hairy Scot July 12, 2012, 10:25am

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Do pet peeves have to be justified or explained?

Mediator July 12, 2012, 11:12am

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I do not believe that peeves have to be justified, as it seems to go against their very nature. But I see no harm in explaining them when asked. Questions I find are at the heart of learning.

Figroll July 12, 2012, 3:10pm

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I agree that no justification should be necessary.
All too often you find something sets your teeth on edge for no apparent reason.
Pet peeves can at times seem totally illogical to other people, although there will be occasions when others can identify with them.

When I suggested to Dyske that he re-open the Pet Peeves section I did request that a caveat could be that no justification or even explanation should be necessary.

I have a long list which I did submit but Dyske suggested it might be better to trickle feed them.

"Just thought I'd warn you! :-))"

Hairy Scot July 12, 2012, 3:23pm

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Interesting, I find “get in contact’ or “keep in contact” to be less stilted than "contact" or "maintain".

AnWulf July 12, 2012, 5:58pm

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As I said, personal preferences and opinions.
What you find acceptable may cause me to grind my teeth and vice versa.

That should not prevent either of us from expressing those preferences or opinions.

I am sure as I trickle feed my list of pet peeves into the forum that there will be many with which you will disagree or think illogical, and perhaps even some with which you will agree.


Hairy Scot July 12, 2012, 6:43pm

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Could it be " get in touch" less formal than " keep in touch", while "contact" or "maintain" are deemed more written and elegant English?

EnglishKnight1 July 13, 2012, 9:47pm

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* While "contact" and "maintain"

EnglishKnight1 July 13, 2012, 9:59pm

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Alas, we need to go into the realm of science and technology again: "to get in contact with" is mostly a phase from telecommunications, and especially from radio communications. It probably spread from there into telephone communications, and perhaps from there into other fields. Here is an example that I just made up:
An amateur radio operator in New South Wales in 1912 astonished everyone he knew when he was able to get in contact with other radio operators in Ontario and Quebec.

"To get in contact with" is also a less formal version of "to establish contact with".

"To get in contact with" can also be a momentary thing, and that was a salient fact in shortwave radio communications, especially back before about 1943.

"To keep in contact with" is something that extends over a significant period of time, and that is something that is more difficult to do, and especially in radio communications back before about 1943, also. For example, the Department of the Navy in Washington, D.C., had difficulty keeping in contact with its base at Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

Actually, that is a historical fact, but it has puzzled me. Even before the 1940s, there already was an underwater telegraph cable from California to the Philippines, and it went via Oahu, Midway Island, Wake Island, and Guam. Why didn't the Department of the Navy just sent telegrams to Pearl Harbor instead of radiograms, considering that the atmospheric conditions were poor for radiograms that weekend? The Navy should have had A-1 priority on using that telegraph line.

Watch out! Some people get confused. Long distance telephone communications are a lot more difficult than telegraph, and the first telephone cable from the U.S. to England was not completed until 1956. Then the first transpacific phone cable was not completed until 1964, and it connected California, Hawaii, Guam, and Japan.

If you ever read about Roosevelt and Churchill talking with each other across the Atlantic during 1940 - 45, that was a two-way radio connection, and not an underwater cable. The signal was supposed to be scrambled, but sometimes the Germans were able to listen in anyway. They had figured out how to descramble the signal.

D. A. Wood July 15, 2012, 1:43pm

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Some verbs with "contact", in alphabetical order:

break contact, continue contact, establish contact, forsake contact, get in contact, keep in contact, make contact, permit contact, seek contact, strive for contact.

Maybe you can find some here that you can use.

D. A. Wood July 15, 2012, 2:02pm

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I suppose a lot depends on the context.
For standard everyday use I would prefer "keep in touch" or "get in touch".
When two people are parting company saying "keep in contact" sounds a wee bit stilted.

Perfect Pedant July 18, 2012, 3:45pm

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"Get in contact" simply means that you never were in contact to begin with. "Keep in contact," on the other hand, means that you are already in some sort of contact, but want to make the connection stronger by keeping it stable.

joelackey92 September 24, 2012, 6:41am

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Joelackey92, I would suggest that "get in contact" does not mean that you never were in contact to begin with; it simply means that you are not currently in contact. You may have been in contact before, but have since lost contact.

porsche September 24, 2012, 8:56am

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From Macmillan Dictionary - get/keep/stay in contact: Do you and Jo still keep in contact? - seems pretty normal to me, Hairy Scot, although I'd probably say 'in touch' myself.

Nothing wrong with having pet peeves of course, as long as we realise they are just that, pet peeves, and have absolutely nothing to do with what is good or bad English. I have a few myself - awesome and going forward to start with. But they are only peeves, and that is all. The best way to deal with them is just not to use them. The trouble is that a lot of people elevate their particular peeves into 'rules' - they don't like it, so it must be wrong, even when they have no real grounds for thinking so.

@porsche - I agree.

Warsaw Will September 25, 2012, 10:33am

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@Warsaw Will

I quite agree with your point on pet peeves.
As I said in an earlier post, they are often totally illogical and may even appear silly to others.
Since they are not designed to demonstrate what may be good or bad English it is my contention that absolutely no justification need be provided nor sought.
I try to avoid making my pet peeves into rules, but I must confess that a number of my pet peeves are in fact caused by what I see as breeches of rules.

It is some time since I last visited or posted on PITE, mainly because I grew weary of debating "Rules of English" with those whose credo is that there are no rules.
At times it seems more like a discussion on ARF.

Hairy Scot September 25, 2012, 10:45am

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you stay in touch with relatives and close friends. you still keep in touch with people you knew in high school and college. you contact your system administrator. you only establish contact once. after that, you maintain it. you stay in contact with aircraft until you lose contact. you make contact with aliens.

tdcherry December 14, 2012, 10:17am

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hi ......... have some fun

jaylouser January 15, 2013, 11:54pm

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@HS - if you're ever back this way, this graph from Ngram should make you happy:

Warsaw Will January 17, 2013, 7:56am

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Made my day.


Hairy Scot January 17, 2013, 8:15am

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Yes     No