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While Heaphy was in the role of hawk-eyed, sure-handed, specimen-procuring guide, Hochstetter, Haast and their colleagues were delighted by him and quick to sing his praises. (source)

This sentence strikes me as missing an article. Since "guide" is a count noun, shouldn't the sentence read:

While Heaphy was in the role of a hawk-eyed, sure-handed, specimen-procuring guide, Hochstetter, Haast and their colleagues were delighted by him and quick to sing his praises.

Is "the role of guide" grammatical?

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  • We can omit articles before nouns indicating unique roles or positions. I'm not sure why the author omitted it here though. Jan 7 '19 at 17:13
  • I think it's a typo or editing mistake. The sentence is not correct without the article. Jan 7 '19 at 17:31
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    @CanadianYankee: Feasibly a typo, given the extra-long list of adjectival elements between the [potential] article and the associated noun (which tends to make the "stylised" omission of the article a little more "clumsy"). But no way is it "incorrect". Jan 7 '19 at 18:50
  • @FumbleFingers - Thinking about it, I guess you're correct - sometimes we do omit the article if we're treating the noun as if it's a formal title. Jan 7 '19 at 18:53
  • @CanadianYankee: Just to hammer the point home, Google Books claims hundreds of thousands of written instances of the article-less form in the role of teacher. But obviously none at all of in the role of hawk-eyed, sure-handed, specimen-procuring teacher. :) Jan 7 '19 at 18:56
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Articles are sometimes omitted from unique roles, positions, titles, etc.

Heaphy was in the role of guide.

Cheryl was hired in the role of director.

etc.

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