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Damages
Posted: 15 April 2011 03:59 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I was led some way up the garden path by this headline that was in a sidebar while I was reading something else on an American news site:

Storm damages mount in Fox Valley

is this (what Language Log calls) a ”crash blossom” only to BrE readers like me, who may wonder at first, as I did, how a mount can be damaged by a storm? Or are Americans led up the garden path too?

In my idiolect this headline would have to say “Cost of storm damage mounts” - “Storm damage mounts” on its own doesn’t work, because the damage is there, it’s the cost of putting it right that is being seen to rise. Not least, “damages” to me is strictly something decided upon by a court or tribunal for a defendant to pay a plaintiff, or similar, and is not a synonym for “cost of damage”. I see that the body of the news report says “emergency government officials continued to assess damages from the tornadoes, high winds and hail that accompanied the storm that swept through the Fox Valley.” Again, “damages” there would have to be “the cost of damage” for me.

The OED seems to support me in suggesting “damages” has only a strictly judicial sense of recompense paid by one party to another for a wrong, and the only definitions I can find in the online Merriam-Webster appear to be using “damages” in its legal sense as well. However, I see that Dictionary.com has an extra definition of damages, beyond the legal one, as ”damages Informal - cost; expense; charge: ‘What are the damages for the lubrication job on my car?’” - which in BrE would be “what’s the damage?” Has “damages” in AmE now come to mean “cost of damage”? (Trying to find useful examples even in Google News seems to be a hopeless task because of precisely the verbal use of “damages” that confused me in the headline in the first place …)

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Posted: 15 April 2011 05:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Before clicking on the thread, I interpreted “damages” as a noun and thought the post was going to be about people suing to recover “damages”, meaning money lost.  Therefore perhaps I was biased (thinking noun, not verb) and the headline about money down the drain due to a storm made perfect sense to this American.

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Posted: 15 April 2011 06:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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jtab4994 - 15 April 2011 05:50 AM

Before clicking on the thread, I interpreted “damages” as a noun and thought the post was going to be about people suing to recover “damages”, meaning money lost.  Therefore perhaps I was biased (thinking noun, not verb) and the headline about money down the drain due to a storm made perfect sense to this American.

It IS a noun but in a different sense. Damages mount up vs. your notion of damages meaning money lost. Zythophile interpreted it as a verb (as did I, by the way) and mount as a noun..

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Posted: 15 April 2011 06:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Headline was immediately comprehensible to this Yank; I don’t think any speaker of US English would read it as a crash blossom.

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Posted: 15 April 2011 08:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Oecolampadius - 15 April 2011 06:27 AM

It IS a noun but in a different sense. Damages mount up vs. your notion of damages meaning money lost.

Right.  I said I thought of “damages” as a noun upon seeing the title of the thread.

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Posted: 15 April 2011 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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languagehat - 15 April 2011 06:29 AM

Headline was immediately comprehensible to this Yank; I don’t think any speaker of US English would read it as a crash blossom.

Absent context, I agree.  If, however, this were an article in an equestrian or livestock magazine…

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Posted: 15 April 2011 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I thought of both possible senses when I read the headline, but because “mount” for mountain is fairly unusual in everyday American English except as part of a name (Mount Ranier, Mount Everest), I was not confused about the sense intended.

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Posted: 15 April 2011 01:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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This British English reader took it in its intended sense. It never occurred to me to read it otherwise.

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Posted: 15 April 2011 03:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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languagehat - 15 April 2011 06:29 AM

Headline was immediately comprehensible to this Yank; I don’t think any speaker of US English would read it as a crash blossom.

As a native Yank and speaker of US English for over half a century, I have to disagree with languagehat.  It was a crash blossom for me. 

Just after I opened the thread, I expected “Storm damages mount in Fox Valley” concerned physical damage to a mountain or hill or perhaps a city such as Mount Vernon, or a place, such as Mount Palomar Observatory.  I did not get so far along as to weigh the incongruity of the idea of a mountain in a valley.  The proximity of “valley,” time-wise, to my initial thought that “mount” referred to “mountain” may have contributed to allowing me to be lead slightly. 

The presentation of the words “damages mount” in lower case, and the entire thing as a link, and underlined in my browser, and of a different color, and in a larger font size, led me in many directions.  Even though it was mentioned clearly above that it was a headline, I did not immediately see that it was.  I apply a different standard of expectation when reading headlines.  If I had come upon it in print as in a newspaper, I would have known before seeing it that it was a headline and so been able to treat it accordingly.  “Storm Damages Mount In Fox Valley” with the indicated uppercase letters would have possibly more immediately clued me to the fact that it was a headline. 

OP, as far as your question: “ Has “damages” in AmE now come to mean “cost of damage”?”

It has not for me.  “Storm Damage Mounts” would more clearly intend “damage” as “cost of damage” for me but I would none-the-less hold open the possibility that a storm might be getting worse.  A “crash blossom,” by definition. 

Perhaps the editor was attempting to uphold a state of parochial authority for the publication?  After all, if I had lived in Fox Valley, I might have known the storm was over.

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Posted: 15 April 2011 04:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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This Yank read it in the intended way, but I can easily see reading it the other. Had I been thinking about astronomy, for instance, I might have read mount as meaning a telescope mount. It all depends on your frame of mind when you encounter it. Some crash blossoms are more universal, though. This was not one of those.

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Posted: 15 April 2011 11:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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It didn’t exactly mislead me this south-eastern English reader, but my instinctive reaction was that it was a careless error for “Storm damage mounts”.

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Posted: 16 April 2011 04:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Huh.  Well, once again I learn not to generalize.  To me, “mount” = “mountain” is not a word I would ever expect to see in the newspaper except as part of a name.

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Posted: 16 April 2011 07:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I wouldn’t expect to see it so used either. It surely must be a rare usage on either side of the Atlantic.

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Posted: 16 April 2011 05:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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The headline made sense to me in the north east of England.

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Posted: 16 April 2011 07:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I seem to have little companionship in thinking of a mount as a horse.

Perhaps it’s because mounts are more apt to be hurt than damaged.

#
The Golden Age - Google Books Result
John C. Wright - 2003 - 416 pages
Daphne hated war stories, especially ones where cavalry officers’ mounts were
hurt. Not much action-adventure, no. ...
books.google.com/books?isbn=0812579844
#
Celluloid Indians: Native Americans and film - Google Books Result
Jacquelyn Kilpatrick - 1999 - 261 pages
... strungjust under the water, and when the unsuspecting Indians reached it,
their horses went down, and many Indians as well as their mounts were hurt. ...
books.google.com/books?isbn=0803277903

Maybe the alternative meaning of mount has more
enthusiasts:

#
Jeeperjohn Motor mounts for sale - NAXJA Forums -::- North ...
I was kinda surprised my mounts were damaged since I replaced them when I put in
the new motor last year. I guess I didn’t tighten the bolts enough. ...
http://www.naxja.org/forum/showthread.php?… - Cached - Similar

#
Weird suspension issue [Archive] - Vauxhall Owners Network
Wondering whether the top mounts were damaged by the dodgy Konis, but they look
perfect… Wishbones/balljoints have been replaced since the ...
http://www.vauxhallownersnetwork.co.uk/archi… - Cached - Similar

[ Edited: 16 April 2011 07:05 PM by cuchuflete ]
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Posted: 17 April 2011 06:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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My first thought [Old US male] of ‘’mount’’ was ‘to pile up’, - AHDs “VERB:intr.  1. To go upward; rise.” I did not see anything confusing or amusing about the headline until after scanning down through the thread. The horsemanship ‘’mount’’ did flicker through my mind.

The word ‘’damages’’ was always a noun meaning, probably, money lost.

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