Fatals (noun)

Damien Hall halldj at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue Jul 4 15:27:45 UTC 2006

Barbara wrote:

"Today's Chicago Tribune has a headline that reads "White [Sec of
State] says teen fatals a priority". The article is about teen
driving fatalities. I have done a quick Google search (for English
results only) and, leaving aside references to The Fatals (a band?)
and to Femme Fatals (another band? the same band), the hits all seem
to be related to traffic fatalities--and the word appears in
headlines--not in the body of the text (or, in one case, a link at
the top of the page--the actual headline has fatalities)."

We then had a discussion about other adjectives made into nouns (*creative*,
etc).  But has anyone ever heard this use of *fatal(s)* pronounced?  (I
haven't.)  The first mental pronunciation of it that I came up with was


with the stress on the same syllable as in *fatality/-ies*, because I imagined
it as a headlinese abbreviation of the noun, not as a nominalisation of the
adjective, which would I suppose be pronounced /'fejt at lz/.

In what is about the same semantic field (headline and TV-show crime?), we
already have *perpetrator* > *perp* > *perps*.  Any thoughts?

Damien Hall
University of Pennsylvania

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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