face-first pratfall

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Oct 5 02:48:21 UTC 2011

On Oct 4, 2011, at 9:45 PM, James A. Landau wrote:

> http://channels.isp.netscape.com/sports/story.jsp?flok=FF-APO-+&idq=/ff/story/1001%2F20111004%2F9043.htm&sc=+&floc=sp-main-1-l1
> "The Rays weren't the only ones who had trouble keeping up with Beltre — a television cameraman trying to run alongside Beltre to capture the image as the star jogged home did a face-first pratfall."
> Huh?
>   - Jim Landau
Another instance of loss of transparency.  "Prat" for 'buttocks', despite its impressive centuries-old legacy, is pretty moribund outside of the pratfall, which in turn could be reanalyzed as something like 'a comical or humiliating fall', maybe '…esp. on the buttocks'.  True, there are hits for "(fall) on one's prat", but I'd wager a lot of speakers fail to make the connection, or have "prat" as a distinct lexical item at all.  I watched the above event both live and on replay, and I can vouch for the fact that no prats were injured in this video.


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

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