November 18th, 2007

I was reading this article about a powerful aftershock in northern Chile and this sentence leapt out at me:

The quake, near the coast and Chile’s border with Peru, struck just 7km below the surface, but Chilean and Peruvian media did not report any damages or injuries.

Damages? I thought that was only used in the legal context of money awarded as compensation to a victim. I would’ve thought the correct word for this sentence would be ‘damage’. Isn’t damage normally uncountable? I’ve never heard anyone say anything like, “I crashed my car, but it’s not too bad, only three damages.” Something like that would normally be expressed as “mildly damaged” or “the damage wasn’t too severe”, wouldn’t it?

2 Responses to “damages”

  1. John Says:

    You’re quite right. “Damage” is uncountable except when it means “compensation”, in which case it’s only ever plural to the best of my knowledge.

    Overexcited typing, perhaps?

  2. wangbo Says:

    It did occur to me that some Chilean lawyer was trying to sue the faultline on behalf of the people whose houses had collapsed. If that is the case, then the damages are going to be a long time coming.