February 17, 2013

"The" or an "s"

Scanning the news this morning, I came across a headline that spurred my blogging juices.  This headline:

Ram to build only light duty diesel pickup for sale in U.S.

What I thought would be a 'what the hell are they thinking?' sort of post, based on my initial reaction to what I thought the headline said, quickly went in another direction. 
What do you think that headline means?
When I first read it, I thought that Dodge had decided to stop selling all gasoline-powered trucks and only offer diesel fuel trucks in the United States.
That isn't what the article says.  Right off the top, the article makes clear that Dodge is going to offer the first, and only, diesel fueled light duty truck.
Going back and reading the headline, I see where my confusion lies.  If the headline said "Ram to build THE only light duty diesel pickup for sale in U.S.", now that would have been clear.  Or even, "Ram to build only light duty diesel pickupS for sale in U.S."
Using both the "THE" (and an extra one) and the "S" would have been even better.  "Ram to build THE only light duty diesel pickups for sale in THE U.S."
I suppose one could argue that headline writing has always been about making the most attention-getting sort of impact in the fewest number of words, from the glory days of printed news, when space really mattered.  But, this is an internet headline.  Space is infinite.  Can't we get some clear, concise, and written-in-complete-sentences sort of headlines?

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