Published: 09th March 2019
War of words: From #Abhinandan to 'dodging the bullet', learning word chunks better
Learning words in chunks helps English language learners use the newly learned words effectively while speaking and writing. There are many advantages of learning word chunks
Of late, we have been constantly bombarded with ‘war’ and ‘terror’ terms. If we go through the newspapers and magazines published during the fortnight in India, we can come across words such as terrorism, airstrike, air attacks, air raid, aerial assault, bomber, war, bloodshed, conflict, warfare, hostility, shooting, annihilation, etc. Social media is also abuzz with posts and tweets using such terms.
As an active social media user, I have read numerous posts and tweets on the recent #PulwamaTerrorAttack, #airsrikes, the capture and release of Indian Wing Commander #Abhinandan. The hashtag #BringBackAbhinandan was a top trend on Twitter on the day when the pilot was captured by Pakistan.
Many social media users express their views on such events on social media enthusiastically. While analysing the posts and comments, I came across many collocation errors. A reader of the column suggested that I write a column on war vocabulary. A good idea, indeed!
Learning words in chunks helps English language learners use the newly learned words effectively while speaking and writing. There are many advantages of learning word chunks. In 1956, George Miller of Harvard who introduced the term ‘chunking’ said that people could store more information if they were able to chunk or combine some pieces of information. Let’s look at the words and phrases that collocate with the word ‘terror’. The verbs that go with ‘terror’ include resort to, use, to be filled with, have shake/tremble with, spread and live in. Examples:
They didn’t get what they demanded. Finally, they resorted to terror.
The villagers live in fear.
The prepositions that go with ‘terror’ are: in, out of and with. Here are example sentences.
The child labourer was trembling with terror.
She didn’t utter a word out of fear.
The nouns that collocate with ‘terror’ include: campaign, tactics, gang and group.
We have been warned of terror campaigns many times.
Are you aware of the militants’ terror tactics?
Here are some useful phrases: strike terror into the heart of someone, an act of terror, a reign of terror, a campaign of terror.
Many countries are facing reign of terror in the twenty-first century.
The recent attack on Indian soldiers in Pulwama is clearly an act of terror.
Let’s look at the words and phrases that collocate with the word ‘war’. Here are some of the adjectives that collocate with ‘war’: full-blown, bloody, all-out, full-scale, total, just, holy, civil, guerrilla, atomic, nuclear and economic.
Peace-loving people in India and Pakistan say ‘no’ to both full-blown wars and covert operations. War is a war. It is all about destruction. There is no holy or unjust war.
The verbs that precede ‘war’ include fight, make, wage, declare, go to, be in, win, lose, avert and prevent and some of the verbs that follow ‘war’ are approach, look, threaten, break out, erupt, escalate, spread, progress and come to an end. Here are examples in sentences:
We need to step up to avert a war in the region.
A major war may break out if we don’t give importance to peace talks.
Here are some useful phrases associated with the word ‘war’: the horrors of war, in a state of war, in times of war, the brink of war, on a war footing, the outbreak of war, a theatre of war, a war of attrition. In the phrase ‘theatre of war’, the word ‘theatre’ means ‘warfare’ and it refers to an area where an armed conflict takes place. Here are the phrases in sentences:
What caused the outbreak of the Second World War?
It is said that some terror groups brought India and Pakistan on the brink of war twice in the past two decades.
When we have to face something unpleasant, we say we have to bite the bullet. If there is a war between India and Pakistan, our economy will be affected and people of both countries will have to bite the bullet. If we have successfully avoided a very serious problem, we say that we have dodged the bullet.