LIFE

You said it!

ANOTHER ONE for your bookshelves. This time it is the Oxford Collocations Dictionary, at a special Indian price, which has just arrived in city.

Alright, now what is collocation, we hear some asking. According to the dictionary, collocation is the way words combine in a language to produce natural sounding speech and writing. Very simple, it means that elusive adjective that seems to be at the tip of your tongue, but yet not there.

In context, over the last few days, if you have felt like most of us, talking about the rains and the roads, then you should have said, `strong wind' and `heavy rain'. Normally. While all might be familiar with both adjectives, there could be a temptation to say `heavy winds' and `strong rain', a mistake the dictionary people expect non-native speakers of English to make. It takes a higher degree of competence, they say, to combine words properly in productive use. It is combinations such as these that are vital to communicative competence in English. And why should a student of the language pay importance to collocation? A student who says `strong rain' might be understood, but will possibly provoke a smile and will certainly be marked down in an examination, according to the house of dictionaries, Oxford.

So why can't you use a dictionary? Why invest Rs. 395 in a new book altogether. Because, a normal dictionary does just the reverse function, splitting up meaning into individual words. Though this means a lot of power to dissect the meaning of a text, it is less powerful, when it comes to constructing texts.

By Ramya Kannan

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