The Examination Itself
The UME Use of English is divided into four major parts:
Comprehension, Collocation, Lexis and Structure and 0ral Forms.
There are usually three passages under comprehension, each with five questions carrying 3 marks each. Next is Collocation – 10 questions with 2 marks each, and the third aspect is the Lexis and Structure – 75 questions of 1 mark each all totalling 140 marks. A separate section has been devoted to 0ral English. You understand quite well what comprehension is. But what is Collocation?
This is usually the question part that follows the comprehension. Collocation refers to the grouping of words together with special note on the company that words keep. Certain combination of words cannot be changed, e.g hook, line and sinker; lock, stock and barrel; live a dog’s life . These are essentially meant to be together to bring out the meaning of each of the expressions mentioned above.
Nothing can therefore change live a dog’s life to, live a goat’s life . So, you should understand that there are certain words that should always go with each other in order to realise the real meaning of the expression.
Now, pick the UME 1992 English question paper and study questions 16-25. We have mentioned that the essential characteristic of collocation is that, certain words keep company with one another.
Look at these:
A book can be ENLARGED
The price (of goods) can be INCREASED
A discussion can be PROLONGED
Profit can be MAXIMISED
A bridge can be WIDENED, etc.
But we cannot ENLARGE a discussion or profit nor can we MAXIMISE a bridge or book.
How do you approach that part of the examination, i.e. Collocation?
Since it is usually in comprehension – passage form, you should quickly glance through the passage to determine the REGISTER of the discussion.
What is REGISTER?
This is the set of words, registered trade-marks of certain aspects of human endeavour. Almost every aspect of endervour has its register, i.e. The special words that are used in discussing that endervour. For example, the legal register has court, lawyer, plaintiff, registrar, judge, dock, adjournment, service, fife trial, defendant etc.
So, you have to skim through the Collocation passage first to get a “gist” of what aspect of human endervour is being discussed – is it sports, religion, language, commerce, science, building, etc? It is after this that you can decide which words are to be used.