Demonetising and demoralising

Let me first discuss the collocation of the word surprise.

Published: 14th November 2016 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th November 2016 02:56 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

The announcement by the Prime Minister of India last Tuesday that 500 and 1,000 rupee currency notes will cease to be legal tender came as a big surprise for everyone. A newspaper report described it as “a stunning surprise”. The actual phrase in the report was: “to deliver a stunning surprise”. A reader from Coimbatore called me and raised this query: Is ‘deliver’ a proper collocation in the phrase “to deliver a stunning surprise”? Another reader shot me an email with a request to discuss the words in the text of Prime Minister Modi’s speech. Good suggestions, indeed!

Let me first discuss the collocation of the word surprise. I have come across many sentences where ‘deliver’ is used with the word ‘surprise’. In this context, the word ‘deliver’ means ‘to do something as promised’. Here is an example: Trump backers realise they’ve been played as WikiLeaks fails to deliver October surprise.  It is similar to the expression ‘to spring a surprise’ which means ‘to do or say something that is not expected’. Some of the common verbs that collocate with the word are express, register, show, hide, cause, feign.
The Prime Minister in his speech said, “To break the grip of corruption and black money, we have decided that the 500 and 1,000 currency notes presently in use will no longer be legal tender from midnight tonight, that is November 8, 2016.” ‘To break the grip of corruption and black money’ is a beautiful expression. ‘To break one’s grip’ is a phrase. The word ‘grip’ collocates with these verbs: have, get, take, lose, keep, strengthen, tighten, loose, relax, slacken, change, and shift.

My three favourite words and phrases related to various reports on the banning of 500 and 1,000 are: 1) legal tender, 2) to demonetise, and 3) to scrap
The Business Dictionary defines legal tender as “denomination of a country’s currency that, by law, must be accepted as a medium for commercial exchange and payment for a money debt”. A simpler definition, in plain English, can be found in Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, which defines the term as “the money which can be officially used in a country”.
The verb form of demonetisation is demonetise. It means to deprive a denomination of a currency of its status as money. A simpler definition is ‘to withdraw money from use’ or ‘to officially stop using a particular currency’.
- The need for demonetising 500 and 1,000 rupee notes is not an unprecedented move.
- The need for demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes was well expressed in a Tamil movie years ago.

Dr Albert P'Rayan is an ELT Resource Person and Professor of English. He can be contacted at


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