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  • You have repeated the “heavy wind” example a second time, but it is a perfectly acceptable “chunk!” At first I thought it might be US English, but the first listing from a Google search of “heavy wind” produced a headline from The Telegarph (12 April 2008): “Northern England hit with heavy wind and rain.”

  • While 7,000 instances of ‘commit’ + ‘crime’ certainly sounds like a large number, it has to be put in context. It comes out to about 3.5 instances per million words. In the Corpus of Contemporary American English, the collocation occurs about 3.0 times PMW. This is indeed rare, not so rare that native speakers of English will find it in any way unfamiliar, but I think more folks would agree that three in a million is rare.

    Michael confounds the idea that “collocation [in general] is an essential part of the way we communicate” with the idea that a particular collocation is therefore also important. Nevertheless, I can accept that his sense of rare is not what mine is. But if Michael argues that collocations occurring at the rate of three in a million must be taught, then I take it he would certainly content that most collocations more common than that (those that aren’t predictable at least) must also be taught. And by the same criteria, individual words occurring more commonly than that should also be taught.

    Well, it depends on how you count words, but this probably means something like 10,000 word families or so should be taught. And if we estimate that each has three collocations in this frequency range, that requires the teaching of 40,000 items. Surely, the impracticalities of this endeavour begin to become clear.