Sad to say, many interpreters sometimes interpret in the wake of terrible tragedies: natural disasters, armed hostilities, terrorist attacks, etc.
This is not a topic that gladdens my heart to write about, but I’m doing so because I know many of you (well, us) find it difficult to talk about this subject in our B language (or even in our A language).
There is a particular vocabulary that is necessary in these situations, including some set phrases and a whole lot of adjectives to describe what has happened and what the effects are.
In today’s post, I’m going to suggest a few exercises to help you consolidate this vocabulary. Some of the exercises are based on a speech given by Australia’s Foreign Minister, Penny Wong. You can find the full text of her speech here.
Exercise 1: brainstorming
First things first, let’s gather a selection of suitable adjectives for describing attacks or similar situations.
Grab a pen, set the timer for 2 minutes, and write a list of adjectives that would be good alternatives for the idea of ‘awful, disgusting’.
Exercise 2: brainstorming
Now set the timer for 2 minutes again, and write a list of adjectives that would be good alternatives for ‘shocking’. You may find that there is some overlap with your first list.
Exercise 3: gap filling
Can you fill in the blanks with words or phrases that are grammatically correct and make sense in context?
The Senate must __________ these acts of evil __________ a hateful group ____________ the destruction of the State of Israel and the eradication of Jews.
This was an assault on Israel, on the Jewish people.
But also an attack on our collective humanity.
We ___________ condemn these attacks, and we _____________ the immediate release of hostages.
Australia ____________ Israel, and always will.
Just as we always remember the thousands of years of persecution and atrocities perpetrated against the Jewish people…
The six million European Jews killed in the Holocaust…
That finally resolved the international community to establish the state of Israel.
And as more Jews were killed in this attack than on any single day since the Holocaust, we understand how it brings back that ________.
The attack by Hamas was ___________ in its brutality and its scale.
1,400 civilians murdered, 3,500 injured.
As many as 150 taken from Israel and held hostage in Gaza.
Men, women and children. From babies to the infirm and elderly. Holocaust survivors.
Place names that days ago were known to only a few, now ___________ in our memory.
I again __________ my __________ sympathies to those impacted by these _______________ acts.
We are shocked. We are horrified.
We grieve with you and we affirm our solidarity with you.
The Albanese Government’s _______________ has always been the pursuit of peace and progress toward a __________________ two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can live within secure borders.
One of the many _____________ consequences of Hamas’s _______________ attack is that it has pushed that two-state solution further out of reach.
That also makes this an __________________ perpetrated by Hamas against the Palestinian people.
Hamas’s actions have precipitated a _______________ situation in Israel and Gaza.
Civilians on all sides are suffering.
Regardless of religion or ethnicity, we _________________ each innocent life lost.
Exercise 4: improvisation
I’m going to give you two models to help you build sentences in English to describe attacks and their effects.
MODEL 1: an adjective attack on adjective noun [by adjective noun]:
• a callous attack on innocent civilians
•A cowardly attack on innocent people
•A shameful attack on unsuspecting civilians by a callous sociopath
•A horrendous attack on defenceless children
MODEL 2: a adjective(s) act of adjective noun [by adjective noun]
•An appalling act of senseless violence
•A vicious and contemptible act of brutal slaughter by a deranged extremist
•An unimaginable act of appalling, sickening cowardice
- Spend two minutes brainstorming adjectives to describe an attack, e.g. vicious, violent
2. Make up three sentences using model 1, and three sentences using model 2.