killed by a bullet

Discussion in 'English Only' started by taked4700, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. taked4700 Senior Member

    Kagoshima
    japanese japan
    He gave the order for all the foreigners to be killed, so there was a mass execution, many hostages were killed by a bullet to the head
    http://news.yahoo.com/inside-job-2-canadian-militants-algerian-siege-181803197--finance.html

    Hi,

    The above sentence I came across reading an article about an Algeria plant slaughter case seems unidiomatic.



    I guess that it should be "killed with a bullet to the head".

    What do you say to this?

    Thanks in advance,.

     
  2. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    Either is correct.
     
  3. taked4700 Senior Member

    Kagoshima
    japanese japan
    Thank you, Parla.

    With your explanation understood, it seems to me that it is also correct to say, "This guy was killed by a pen made of depleted uranium."

    What do you think of this?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  4. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    I think it is Ok, just like killed by thunder.
     
  5. taked4700 Senior Member

    Kagoshima
    japanese japan
    Thank you, LilianaB.
     
  6. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    I think that taked makes a good point, and on reflection I would avoid killed by a bullet to the head. It seems to me to be trying to shift blame away from the human wielding the gun. I would not normally use the word "by" to refer to a tool such as a bullet. As the OED says under use 30 of the preposition by: a. Introducing the means or instrumentality: = by means of... (The material instrument or tool is usually introduced by with: ‘to cut with a knife’.) Admittedly, the OED does provide these examples of instrumentalities that approach the status of "tools", but these sound very literary usages to me: 1769 O. Goldsmith Rom. Hist. II. 475 He..at last died either by poison or madness.
    1856 C. Kingsley Glaucus (ed. 3) 122 The bird's foot star..you may see crawling by its thousand sucking-feet.
    I have never heard of thunder killing anyone.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013
  7. taked4700 Senior Member

    Kagoshima
    japanese japan
    Thank you, Se16teddy.

    Your quote is of a great help for me.

    Thanks again,
    taked4700
     
  8. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Killed by a stray bullet is something you, unfortunately, hear a lot, in the news in AE at least.
     
  9. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    Killed by a stray bullet sounds grammatically fine to me, though still ethically suspect, because we also say A stray bullet killed him. By is here used in the usual way with a passive verb. On the other hand, if we say A bullet to the head killed him we are more clearly trying to shift the blame on to the bullet. I suppose that A bullet to the head killed him strikes me as more evasive than A stray bullet killed him because I am more likely to accept that a stray bullet is an accident; a bullet to the head sounds intentional, at least in the context of the Algerian siege it does.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013
  10. taked4700 Senior Member

    Kagoshima
    japanese japan
    Thank you, LilianaB.

    I know it. Stray bullets seem they have their own will. So, a stray bullet kills a man by itself, which makes it idiomatic to say, "Someone was killed by a stray bullet."

    But I think pens do not have their own will, so I'm afraid it would not be idiomatic to say, "This guy was killed by a pen made of depleted uranium."

    Thanks in advance.
     
  11. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    With might be better. Just like killed with a sword, or a knife.
     
  12. taked4700 Senior Member

    Kagoshima
    japanese japan
    Thank you, LilianaB.

    With your post, I've got inspired. You are really inspiring.
     

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