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Saturday, June 26, 2010

An Exaltation of Larks

Once, during my undergraduate study when I was an English major working on my bachelor's degree, one of my professors introduced the concept of collective nouns for animals through James Lipton's book, An Exaltation of Larks. It's something that has stuck with me ever since.

A collective noun is the term used to describe a "group" of something. There are the common ones that we hear all the time like "a herd of cattle" or "a flock of geese," but there are some collective terms that are downright beautiful, and others that are just plain weird. Some examples you might not have heard of - including the title of this post- are:
  • Shrewdness of apes
  • Chain of boblolinks (what the heck is a bobolink?!)
  • Wake of buzzards (seems fitting
  • Kindle of kittens
  • Scold of jays (is that why they seem like they're always yelling at each other?
  • Smack of jellyfish
  • Leep of leopards
  • Watch of nightingales
  • Bevy of otter
  • Bouquet of pheasants (sounds lovely!)
  • Passel of possum
  • Storytelling of ravens
  • Harem of Seals (those crazy seals!)
  • Knot of toads

There are many, many more collectives that can be found here. I have a couple less eloquent terms I'd like to add to the list:

  • Tumbleweed of doghair
  • Mountain of laundry
  • Stack of dirty dishes
  • Eternity of homework
  • Rotation of bills
  • Foot of weeds

Obviously, I could think of tons more. The English language can be so much fun, don't you agree?

This blog entry brought to you by the murder of crows outside my window every morning starting at 4am. They make my mornings sound like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

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