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"Words, words, words"
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Author:  DWill [ Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:02 pm ]
Post subject:  "Words, words, words"

Well, at least the name of the thread is from a literary heavy-hitter (Shakespeare in Hamlet).

Would you like to start with a topic that was turned into a delightful book some years ago, one that I had but have apparently lost? James Lipton wrote An Exaltation of Larks. It was about the names for collections of animals, and what I chiefly remember about the book was its great illustrations. Some of these names are still in use, like a pride of lions or a pod of whales, but many are oblsolete (such as an exaltation of larks). Okay, the challenge is to come up with other names that were once in use to designate groups of animals. This ought to be a piece of cake for Saffron.

Author:  Saffron [ Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Words, words, words"

DWill wrote:
This ought to be a piece of cake for Saffron.


You flatter me! Too tired tonight to think, but will give it my best tomorrow. Gaggle, still in use...as an elementary school student my daughter had this very challenge as a project.

Author:  Saffron [ Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:11 pm ]
Post subject: 

DWill, your mention of your missing book reminds me of a somewhat similar book I once had titled, Poplollies & Bellibones: A Celebration of Lost Words..

Author:  DWill [ Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Words, words, words"

Saffron wrote:
DWill wrote:
This ought to be a piece of cake for Saffron.


You flatter me! Too tired tonight to think, but will give it my best tomorrow. Gaggle, still in use...as an elementary school student my daughter had this very challenge as a project.

Heck, if an elementary school student can handle it, maybe we can too!

Author:  Saffron [ Tue Sep 29, 2009 7:17 am ]
Post subject: 

I didn't realize it last night, but DWill picked a perfect place to begin an exploration of words. The words we have used to describe groups of animals is poetry at its core. As I researched (not cheating) this topic I was reminded that naming is one of the oldest aspects of language; one of the primary impetus for its existence. Sounds that could stand for a thing. I would imagine the more the sounds matched or described the thing itself the better. Isn't poetry all about using sounds and images to name or describe? Isn't the aim of poetry to convey an idea with succinct language that creates a sharp vivid response in the reader?

How's this -- A Murder of Crows or An Unkindness of Ravens.

Back to the topic at hand: collective nouns for animals. I noticed that the words grouped together into about 3 main groups.
1. Words that had as there only or primary meaning the specific group of animals or a group of animals, ex. cete of badger and a herd of _______
2. Words that basically denote a group, ex gulp of swallows (gulp means a small amount or few in number), grist of bees (grist meaning a lot or a quantity of something).
3. Descriptive -- Sleuth of bear (an obsolete meaning for sleuth is slowness, sloth or laziness). I think Sedge of crane fit here too, but am not sure. It seems crane are often seen in the sedge grasses???
4. Anthropomorphic - terms used to mean a group that imbues a sense of a gathering of humans with a purpose (these are my favorites), ex. Congregation of Crocodile (also used with various birds), Convocation of Eagle, and my favorite, Ascension of Larks.

A last thought -- I notices that very often there is an alliteration between the word meaning the group and the name of the animal.

How'd I do?

Author:  DWill [ Tue Sep 29, 2009 8:17 am ]
Post subject: 

Saffron wrote:
and my favorite, Ascension of Larks.

A last thought -- I notices that very often there is an alliteration between the word meaning the group and the name of the animal.

How'd I do?

You did great--home run. Interesting that there is another term for a bunch of larks besides exaltation. I wonder what's behind all of this for the people who coined these terms. Was it a kind of parlor game, do you think, an entertainment done out of the pure pleasure in words, or was there some sense of it really being fitting to have special words attached to animals? Did it indicate a closer relationship to nature (after all, how many of us even would know what larks are)? Today, we don't care much about what to call animal groups. But we have a zillion words to describe the things that are most important to us, mostly involving technology, it seems.

I'll try to make a better contribution later on.

Author:  Suzanne [ Tue Sep 29, 2009 2:59 pm ]
Post subject: 

I tried to combine all of Saffrons examples into one, here goes:

An asylum of institutionalized languishing loons

:smile:

A group of loons are also called a "water dance".

A water dance troop of limber loons

I'm afraid I'm not very good at this, but it sure is fun!

Author:  Saffron [ Fri Oct 02, 2009 7:47 am ]
Post subject: 

Suzanne wrote:
I tried to combine all of Saffrons examples into one, here goes:

An asylum of institutionalized languishing loons



Now there is a mouth full! Love the alteration.

Author:  Saffron [ Fri Oct 02, 2009 7:52 am ]
Post subject: 

Should we have a new challenge? Words for funny articles of clothing? My daughter and I had quite a laugh over what might be the origin of codpiece. It seems to me that some of the words are very descriptive of the article of clothing they name; such as wimple.


A postscript: I am sorry to say that codpiece has nothing to do with fish, but rather the word cod comes from Old English codd, bag.

Author:  Saffron [ Thu Oct 08, 2009 6:24 pm ]
Post subject: 

Hey! Anyone out there reading? I'd like a word with you!

:D

Author:  Gem [ Sun Oct 25, 2009 5:33 am ]
Post subject:  Collective nouns

I don't know if anyone watches QI, but recently the were discussing how the collective noun for gorillas; a "flange" of gorillas, came into usage. Apparently it was used as a joke on Not the Nine O'Clock News, but then people started actually using it in academic discussions of gorillas.

My favourite has to be a murder of crows though.

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