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AWADmail Issue 178September 20, 2005
A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages
From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Here are some selections from hundreds of collective nouns you sent:
From: Stephen Harding (stephen.hardingATcanberra.edu.au)
I work at a university and a few years ago we had an informal competition for collective nouns. I can't remember all the submissions but some I remember were: a bottle of aspros (for a group of Associate Professors - 'Aspros' are, or were, a brand of headache medicine), a dither of deans, and my favourite - a vacuum of Vice-Chancellors.
From: Amy Karatz (afoureyesATrcn.com)
Over 40 years ago James Lipton wrote a wonderful book on collective nouns, An Exaltation of Larks. It is still in print. What most people don't know is that the author is the same James Lipton that now interviews the stars on 'Inside the Actor's Studio'.
From: Stan Ward (stan.wardATwiltel.com)
Another meaning of 'sounder' is in radio, where it refers to a brief clip of music and/or a phrase that is used to remind the listener what station he is listening to, or what program is coming up. Not the same as a station ID, it might be a few bars of a popular song behind a phrase like 'All your favorite music', but is supposed to be associated with the station or program in the listener's mind.
KSHE-95, St. Louis's venerable FM rock station, has a pig for a mascot named 'Sweet Meat'. A squeal is occasionally used on the air in jingles and ads - literally, a 'sounder of swine'.
From: Bruce Sloane (sloaneATcrosslink.net)
I suppose if the pigs are grunting loudly, you have a sounder of sounders.
From: Bill Keener (keener.billATepamail.epa.gov)
I coined for a group of birds that are not normally known to flock -- hummingbirds. Of course they were never hunted, and never had the status of a covey, team, etc. But they do come together at feeders hung in gardens, where they whirr and hover as they compete for the sugar water. I think it is appropriate to refer to the resulting show as chandelier of hummingbirds.
From: Patrick Leonard (leonardpATcomcast.net)
I bought a Toyota Prius last year and have been so happy with it that four of my friends have also purchased one. Seeing a driveway full of these cars prompted me to propose a plural (Prii) and a group name (battery). So whenever you see more than one of these cars together you are looking at a battery of Prii.
From: Sarah Karni (smkarniATyahoo.com)
Two newly-applied words to describe h
uman groups come to mind: How about a tangle of hairdressers?
And as an attorney, myself, I feel justified in suggesting that you could describe a group of lawyers as a "case", embodying allusions to not only the obvious work-related term, but also to the group's proclivity for drinking and, further, descriptive of the accompanying trouble lawyers can represent (as in "coming down with a case of lawyers").
From: Ross Miller (boatmillerATsnet.net)
Q: Often when one sees a skein of geese overhead, one side of the V-formation is longer than the other. Why is that?
A: Because there are more geese on that side.
From: Mike Pope (mike.popeATmicrosoft.com)
One thing that strikes me about these collective nouns for animals is the extent to which they anthropomorphize their subjects -- a skulk of foxes, a murder of crows, etc. Animals are just going about their business as best they can; they do not (as far as we know) consciously violate our precepts of moral behavior. Yet we judge their behavior by our own standards ... :-)
From: Winkie Campbell-Notar (winkcnATearthlink.net)
Ginza, referred to in the last AWADmail as Gold Street means 'silver' not gold. Gold in Japanese is 'kin' as in Kinkakuji, a golden-colored temple in Kyoto.
No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous. -Henry Brooks Adams, historian (1838-1918)