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Collective nouns

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211625.  Thu Sep 20, 2007 7:00 am Reply with quote

May I suggest a compromise, then?

What about a surplice of catamites?

211626.  Thu Sep 20, 2007 7:01 am Reply with quote

One thing is for sure, in the catholic church, there will not be a surplus....



211630.  Thu Sep 20, 2007 7:08 am Reply with quote

JumpingJack wrote:
What about a surplice of catamites?

No thanks, I'm trying to give them up.

211763.  Thu Sep 20, 2007 1:31 pm Reply with quote

How many catatonic catamites could be concatenated into a catacomb?

211764.  Thu Sep 20, 2007 1:34 pm Reply with quote

That sounds like a catalyst for a catalogue of cataclysmic catastrophes, to me.

concatenating catatonic catamites into a catacomb could be a catalyst for a catalogue of cataclysmic catastrophes.

211893.  Fri Sep 21, 2007 2:30 am Reply with quote


gerontius grumpus
212326.  Fri Sep 21, 2007 5:45 pm Reply with quote

A murder of crows. Since crows are carrion eaters, shouldn't that be an undertaking of crows?

212341.  Fri Sep 21, 2007 6:06 pm Reply with quote

A case of lawyers.

212353.  Fri Sep 21, 2007 6:47 pm Reply with quote

djgordy wrote:
Arguably we could just have one word for any group of animals gathered together in number greater than 2. Why not just have "herd"? A herd of cattle, a herd of sheep, a herd of birds, a herd of fish, a herd of bees etc.

This is quite interesting actually. I've been trying to learn a bit of Japanese recently and with it comes a strange way of counting objects (which I don't fully understand, so please excuse any false information)...

They have the numbers 1, 2, 3, etc... but if you want to count objects, then you need an extra little word, for example, if you wanted two bottles, you'd ask for "2-hon" bottles, but if you were after sheets of paper, you'd ask for "2-mai" sheets of paper... hon seems to apply to long, thin objects, while mai applies to thin, flat objects...

But the fact that a herd of fish sounds strange to me just shows that it's not so strange after all! Herd, flock, shoal etc... all mean the same thing really, but we use each for different types of animal!

As for "A twat of footballers" surely it should be a dive of footballers ;)

212357.  Fri Sep 21, 2007 6:59 pm Reply with quote

That's very QI, flyo. Thanks.

212365.  Fri Sep 21, 2007 7:25 pm Reply with quote

It really is. I was aware of the concept from studies in years gone by, and having read this post was inspired to look up some details.

It being late though, I didn't go to a proper source but to, which was fortunate.

There are actually 106 of these josūshi or counter words, some of which are only used in conjunction with one noun. For instance, if and only if one is talking about warships, one must refer to 2-kan of them.

But now, the serendipitous thing. The counter word for poultry is wa; one must speak of 2-wa chickens. This word also applies to rabbits. According to the article, this is because

"Japanese Buddhist monks weren't allowed to eat any meat other than birds, but liked rabbit meat so much they came up with contrived evidence that rabbits are actually birds, their ears unusable wings."

212366.  Fri Sep 21, 2007 7:28 pm Reply with quote

Ha! Good to know it's not just Roman Catholics who can come up with piss-poor excuses for contravening dietary laws.

212367.  Fri Sep 21, 2007 7:36 pm Reply with quote

There is a similar thing found in English. When speaking of a number of cattle, one speaks of so many head of cattle. By a piece of linguistic coincidence, the Chinese numerical classifier for cattle means 'head' (or so I'm led to believe).

212871.  Sun Sep 23, 2007 10:35 pm Reply with quote

Still don't know the collective noun for Octopuses!! *sob*

212881.  Mon Sep 24, 2007 3:17 am Reply with quote

An erst of bees.

Many animals have multipe collective nouns associated with them. Check out, and take the collective noun test. Its quite interesting but because these quizzes are submitted by the general public, tey may not be 100% correct.


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