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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Collective nouns

 

One of the craziest oddities of the English language is that there are so many different collective nouns that all mean "group", many beautiful and evocative, even poetic.

I mean, you couldn't get more evocative than a damning of jurors, an incredulity of cuckolds, a murder of crows, a misbelief of painters, a parliament of owls, a bloat of hippopotamuses, or a superfluity of nuns, could you? (For more, buy yourself the book "An Unkindness of Ravens")

Just don't mention the word 'swarm'. The British prime minister David Cameron just did when he spoke of "a swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean". and the Thought Police immediately jumped on him for forgetting that he was "talking about people and not insects" and "dehumanising" them.

What a bunch of - no, not grapes - wankers!