Names for Different Groups of Animals?

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Bacle2
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Hi, All:

I've been curious about this for a while:

Why are there different names for different groups of animals?

We have ( I think) schools of fish,packs of wolves, etc.

I imagine it may have to see with the fact that groups of animals are organized differently.

Still, what is gained by using all the different names; can anyone tell the difference between a

school and a pack? Why not just call then all, say, packs, and just make the point that the

organizational structure of the groups is different?

I hope that's not too dumb. Thanks.
 

Answers and Replies

Simon Bridge
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We use collective nouns because they sound nicer ... there is also some economy.
Imagine you had to call every collection of something a "bunch" ... then, the farmer with cows and sheep and ducks saying "I've rounded up the bunch" would then have to use two more words to say which bunch.

Anyway - "bunch" is of flowers.

The particular choice of, say, "murder" rather than, say, "caucus", or or "caw", for a flock of crows is entirely due to historical accident. You can look up the origins online.
http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/collectives.htm

Note: some collective nouns are more useful than others ... i.e. saying "I saw a great big murder the other day" is more likely to put people in mind of a gruesome killing than a lot of crows. But they can make a fun way to describe something via metaphore ... especially if you make them up as in: a disagreement of internet users, an error of men, a conflagration of women, and a disapproval of mothers-in-law.
 
Bacle2
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Thanks, Simon, you are the Utility man here, doing Math, Biology , etc.
 
Evo
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Simon Bridge is awesomeness.
 
Simon Bridge
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...just means I can annoy real experts in a dozen fields...
 
Evo
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...just means I can annoy real experts in a dozen fields...
I just annoy everyone. :tongue:
 
Simon Bridge
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Don't fret... when you do your advanced degrees you too will get to specialize. :approve:
 
Bacle2
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Simon: I heard the magazine " Pancakes, Nuclear Weapons and Outdoor Weddings " Monthly ,is looking for an editor. Are you interested?
 
Last edited:
Simon Bridge
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Simon: I heard the magazine " Pancakes, Nuclear Weapons and Outdoor Weddings Monthly" is looking for an editor. Are you interested?
After first checking that is not actually a thing[1] LOL.

(Hmmm... I could have used such a publication to help me with my wedding...)

----------------------

[1] I know - but I have been caught out like that before.
This is the internet age.
 
Bacle2
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No, man, just a compliment. I too am trying to avoid over-specialization; like the cheesy joke:

" A specialist is someone who knows more and more about less and less, until s/he knows

everything about nothing"
 
jim mcnamara
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Attempting to refocus - those collective nouns for venery are unusual in English, IMO, in that they were "fabricated" largely over a period of time. 'Parliament of rocks' comes to mind as an egregious example (not venery though). Next we find 'murder of crows' coming in second.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_noun#Terms_of_venery_.28words_for_groups_of_animals.29

Non-Western English learners go nuts with collective nouns. Traditional Navajos used to say things like 'too many traffics' or 'lots of cattles' where words like traffic, army, cattle are or may be used as collective nouns.

I lost interest in when I hit a nide (of hippos).
 
Borek
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No, man, just a compliment. I too am trying to avoid over-specialization; like the cheesy joke:

" A specialist is someone who knows more and more about less and less, until s/he knows everything about nothing"
My favorite related quote: well educated people know something about everything, and everything about something.
 
Simon Bridge
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Perhaps there needs to be a collective noun for collections of groups already with their own collective nouns. i.e. two shepherds graze their flocks in adjacent fields. Notice the
plural on the collective?

What if there were a large number of adjacent fields, each with it's own flock ... what is a flock of flocks?

It should be fine to talk about "traffics" too ... but in that case it is a bit like infinities ... one stream of cars is traffic, two streams of cars is also traffic (singular) - but of a different kind.
All the traffic in the world is just one "traffic", but clearly not the same kind of traffic as the road outside my house.

Perhaps there needs to be an aleph notation for collectives?

Whichever the way you cut it: that's a flock of a lot of sheep!
 

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