Friday, July 8, 2011

Animal name game

While walking with a friend early this morning, he mentioned to me that he had once seen a poster that described how multitudes of animals are grouped.

"You know," he clarified, "like a covey of quail or a herd of cattle. It was really a neat poster. There was one for ravens that was really unique, too. Umm, I can't think of what they were called now. Wait a minute, it'll come to me. Umm. Umm."

Well, great. He never did think of it, which suddenly created this huge information void in my life. I had to know what a collection of ravens was called, and I was pretty sure it wasn't a poe of ravens. So when I got home, I hurried to my computer, where I googled "A covey of quail" and was presented with this site (see here).

It was awesome.

I quickly found out that a group of ravens was called an "Unkindness of ravens." Whoa. Who thought of that one? So I googled that and mostly found any number of bands that named themselves that. Or maybe it's the same band, I don't know. I'm still stuck on the Beatles. But I couldn't find the derivation of those unkind ravens.

Anyway, back to the chart, which really piqued my interest. Mostly, it's knowledge I'll never need, like algebra or calculus. But I was fascinated by some of the groupings nonetheless.

Like a "pace of asses", which sounds to me a whole lot like a collection of congressmen, also incorporating in the description the speed at which they move toward making legislation. "A tower of giraffes" seems logical enough, as does "a bloat of hippopotamuses" and "a crash of rhinosceroses."

"A murder of crows" puts me on edge, though.

Some bring a nice sense of alliteration, like "a cover of coots" or "a clowder of cats."

I suspect a bunch of old guys could be "a dementia of old coots."

Others are just illogical. Wouldn't "an army of herring" be better served if it were "a navy of herring?" Or "a fleet of herring?"

Some are simply wonderful. "A parliament of owls?" "An exaltation of larks?" "A convocation of eagles"? Although, I must say, I'd prefer "A regal of eagles."

This could go on, of course. But I don't want to be mistaken for a pace of... Never mind.

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