I added collective nouns to the animals featured in my last post and realise now that a lot of these names sound the way they mean, or describe how the group looks, or how they move or what they do. Had you heard that a group of crows or rooks or ravens is called “a storytelling?” Crows here, in Australia, are particularly talkative. I need to listen up!
Words have sounds, rhythms and quirkiness in them. As a ten year old, some of my weekly homework consisted of learning lists of words, by heart, from a cloth – bound edition of First Aid in English by Angus Mciver, a Scots headmaster (published in 1938 and still in print). Besides learning similes. plurals and tenses, we learned collective nouns. Fridays were test days and the competition was stiff. Here’s a few reminders –
A brace of deer ( two).
One jellyfish does not make a smack!
Living up to their name, a paddling of ducks.
Goats gather in trips. “Trip trap! Trip trap! Big Billy Goat Gruff?
A bale of turtles?
A school of dolphins – had these been porpoises this would have been a turmoil.
Lamentations of swans.
A Springtime flock with the odd black sheep.
Is this a brood? Might it be a ‘cuddle’ of ducklings? I know they hatch from a clutch of eggs…
Thankfully, I have only ever seen a trogle of snakes on TV. During the North American Spring, harmless Garter snakes emerge from hibernation, en masse! If you’re brave, see it here
And, just in case you’ve never seen a murmuration of starlings, here’s a clip from Gretna Green in Scotland.
All text and photos by Meg
Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.