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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Funky Definitions

A funky member of Parliament. The funkiest, in fact.

(written on my tablet during downtime, please excuse typos) 

We sit in Supreme Court, waiting... There is lots of waiting. It is awfully exhausting to sit around and do nothing.

My table mate and I joke and chat casually, but mostly we read in between hearing cases (sorry, no details allowed).

I am doing some research until the very personification of my villain walks into the courtroom or emerges fully formed into my head.

Meanwhile, I do research and have found an interesting tidbit.

I have always been curious about the nomenclature used when classifying groups of animals. Animal collective nouns are funny sometimes and I wonder what immigrants, learning the English language as adults make of it -- assuming they get this far in their language immersion.

I am not entirely sure native speakers are particularly familiar with these congregations either, and wonder if the knowledge of such things has fallen to the wayside when schools determine curricula to save or discard in the age of test scores ruling the education game.

Today I've learned that a group of ravens may be called a congress, conspiracy, parliament or unkindness. That the first and the third may be synonymous with the second and last nouns fills me with glee.

At the same time, I've learned that the collective noun for crows may be horde, hover, murder, muster or parcel. Here you find five words that wouldn't seem to have antyhing in common, given the immediate definition that comes to mind for each.

Further research indicates that some nouns are repeated and apply to more than one grouping of animals. Baboons form a congress; owls and rooks form parliaments; peacoks are also known as musters; and, gnats, hamsters, mice, and wolves are called hordes.

Details of where these names originated or why they stuck are a mystery to me, but endlessly entertaining in their potential for obscure puns. Although I wonder if calling Congress "baboons in D.C." won't confuse the issue (as well as be offensive to baboons in general).

The other consideration is whether to freely use this knowledge in my writing. I write for my own amusement and pride myself in the assertion that my readers are smart folks (and a few smartasses, you know who you are!).

One wants the meaning to be understood, and yet it has always been clear to me that once written, the message becomes whatever the reader ascribes to the words.

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