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Animal plurals/collective nouns (was Re: Re: irregularconlangs)

From:Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
Date:Tuesday, October 5, 1999, 23:19
Eric Christopherson wrote:
> Hey! That reminds me: does anyone know why English has such bizarre plurals > and collective nouns for animals? A lot of wild animal names seem to be the > same in the singular and plural, such as buffalo, moose, etc.
Well, game animals are regularly made in the plural with no change, even a word like "duck" is normally used as a plural when speaking of hunting, as in "How many duck did you get?". Apparently an analogical leveling based on "deer" and one or two other common game animals. (A survival in turn of the old gender system?) Besides, everyone knows that "moose"'s plural is "meese". ;-)
> I mean things such as a pride of lions, gaggle of geese, > etc. Some of these words are so out there as to make me think someone > invented them to be silly, such as a memory of elephants. But how did they > reach such currency?
Hmm, a closet conlanger making dictionaries? :-) But seriously, that's a good question. Does this occur in many other natlangs? That is, using odd collectives?
> Obligatory conlang content: Does anyone's conlang do this? :)
Nope, mine's pretty boring, just uses the prefix wa-pati- (/pAtSi/) for groups of anything (wa- is gender 7 prefix), examples: sutaki' (person) - wapatitaki' (crowd) sunananga'dya (warrior) - wapatinananga'dya (army) ... and so on. -- Oh Lord, grant that we may always be right, for thou knowest we will never change our mind. - Scots Prayer ICQ: 18656696 AIM Screen-Name: NikTailor