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Animal plurals/collective nouns (was Re: Re: irregular conlangs)

From:Eric Christopherson <raccoon@...>
Date:Tuesday, October 5, 1999, 21:56
----- Original Message -----
From: Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
To: Multiple recipients of list CONLANG <CONLANG@...>
Sent: Thursday, September 30, 1999 6:26 PM
Subject: Re: irregular conlangs

> Daniel Andreasson wrote: > > It seems to me that there should be some correlation > > between frequency and irregularity. There should be > > a border somewhere, where a word isn't so frequent > > anymore that it becomes irregular. > > Somewhat true. Because it's more difficult to learn irregular forms, if > they're not common. Which is why some people say "oxes" rather than > "oxen", since "ox" is no longer very common in most people's speach.
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. As for collective nouns, 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? (Granted, most people don't talk of memories of elephants, but it is pretty common to talk about prides of lions.) Obligatory conlang content: Does anyone's conlang do this? :)