Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Words are Fun!

This is a rough for a book plate I'm going to have made up to help promote my new series. They'll be stickers which I sign then I'll post copies to the specialist books stores. Must brush up on my signature. Why did I choose a double barrel last name? LOL!

I've been at work all day marking UNI assignments so I plan to have a bit of fun with this blog tonight. It is amazing how many ways a student can abuse the English language. But then I have to remember that they aren't natural writers. They weren't born with a love for words.

Ever since I was a kid I've loved words, loved finding out their origins and playing with them. One thing that fascinates me is how the meanings and usage of words change over time. Once upon a time, we had collective nouns for groups of animals and birds because we needed them.

Here are some of my favourites:

A murder of crows.
An exhalation of larks.
An ostentation of peacocks.
A parliament of owls.

So descriptive and emotive. If you want to read more collective nouns take a look at the list on Wikipedia. (I tell my students you can't reference wiki but it is so useful for quick answers!).

By chance at college the other day we were talking about collective nouns and how they could be updated for the modern world. We came up with a few. And while I was preparing this post I found this site where they had fun with collective nouns.

An ambush of widows.
An attitude of teenagers.
An audit of accountants.
A fidget of altar boys.

These are the ones the other lecturers and I came up with:

An ignorance of students. (You can tell we'd had a bad day).
An exuberance of school students. (Especially at the end of term!).
A snoot of lecturers. (Yes, we can laugh at ourselves).

Now it is your turn. Can you think of a collective noun for readers, SF fans or bloggers?


Mike said...

A starter set:

A silence of readers (alluding to their absorption in your wonderful writing)

a con of sf fans (that was a giveaway:-)

and for the gold, how about a thread of bloggers (commenting, all in a line...)

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Ahhh, Mike, you're brilliant. I love them!

John Lambshead said...

A squabble of academics.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Great one, John. You cynic you!

I teach at Qantm College which is for games design, 3D animation and multi media, so we are all Dungeons and Dragons player types and not really very 'academic' in the traditional sense.

Jonathan D. Beer said...

I like the sound of this! :) I particularly like "an ambush of widows". My meagre contribution (I suspect a great deal of time will be spent this afternoon trying to come up with more):

A stagger of students (rather self-explanatory).

marilyn delabahan said...

Yeah.. great one.

John Lambshead said...

Dear Rowena
I didn't know you lectured in Game Design.
I have sold a number of commercial designs:



Rowena Cory Daniells said...

A stagger of students, Jonathan?

We can guess the company you kept at UNI! LOL

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Marilyn, you wouldn't be a student, would you????

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Wow, John, you have been busy.

I teach Narrative, which covers character, the hero's journey, the three act structure etc. The hope is that computer game writers will learn how to write.

So many games have very generic backgrounds and poor dialogue because they are written by people who only know games, not books. Or, they have read the books, they haven't read Terry Brooks, not Tolkien, or Beowulf.

And I teach script& dialogue, storyboard and animatics. (animated story boards).

John Lambshead said...

Dear Rowena
Yah. I storyboarded books and films for computer game designs.

I am credited with designing the first ever icon driven computer game - The Fourth Protocol.

I have a new Wargame coming out in a few months. David Drake's Hammers Slammers.


Stephen Simmons said...

An excellent topic, Rowena!

An exclamation of authors?
A web of bloggers?
(for space opera only) A fleet of fanboys?
Covens of con-goers?
A thicket of editors?

Kate said...

A book of readers.

A library of books (rather obvious)

A typo of authors.

A red ink of editors.

A red shirt of... well, red-shirted fans.

A flustercuck of editors (er. Also of programmers, or any other group you're not pleased with)

A swamp of fen.

Mike said...

I keep thinking one of these might work:

a peacock's tail of readers (with eyes all agog)


a peacock's tail of sf fans (with eyes all aglow, and full of hot air?)

This is almost as bad as haiku, or ... limericks!

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Stephen, they're all good, but I love these two:

An exclamation of authors -- particularly at a writers festival!

A fleet of fanboys (space opera) -- Absolutely!

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Ooooh Kate,

A swamp of fen.

The plural of fan. Very tricky, but SO good.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Mike, did you see the one for peacocks?

An ostentation of peacocks.

Here's a couple of more:

A mischief of mice. Love that one.
A page of wikipedians.

And this one made me wonder if it was real.

A neverthriving of jugglers.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

My third year English teacher gave us a list of these to memorize over a weekend and tested us on Monday. I think the only one I remember is "An exultation of larks."

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


What an odd thing for a teacher to do. They must have loved words for their own sake.

I wish I'd had a teacher like that.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

She was a teacher from the old school -- I think she taught in the caves at Lascaux :)

It was ESL. She made us memorize a lot of things -- lists of false friends (push in English means empurre, not puxe [read push] sort of thing); idiomatic expressions; irregular verbs;exceptions to grammatical rules; adverbial constructions. She'd spew out these lists of 200 items and expect us to remember them forever.

I hated the class with a burning passion, but if I'm now fluent in English, it is due to her. She laid a foundation I didn't have in any of the other languages.