A dog, a cat, a horse… – these are probably some of the very first words that some of pupils learn at school in their English language class (foreign language class, of course). Seems easy enough.
Then, you learn there’s a lion but a lioness, a mare and a stallion, and so on – still not too difficult, especially because you’ll simply talk about a lion or a horse.
There are irregular nouns too: one mouse, two mice, one louse, two lice and the list goes on. Still, nothing really difficult as mice and lice are not the animals you often mention in casual conversations.
I remember the very first and the only one time in life when I actually used plural of ox in a conversation and that was when I was showing my pictures from holidays in Myanmar and I came across the one below:
That was 2008 and I don’t think I’ve ever said oxen after that.
Problems while travelling.
The more I travel I more ‘animal’ problems I have – I see animals in some foreign coutries and I might know the name only in English or only in Polish.
I went on a safari in Tanzania and when I saw the animal our guide said it was a hyrax. But then, I had no idea how to call hyrax in my native language and only after four days (when I had my wi-fi back) I was able to check.
Hyrax czyli góralek
Collective nouns for animals.
And this is exactly why I call English strange!
Why can’t there just be a herd or a group – isn’t it enough? Why did the English invent such bizzare names for groups of animals?
Just for the fun of it, I went through my photos to see which strange groups I’ve seen on my holidays, and here it is!
(I know that sometimes I should put a photo of more than a pair, but I simply could find andy suitable photos in my albums).
The animals I saw in twenty photos:
A school of fish:
(also called a catch/ haul/ run/ shoal of fish)
A a scourge of mosquitoes:
(I know you cannot really see any mosquitoes in the photo below, but believe me: there were thousands of them and I was bitten all over!)
A bloat of hippotamuses
(You’re lucky to see them just in the photo – the smelliest animals I’ve met!)
A zeal of zebras:
(also called a dazzle of zebras)
A memory of elephants:
(also called: a herd/ parade of elephants)
A cackle of hyenas:
(also called a clan of hyenas)
A coalition of cheetahs:
Weird, isn’t it?
I do regret I have no photos of cockroaches or crows.
I saw them in groups but it didn’t cross my mind to snap a picture. The cockroaches were so disgusting that I quickly turned my head away, and crows seemed to common to take any interest in them.
Now I regret I didn’t take the photos – it would be so good to finish the story showing the pictures of groups that I find the funniest: an intrusion of cockroaches and a murder of crows!