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  • In linguistics, a collective noun is a collection of things taken as a whole. For example, in

  • the phrase "a pride of lions", pride is a collective noun.

  • Most collective nouns in everyday speech, such as "group", are mundane and are not specific

  • to a kind of object. For example, the terms "group of people", "group of dogs", and "group

  • of ideas" are all correct uses. Others, especially words belonging to the large subset of collective

  • nouns known as terms of venery, are specific to one kind of constituent object. For example,

  • "pride" as a term of venery refers to lions, but not to dogs or cows.

  • Collective nouns should not be confused with mass nouns, or with the collective grammatical

  • number.

  • Derivational collectives Derivation accounts for many collective words.

  • Because derivation is a slower and less productive word formation process than the more overtly

  • syntactical morphological methods, there are fewer collectives formed this way. As with

  • all derived words, derivational collectives often differ semantically from the original

  • words, acquiring new connotations and even new denotations.

  • The English endings -age and -ade often signify a collective. Sometimes the relationship is

  • easily recognizable: baggage, drainage, blockade. However, even though the etymology is plain

  • to see, the derived words take on quite a special meaning.

  • German uses the prefix Ge- to create collectives. The root word often undergoes umlaut and suffixation

  • as well as receiving the Ge- prefix. Nearly all nouns created in this way are of neuter

  • gender. Examples include: das Gebirge, "group of mountains, mountain

  • range", from der Berg, "mountain" das Gepäck, "luggage, baggage" from der Pack,

  • "pack, bundle, pile" das Geflügel, "poultry, fowl" from late MHG

  • gevlügel(e), under the influence of der Flügel, "wing", from MHG gevügel, from OHG gifugili

  • = collective formation, from fogal, "bird" das Gefieder, "plumage" from die Feder, "feather"

  • In Swedish one example is the different words for mosquitos in the collective form and in

  • the individual form: mygga, plural: myggor

  • mygg Metonymic merging of grammatical number

  • Two good examples of collective nouns are "team" and "government", which are both words

  • referring to groups of people. Both "team" and "government" are count nouns.. However,

  • confusion often stems from the fact that plural verb forms are often used in British English

  • with the singular forms of these count nouns. Conversely, in the English language as a whole,

  • singular verb forms can often be used with nouns ending in "-s" that were once considered

  • plural. This apparent "number mismatch" is actually a quite natural and logical feature

  • of human language, and its mechanism is a subtle metonymic shift in the thoughts underlying

  • the words. In British English, it is generally accepted

  • that collective nouns can take either singular or plural verb forms depending on the context

  • and the metonymic shift that it implies. For example, "the team is in the dressing room"

  • refers to the team as an ensemble, while "the team are fighting among themselves" refers

  • to the team as individuals. This is also British English practice with names of countries and

  • cities in sports contexts; for example, "Germany have won the competition.", "Madrid have lost

  • three consecutive matches.", etc. In American English, collective nouns almost invariably

  • take singular verb forms. In cases where a metonymic shift would be otherwise revealed

  • nearby, the whole sentence may be recast to avoid the metonymy. See Comparison of American

  • and British English - Formal and notional agreement.

  • A good example of such a metonymic shift in the singular-to-plural direction is the following

  • sentence: "The team have finished the project." In that sentence, the underlying thought is

  • of the individual members of the team working together to finish the project. Their accomplishment

  • is collective, and the emphasis is not on their individual identities, yet they are

  • at the same time still discrete individuals; the word choice "team have" manages to convey

  • both their collective and discrete identities simultaneously. A good example of such a metonymic

  • shift in the plural-to-singular direction is the following sentence: "Mathematics is

  • my favorite academic subject." The word "mathematics" may have originally been plural in concept,

  • referring to mathematic endeavors, but metonymic shiftthat is, the shift in concept from

  • "the endeavors" to "the whole set of endeavors"—produced the usage of "mathematics" as a singular entity

  • taking singular verb forms. Nominally singular pronouns can be collective

  • nouns taking plural verbs, according to the same rules that apply to other collective

  • nouns. For example, it is correct British English or American English usage to say:

  • "None are so fallible as those who are sure they're right." In this case, the plural verb

  • is used because the context for "none" suggests more than one thing or person.

  • Terms of venery

  • The tradition of using "terms of venery" or "nouns of assembly"—collective nouns that

  • are specific to certain kinds of animalsstems from an English hunting tradition of the Late

  • Middle Ages. The fashion of a consciously developed hunting language came to England

  • from France. It is marked by an extensive proliferation of specialist vocabulary, applying

  • different names to the same feature in different animals. These elements can be shown to have

  • already been part of French and English hunting terminology by the beginning of the 14th century.

  • In the course of the 14th century, it became a courtly fashion to extend the vocabulary,

  • and by the 15th century, this tendency had reached exaggerated proportions. The Venerie

  • of Twiti distinguished three types of droppings of animals, and three different terms for

  • herds of animals. Gaston Phoebus had five terms for droppings of animals, which were

  • extended to seven in the Master of the Game. The focus on collective terms for groups of

  • animals emerges in the later 15th century. Thus, a list of collective nouns in Egerton

  • MS 1995, dated to c. 1452 under the heading of termis of venery &c. extends to 70 items,

  • and the list in the Book of Saint Albans runs to 165 items, many of which, even though introduced

  • by the compaynys of beestys and fowlys, do not relate to venery but to human groups and

  • professions and are clearly humorous. The Book of Saint Albans became very popular

  • during the 16th century and was reprinted frequently. Gervase Markham edited and commented

  • on the list in his The Gentleman's Academic in 1595. The book's popularity had the effect

  • of perpetuating many of these terms as part of the Standard English lexicon, even though

  • they have long ceased to have any practical application. Even in their original context

  • of medieval venery, the terms were of the nature of kennings, intended as a mark of

  • erudition of the gentlemen able to use them correctly rather than for practical communication.

  • The popularity of these terms in the early modern and modern period has resulted in the

  • addition of numerous light-hearted, humorous or "facetious" collective nouns.

  • See also Linguistics concepts

  • Grammatical number Mass noun

  • Measure words Plural

  • Plurale tantum Synesis

  • Lists List of collective nouns for all subjects

  • List of animal names, including names for groups

  • English language Wiktionary appendix of collective nouns

  • Interdisciplinary Social unit

  • References

  • Further reading Hodgkin, John. Proper Terms: An attempt at

  • a rational explanation of the meanings of the Collection of Phrases in "The Book of

  • St Albans", 1486, entitled "The Compaynys of beestys and fowlys" and similar lists.,

  • Transactions of the Philological Society 1907-1910 Part III, pp 1 – 187, Kegan, Paul, Trench

  • & Trübner & Co, Ltd, London, 1909. Shulman, Alon. A Mess of Iguanas... A Whoop

  • of Gorillas: An Amazement of Animal Facts. Penguin. ISBN 978-1-84614-255-0.

  • Lipton, James. An Exaltation of Larks, or The "Veneral" Game. Penguin.; in 1993 it was

  • republished in Penguin with The Ultimate Edition as part of the title with the ISBN 0-14-017096-0

  • Hardcover Paperback PatrickGeorge. A filth of starlings. PatrickGeorge.

  • ISBN 978-0-9562558-1-5. PatrickGeorge. A drove of bullocks. PatrickGeorge.

  • ISBN 978-0-9562558-0-8.

In linguistics, a collective noun is a collection of things taken as a whole. For example, in

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