Hi all,
Can anyone confirm whether the phrase "a lamentation of swans" is the correct collective description for a number of swans on land (or water). If you think it is, do you have a reference that provides some sort of authority? Is it British English or perhaps American? I can't seem to find any definitive reference, and only 25 google hits doesn't convince me.

Regards,
Jon
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Hi all, Can anyone confirm whether the phrase "a lamentation of swans" is the correct collective description for a number ... English or perhaps American? I can't seem to find any definitive reference, and only 25 google hits doesn't convince me.

You'll have to explain what your standards are for deeming any of those uses "correct." Nobody really talks about a lamentation of swans, or a murmuration of starlings, or any of that nonsense. "Look at that murmuration of starlings in that tree!" No. A flock of birds, a herd of animals, a very few other terms, that's what people say.

I dislike all those "terms of venery" I've seen very little evidence that any real people ever used them, and a certain amount that people sat around and made them up out of thin air.
So lamentation is on a few lists, lamentation is not used in real life.

Best wishes Donna Richoux
Hi all, Can anyone confirm whether the phrase "a lamentation of swans" is the correct collective description for a number of swans

No - it's a piece of fakery.

Paul
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Hi all, Can anyone confirm whether the phrase "a lamentation of swans" is the correct collective description for a number ... English or perhaps American? I can't seem to find any definitive reference, and only 25 google hits doesn't convince me.

How many hits would it take to convince you? There are words I am convinced of the correctness of that yield fewer than 25 Google hits.

The phrase is probably real enough as such collective descriptions go (though I have no reference that provides any kind of authority). But huge numbers of these collective nouns have been coined (http://www.eaglecreek.org/zinearch2.html), and most reek of preciousness and could hardly be used except in lists of collective nouns, and sentences that assert, deny, or query, their existence.

Gerald Smyth
I dislike all those "terms of venery" I've seen very little evidence that any real people ever used them, and a certain amount that people sat around and made them up out of thin air.

I agree with this completely. I participate in online trivia chat rooms, and I hate pop-culture questions (because can seldom answer any), but the questions I hate the most are collective noun and phobia questions. There are likewise lists of obscure phobias floating around on the internet that people seem to know and love, but I have severe doubts as to whether they actually constitute medical terms, and, indeed, if anyone has ever been diagnosed with some of the more ridiculous ones.

Sebastian.
There are likewise lists of obscure phobias floating around on the internet that people seem to know and love, ... they actually constitute medical terms, and, indeed, if anyone has ever been diagnosed with some of the more ridiculous ones.

Blatant neologophobia, Seb.
Matti
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I dislike all those "terms of venery" I've seen very little evidence that any real people ever used them, and a certain amount that people sat around and made them up out of thin air.

You mean there's no coterie of prairie dogs?
(Email Removed) filted:
I dislike all those "terms of venery" I've seen ... sat around and made them up out of thin air.

You mean there's no coterie of prairie dogs?

I think Donna's overreacting here...I can't bring myself to say "a bunch of lions attacked a whole group of zebras"...some of those terms are simply obligatory goats in trips, whales in pods and to say anything else is as awkward as eating sushi with a fork..r
R H Draney (Email Removed) wrote on 30 Nov 2003:
You mean there's no coterie of prairie dogs?

I think Donna's overreacting here...I can't bring myself to say "a bunch of lions attacked a whole group of zebras"...some of those terms are simply obligatory goats in trips, whales in pods and to say anything else is as awkward as eating sushi with a fork..r

Whales in pods are one thing, but goats in trips? Whatever happened to goats in herds? I didn't know that goatherds were daytrippers.

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.
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