Thursday, 15 March 2012

Collective Nouns, Plural, and The Inebriation Scale

Collective nouns - you know, a herd of elephants, a gaggle of geese, a horde of hamsters, that sort of thing.

Who decides what collective noun gets used for a particular thing? Is there a committee (whose members, incidentally, are known by the collective noun "bickering", as in 'A bickering of committee members') that decides these things? And are these decisions final, or open to appeal?

I suppose that careful consideration goes in to choosing the correct noun. There could be a number of options, each of which is considered and then either put forward or rejected. Without this process, things could go amiss.

For example; Rapists. I don't know the collective noun for Rapists, or if one even exists - but if it did, I assume it would be something like 'A Violation' or something similar. What you don't want is to end up with something inappropriate, like 'A Cuddle' - that wouldn't do at all. 'A Cuddle of Rapists' just doesn't sound right.

Similarly, the collective noun for lightbulbs is hopefully something like 'An Inspiration', or 'An Idea' - or even, 'An Illumination'. If it turns out to be 'A Blackout', or 'A Darkness', then someone has missed a trick somewhere.

And what if, as a collective, you don't like the noun you have been given? Can you appeal to have it changed? Take Crows - the collective noun for Crows, is a 'Murder' - presumably because they are at the Tower of London (I don't know)?. Whatever the story behind it, it does paint Crows in rather a bad light.

So what if the Crows went to the Committee for Collective Noun Selection (Or the CCNS as it likes to be called, and tried to get it changed to something more likeable, like 'A Snuggle of Crows', or 'An Enjoyment of Crows'? Would they be successful?

Probably not. Because if they were, it would open the flood gates, and every thing that had ever been given a collective noun would be trying to change it. The collective world as we know it would be in peril!

If anyone does know the collective nouns for Rapists and for Lightbulbs, please tell me.

Plurals - no, not those mountains in Russia, plurals of words. I never know which is correct. Don't get me wrong - I know some, for example:

The plural of Octopus is actually 'Octopuses' - but 'Octopi' can also be used.

For Sheep it is Sheep, and for Mouse it is Mice - but I guess what I want to know is: is there a rule of thumb, and what is it?

Incidentally, where did the phrase 'Rule of Thumb' come from? Was there an ancient Tyrant King with massive thumbs who cruelly ruled his people, making all their decisions for them?

Anyway, what is the rule of thumb for plurals?

If you take 'Mouse' and 'Mice' as an example, you would think that a singular word ending in "ouse" would automatically have a plural ending in "ice" - but if that was the case, a residential street would be a row of Hice, several Game birds would be Grice, and your wife's seventeen work shirts would be her collection of Blice.
But as we know, it doesn't work that way.

Similarly, if The plural of Octopus can be both Octopuses AND Octopi, why can't the plural for Bus be Bi as well as Buses? If it was, the term 'Bi-curious' would just be another word for a type of train spotter.

If there are set rules (rules? Or ruleses? Or rulii?) for the use of plurals, I think they should be taught in Schooleses.

And finally.......

There appears to be a scale for everything: Earthquakes (Richter Scale), Hardness (Mohs Scale), Tornados (Fujita Scale), even Religious Beliefs (Dawkins Scale).

But not for drunkenness....

By the way, I personally think the Scale for measuring Religious Beliefs should be the "He's not the Messiah - he's a very naughty boy!" Scale.

Anyway, do you not think there should be a scale by which your drunkenness could be measured? Even if we went by the common most terms we use ourselves to describe ours and each others state of sobriety as individual levels, we could still come up with the following list (Apologies for the language used)

• Sober
• Tipsy
• Merry
• Tiddly
• Wobbly
• Pissed
• Legless
• Bladdered
• 3 Sheets To The Wind
• Blotto
• Hammered
• Shit-faced
• Paraletic
• Arseholed
• Wankered
• Lashed
• Plastered
• Trollied
• Sozzled
• Steaming
• Wasted
• Dead

And this isn't even the full list!

But all you would need to do is to have this list printed on a wall chart in varying fonts and sizes, going from Sober at the top to dead at the bottom. When you come stumbling in after a night out, whichever word you can actually focus on tells you how drunk you are.


Or if you've been drinking - 60% proof!

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