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101 Collective Nouns by Jennifer Cossins

by Catherine Van Bergen (follow)
Non fiction (105)      Australian (42)      Illustrations (24)      Animals (16)      Language (1)     

The English language can be a funny thing.

Almost everything has a name, and if it doesn’t, we have created synonyms to describe what we can’t give a label to. Even stranger are the collective terms we use to describe a group of something, in particular, a species of plant or animal. These can be varied, and often, through the course of years, the original reason for that collective name is lost. But many of these names persist, whether they are created from onomatopoeia (sound association), behaviour, habitat or other characteristics.

Tasmanian illustrator Jennifer Cossins is fascinated with the linguistic world, and as an avid animal lover, has combined her passions to create this handy illustrated reference to collective nouns. In her introduction, she explains that while there can be several legitimate grouping terms for one particular animal, in this case she has chosen the one that she feels best describes the animal in question. She details her interest in the topic, and gives a short history regarding the creation of many of the collective nouns we know today. She then showcases her animal illustrations, giving a page to each animal and its relevant collective name.

We’ve all heard terms like ‘a gaggle of geese’, ‘a pride of lions’ or ‘a pack of dogs’, but there are plenty of unusual ones in this book too, which ultimately make a lot of sense when you think of the animal group the name is describing. Names like, for example, ‘a bask of crocodiles’, ‘a crash of rhinoceroses’ or ‘an ostentation of peacocks’, among many others.

This is an informative and beautifully illustrated book and readers are sure to learn something new and unexpected when they peruse the pages.

Rating: 4/5
Published: June 2017

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