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We're all familiar with `a flock of sheep' but what are the collective nouns for racehorses, pigs, zebras or giraffes? Drawing on a range of sources, from fifteenth-century hunting terms to more recent inventions that have now entered the language, this book collects over 100 examples of the most interesting collective nouns for animals, each illustrated with charming woodcuts by the renowned naturalist engraver of the eighteenth century, Thomas Bewick. Some describe a key characteristic of the animal in question: `a shrewdness of apes', `a busyness of ferrets'. Others are delightfully humorous: `a piddle of puppies', `a crash of rhinoceroses'. Featuring pets, farmyard animals, big cats and wild beasts, this beautifully presented book is the perfect gift for animal lovers and all those with an interest in this quirky linguistic tradition.
`A murder of crows', `a charm of goldfinches', `an ostentation of peacocks': collective nouns for British birds have existed since at least the mid fifteenth century. They are thought to originate in texts about hunting, but have since evolved into evocative, witty and literary expressions, each striving to capture the very essence of the animal they describe. Some are portentous - `a conspiracy of ravens' perfectly evokes this sinister bird - others convey sound, such as `a murmuration of starlings' or `a chattering of choughs'. Yet more reflect with a flourish the beauty of the bird itself: what could be more celebratory than `a crown of kingfishers', or `an exaltation of larks'? The best of these imaginative expressions are collected here, illustrated with charming woodcuts by Thomas Bewick, the renowned naturalist engraver of the eighteenth century. Featuring songbirds, aquatic birds, birds of prey and garden favourites, this beautifully presented book will delight both bird-lovers and word-lovers in equal measure.
A classic picture of the rural past in a remote Suffolk village, revealed in the conversations of old people who recall harvest customs, home crafts, poetic usages in dialect, old farm tools, smugglers' tales, and rural customs and beliefs going back to the time of Chaucer.
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