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The Diary.

Byline: Denis Kilcommons ,

`An absence of waiters ... a flood of plumbers'

BRIAN Morton of the Colne Valley Debating Society has a question.

What do you call a group of frogs?

(Amazing, isn't it, the range and depth of conversation in which Brian and his chums at the Golcar British Legion and the Rising Sun become involved?)

I mean, everyone knows the collective word for fish is a school, that a lot of geese become a gaggle and a field full of cows is a herd.

But what about frogs?

Believe it or not, a group of amphibian of the order Anura (frogs, to you and me) become ... an army of frogs.

And wait, there's more.

In endeavouring to discover the answer to Brian's poser, I stumbled across a whole series of collective nouns that may not necessarily have the official seal of approval of The Oxford English Dictionary, but have been contrived to perfectly encapture the spirit of what they are describing.

An abandonment of orphans, for instance. How apt. And a bend of willows is of such poetic imagery that it could have been plucked from a Sheapeare sonnet. Perhaps it was.

But don't worry, the others I have chosen are not nearly so esoteric. They are either very apposite or they made me laugh.

An absence of waiters, an agenda of tasks, an accompaniment of condiments, an addition of mathematicians and an amble of walkers.

Clever, eh?

A balance of accountants, a clutch of kleptomaniacs, a conflagration of pyromaniacs, a debauchery of Hedonists and a disputation of lawyers.

How about a body of pathologists (get it?), a bond of British secret agents, an evensong of choirboys, a flood of plumbers (except when you want one), a fright of ghosts, a giggle of girls, a gush of sycophants and a lie of politicians.

A lie of politicians? Who, them? Surely not.

Then there is an obscurity of poets, a run of cowards, a ticktock of clocks, an assemblage of jigsaw puzzlers and an annoyance of mobile phones.

But best of all, the ones I thought most relevant were an embarrassment of parents and an attitude of teenagers.

Too, true.

You may not have noticed but the hunt for a collective noun for frogs has led us to philosophise about the relationships between the generations.

Such diversification of thought and lateral leaps is what all good debating societies are about.

Well done, Brian. Keep up the good work.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Oct 31, 2005
Words:408
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