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The following are hypertext marked-up versions of the newsletters i've sent. They are listed in reverse-chronological order.

[sent on 9/27/1996]


Here are the additions from this week:

9/24: added: a battery of tests, a charlotte of webpages, a ticktock of clocks, a boo of surprises, a click of (computer) mice, a stench of skunks.
added two new guidelines to the rules page: (5) "...not a synonym for or type of collection ("set", "list", "group", others)." and (6) " only one word, where at all possible.".
9/25: added: a sproutness of mushrooms, a slither of snakes, a stripe of zebras, a gossip of relatives, a minyan of Jews.
9/27: added: a wisdom of owls, a ballet of swans.
added new guideline: (7) " not easily confused with another, related, term. ("chowder of clams" might mean "thick, cream-based soup", so it's not a very good collective).".

The rejections are listed on the bottom of the rules page.

I'm currently developing a database/search-engine format for the page. It'll be available for testing soon, i hope. Feel free to offer suggestions! Here're the current planned features:

[sent on 9/20/1996]


Since the previous mail, i've put up the rules page, at [Old link; current link is], which contains a lot of related information including the guidelines i posted to the mailing list, and have updated the mailing list page, at [Old link; current link is] to include all past newsletters.

Chet Meek ( has suggested that i consider posting all new suggestions to the mailing list, just to keep everyone up to date. It sounds like an excellent idea to me. If you're against it, let me know. If there's no great objection, i'll send out a list of new suggestions somewhere between once a week and once a month, depending on volume.

Here are some responses i've received already regarding the previous newsletter, and my responses.

Dennis Meyler (
>Better might be "a fidget of suspects"...
>Fidget might be ... appropriate since it means to behave or move
>nervously or restlessly.

Excellent! I've added it. :)

Chet Meek (
[If this excerpt seems derogatory, know that it is taken out of a very positive context. -ojo]
>If you want this collection to have a certain amount of
>legitimacy, then perhaps you could consider a "just for fun"
>section, where most of my submissions could go, for example,
>along with perhaps others. Then, you could have the benefit
>of a more-or-less legitimate section, where origins,
>examples from the literature, etc., could be
>housed, and serious debate carried on. In that case, the fun
>section could just be for the casual information and
>amusement of those looking for less rigor.

The format of the page will change soon, when i get the dictionaries. They are going to provide a huge amount of data - far too much to list in a single page. At that point, i intend to have an index for browsing and a search utility for finding nouns for specific collections. Perhaps the search and/or browse engine should have a selection list for "show anything/show only documented collectives/show only suggested collectives"?
I just received the call that "An Exaltation of Larks" has arrived!
[sent on 9/20/1996]


Attached to the end of this document you'll find a submission i recently received. I just don't know what to do about this one. I'm currently working on a rules document to define "collective noun" for use in submissions. However, if any, this submission seems to break only the rather dubious rule 4. Here's the rough draft:

For the purposes of submission/suggestion, a collective noun is a noun, used to describe a collection of objects, which:

  1. Can be used as a plural ("She attended two classes.").
  2. Implies the described object without the necessity of stating it explicitly ("He's on the jury.").
  3. Is not exclusively a container ("a carton of eggs") or unit of measurement ("a ream of paper").
  4. Refers to the collection of the described object, not an instance of such a collection ("a kindle of kittens in a basket", not "a basket of kittens").

This is all very vague, and i'm far from ready to publish this info on the site. Actually, the only rule i'm comfortable with is number 1. As is often the way with these things, there seems to be an exception for every rule.
Please offer any suggestions/corrections you might have; they'll be greatly appreciated!
[sent on 9/12/1996]


Well, though i've made a few additions to the page, the reason for this mail is that i've ordered two titles from the bibliography, "An Exaltation of Larks" and "A Crash of Rhinoceroses". They should be here in two weeks and six weeks, respectively, so expect some major growth and documentation in the site around that time. I'll be sure to let you know.

I've added a book to the bibliography.

I've linked the Server Stats page to the index.

Thanks so much for your submissions. I've caught up on the credits page; If you're not listed but should be, please let me know.

Coming soon: Vote on suggested collective nouns!
[sent on 8/9/1996]


Well, three months and still no list server. After returning from my lengthy vacation in the northeast, i rebuilt the mailing list that was lost in the ISPs hard drive failure. I'll be running the mailing list personally, and am currently persuing two potential sponsors for the list server.
If you get a few minutes, please review the website; i've made several changes, and would greatly appreciate any feedback/criticism you might offer.
I intend to make some major modifications to the site. If you have an opinion about color schemes, let me know. I'll soon try a few to test the waters.
Also, i'm entertaining the notion of creating a voting area on the site, or perhaps taking votes solely from this mailing list, before placing a suggested collective noun on the main page. The only reason for this is the potential for a flooding of submissions, now that the page is growing in popularity (average 50 hits a day, and climbing).
Thanks for your time. As ever, i'm anxious to hear from you.
[sent on 4/6/1996]


The page has undergone some radical changes in the past two days, moving everything but the "instructions" to its own page. Comments on the new format are welcome.
I'd like to incorporate art, but i am certainly no artist. If you know of anyone who would like to volunteer their services, please have them contact me at
Here's the first time i've seen such a thing: Someone is offering _money_ for a collective noun suggestion! There are three prizes to be won for a collective noun for Ph.D. graduates. See for details.
I've received several suggestion for a collective noun for linguistic enthusiasts, which i've posted under the "mailing list" section in the page's new format. Check them out, then vote for one or add your own.
[sent on 4/2/1996]


The page goes public (well, sorta). I received mail today requesting permission for the Collective Noun Homepage to be published on a CD-ROM being developed by a university professor. An excerpt:

> I am a faculty at the University of Illinois and am currently
> developing a CD-ROM that teaches Internet Usage, Search Strategies,
> etc. through a showcase of resources available on the Internet. I am
> very interested in utilizing a few sample pages from your website.

Incidentally, if you have a suggestion for a collective noun refering to a group of linguistic enthusiasts, please send it to me. :)