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1. Introduction

This paper deals with backtranslating some of the collective nouns and analysis of the results of the test. It also explains what is meant by back translation as little research has been done about it in the literature of translation. It also sheds light on the grammatical and semantic treatment of collective nouns in English. Explaining what is meant by back translation and the treatment of collective nouns grammatically and semantically represent the theoretical part of this paper. The practical side is the second part in which the results and analysis of testing the group of college students are presented. Basically, this is done to see whether the terms or phrases in question will be rendered as they are in the source language. It is hypothesized that most of the testees are going to use the item 'group' as the equivalent for most of the collective nouns of English. In addition to that, English exhibits a wider range of collectives than Arabic. The number of the testees is (20). Back translation is considered one of the quality assessment types of translation. Quantity has nothing to do here.

This paper is also important as far as the field of pedagogy is concerned because it reveals some of the problems of translating collective nouns. It helps finding solutions for such problems facing our students at the university level. In addition, it is important in the field of contrastive linguistics since it deals with a phenomenon present in both languages. There are conclusions as far as the purpose of this paper is concerned, too. An appendix containing a list of the correct terms to describe groups of various types of nouns especially for animals is given at the end of this paper. It is of interest to the researcher as it is referred to in the discussion of collectives in the present paper. That is why the researcher feels it is important to attach such a list. One of the craziest oddities of English is that there are so many different collective nouns that all mean "group" but which are specific to particular things such as: a herd of elephants, a crowd of people, a box of crayons, a pad of paper, etc. There is great diversity of collective nouns associated with animals, from a sleuth of bears to a murder of crows (See the appendix).

2. What is back translation?

Scholars wrote about translation as a theory and practice, and each one gives a definition. Catford (1965:20), for example, considers it as a process which is always 'unidirectional', i.e. from a source language into a target language. In an article entitled The Theory and the Craft of Translation, Peter Newmark (1978:83) relates translation to other fields of knowledge. He points out that translation theory derives from comparative linguistics and within linguistics it is chiefly related to semantics; moreover, Newmark (ibid) defines translation as "a craft consisting in the attempt to replace a written message in one language by the same message in another language". Back translation is the translation of a translation from the target language back to the source language, presumably without prior or current access to the source text. The general purpose is to enable the text owner (writer, publisher, translation benefactor, or what we call in the business "the client") to see how the translation will read to the target audience, compared with the original text. Thus, back translation is a quality assurance method whose objective is to identify actual or potential trouble spots in the translation as well as in the original text in order to remedy them (Yahya, 2004:1). In addition, back translation is one of the techniques used to detect the item bias in cross cultural studies. In this regard, Geisinger (1994: 306) defines back translation as the following: "an original translation would render items from the original version of the instrument to a second language, and a second translator - one not familiar with the instrument - would translate the instrument back into the original language".

Back translation can improve the reliability and validity of research in different languages by requiring that the quality of a translation is verified by an independent translator translating back into the original language. Original and back translated documents can then be compared (Asia Market Research). Back translation is an attempt to recover the original text. It is of prime importance as Marilyn Gaddis Rose (1985:31) remarks that back translation has played an important role in cultural history, and as an example of the importance of back translation she mentions that the law books of some Crusader States were lost and had to be retranslated into French from an Armenian version. Rose (ibid: 3) classifies back translation into two main categories, namely the general back translation and that which assures the integrity of form. The first category is used in exemplification and verification (e.g., in the Bible), accuracy and completeness assessment and pedagogy. According to Rose, this type of back translation makes us "translate back to the source language to assure integrity of message" (ibid:6). In fact, this type is going to be followed here to assure the semantic correspondences between English and Arabic regarding some of the collective nouns, like for example "herd, flock, group, school, crowd, etc.". In other words, the semantic precision in translating these nouns is taken into account, and to that end a group of college students have been tested.

It is true that every translator faces the problem of meaning in both languages. In an article entitled The Degree of Semantic Precision in Translation, Paul Kussmaul (1985: 12) has emphasized that

Anyone who has been faced with the task of

translating a text will have experienced the problem
that a target language ( TL ) word has either a wider
or a narrower meaning than the source language (SL)
word with which it is supposed to correspond.

That is to say, a translator should care for the relevant features or components of the meaning of a word in a given context with regard to the function of the translation, not considering words as isolated units. As a maxim Kussmaul (ibid) declares that a translator has to assure the necessary degree of precision.

3. Collective Nouns Treated Grammatically and Semantically

Crystal (1997:69) defines a collective noun as a term which refers to "a noun [denoting] a group of entities, and which is formally differentiated from other nouns by a distinct pattern of number contrast (and in some languages, morphologically)" (emphasis his). He also adds that such a noun is seen as a single collective entity, or as a collection of individual entities. The researcher focuses mainly on Quirk et al (1975:189-190) regarding the grammatical treatment of the collective nouns in English. Collective nouns differ from other nouns in taking as pronoun substitutes either singular (it) or plural (they) without change of number in the noun ( e.g. the army: it / they ). Consequently, the verb may be in the plural after a singular noun:

The committee { was / were } discussing the proposal.
{ It / They} decided to reject the proposal by a vote of five to two.

There are nuances in meaning between the different substitution choices. The singular and the plural choices are by no means in complete free variation. The distinction made within collective nouns may appear to be one of number rather than gender. However, it also involves gender, since the difference in substitution reflects a difference in attitude: the singular stresses the non-personal collectivity of the group and the plural the personal individuality within the group. English gives the speaker many such choices to express his attitude to the content of his message.

Quirk et al (ibid) present a distinction of collective nouns. There are three subclasses of these nouns: (a) specific (b) generic and (c) unique. Examples which are not exhaustive include the following:

a. specific
b. generic
c. unique
The aristocracy
The bourgeoisie
The clergy
The elite
The gentry
The intelligentsia
The laity
The proletariat
The public
The Arab League
(the) Congress
The Kremlin
The Papacy Parliament
The UN
The Vatican
Table (1): Collectives as classified by Quirk et al.

As far as concord is concerned, collectives take singular or plural verbs depending on their meaning. When you consider the group as one unit, you use a singular verb. An example is the following:

1. The jury agrees that the state prosecutors did not provide enough evidence, so its verdict is not guilty.

The noun 'jury' refers to more than one person. We do not have a jury of one; at least we need two people to compose the unit. One can recognize that the verb 'agrees' refers to a singular entity and the very use of the possessive pronoun 'its' as well.

Fowler (1930:602) trying to remove confusion gives the following classification for collective nouns:

1. nouns denoting a whole made up of similar parts, such as crew, flock, firm, cabinet
2.  nouns whose plural is in form not distinguishable from the singular, as sheep, deer, salmon, grouse.
3.  nouns whose singular is sometimes used instead of their plural, as duck, fish, shot, cannon.
4.  nouns denoting either a thing or a material consisting of many of them, as hair, straw.
5.  nouns denoting either a material or a collection of things made of it, as linen, silver, china.
6.  nouns denoting either a thing or some or all of them, as fruit, timber.
7.  abstract singulars used instead of concrete plurals, as accommodation  (= rooms), kindling (=pieces of wood), pottery (=pots).
8.  nouns denoting substances of indefinite quantity, as butter, water.

Nevertheless, he also causes a kind of confusion in this classification in the sense that the items (5, 6, 7, and 8) are considered as mass nouns and not collective nouns as nearly all grammar books state this fact (See for example Eckersley and Eckersley, 1960:20, 54, 89, 92, 130). Concerning concord, mass nouns take a singular verb; whereas, collectives vary between taking singular or plural verbs or both.

Semantically, John Lyons (1977:315-317) is followed in this regard. Collective nouns may be defined as lexemes which denote collections or groups, of persons or objects. In English, they fall into a number of different grammatical classes. 'Cattle' and 'clergy', for example, are treated as plural, but 'furniture' as singular (cf. 'These cattle are &.'; 'This furniture is &'). Others are singular with respect to concord within the noun phrase, but may be interpreted as either singular or plural for the purpose of concord with the verb or verb phrase in the sentence (cf. 'this family' : 'The family has decided&.' or 'The family have decided&.'). The grammatical ambivalence of many collectives with respect to the distinction of singular and plural is to be explained by the fact that a collection of objects may be regarded from one point of view as a single entity, but from another point of view as a plurality. It is worth mentioning that plural noun phrases like 'those men' functioning as general referring expressions are sometimes employed in order to ascribe a certain property to each of the members of a class, but that may also be used to assert something of the class as a whole. Noun phrases containing collectives are like plural noun phrases in this respect; and it is interesting to note that when such noun phrases refer to groups of human beings distributively, they necessarily select the relative pronoun 'who' (rather than 'which') and plural concord. Both of the following are possible, the former with distributive and the latter with collective reference to the Government: 'The Government, who have &, are&'; 'The Government, which has&, is&.'.But neither 'The Government, who has&., is&' nor 'The Government, which have&, are&.' is grammatically acceptable.

Concerning the place occupied by collectives in the structure of the vocabulary, many of them serve as superordinates in relation to a set of quasi-hyponymy of a different kind from that noted above in connection with such examples as 'round': 'shape' or 'blue': 'colour'. For example, 'cattle' is superordinate to { cow , bull , steer , etc.} as is shown by the regular use of such expressions as ' cows , bulls , and other cattle'; and 'clergy' is superordinate to { bishop , priest , etc. }. But, there are differences between these two examples. Although 'priest' and 'bishop' are quasi-hyponyms of 'clergy' , as 'cow' and 'bull ' are of 'cattle' (or 'man' and 'woman' of people ), 'priest' and 'bishop' also stand in a particular kind of part-whole relation with respect to 'clergy: cf. 'priests, bishops, and other members of the clergy'. 'Furniture' differs from 'clergy' grammatically, but it is semantically parallel with it: cf. 'tables, chairs, and other kinds / items of furniture'. There are many such collectives in the vocabulary of English and other languages which are superordinate to sets of lexemes in a hierarchical relationship that is ambivalent with respect to the distinction of hyponymy and the part-whole relation. Such collectives whether they are grammatically singular or plural, are very similar, semantically, to mass nouns.

Another kind of collectives is exemplified by 'flock', 'herd', 'library' (for example, a library of books, see the appendix) and 'forest (e.g. a forest of trees, see the appendix). The relationship between 'sheep' and 'flock', 'cow' and 'herd', etc., is clearly not one of hyponymy: such phrases as 'sheep and other kinds of flock' are nonsensical. Nor is it a part-whole relationship of the same type as that holding between 'arm' and 'body'. Collectives like 'flock' serve much the same individuating function as words like 'pool' or 'pound' in 'two pools of water' or 'three pounds of butter'. There is a difference of course: 'water' and 'butter' are mass nouns, whereas 'sheep' is a countable noun. Each sheep in the flock is an individual. What a collective like 'flock' does is to individuate a set of undifferentiated individuals in the way that 'pool' or 'pound' individuates a quantity of water or butter. A flock may be composed of sheep and lambs, as the clergy is composed of bishops, priests, etc., and a body is composed of arms, legs, etc. Flocks, the clergy and bodies may all be considered, from this point of view, as collection of entities. But 'the flock of sheep' or 'the legs of the body', is an acceptable phrase. 'Flock', 'herd', 'forest', 'library', etc. are like the more general words 'set', 'collection', 'group', etc., except that they are syntagmatically restricted. Being syntagmatically restricted, they may encapsulate the sense of the lexemes which denote members of the collections in question. The phrases 'a herd of cattle' and 'a suite of furniture' illustrate the differences between the two different types of collectives.

Saeed (2003:272) discussing the semantic classes of nominals points out that "a collective noun like the Government contains individual units - its members - and therefore is like a plural; however, if we do divide it, we cannot call each of the results a government&." (emphasis his). In other words, a collective noun consists of more than one member.

In Arabic, collective nouns are assigned the term /?ism al- d3am9 / ( nouns of plural). Al-Ghalaayini * (2004:217) refers to the collective noun as implying the meaning of plurality, but it has no oneness in its form just in its meaning as / d3ai ∫ / (army) , /∫a9b / (people), /qabi:la/ (tribe), / qawm / (folk), /xail / (horses), etc., having their singulars / d3undi /, /rad3ul /or /?imra?a / , / faras / respectively. He also adds that collectives can be treated as singular depending on their form, and they can be treated as plural depending on their meaning. Examples are the following:

1.  / al-qawm-u sa:ra / or / sa:ru: /.( The folk marched.)
2.  / ∫a9bun δakjjun / or / ? δkjja:?/ (Intelligent people)

In the first example the verb /sa:ra/ refers to a singular entity, while /sa:ru:/ refers to a plural one. Whereas in the second example, the adjective / δakjjun / refers to a singular noun, but /? δkjja:?/ refers to a plural one. Al-Ghalaayini (ibid) adds that as a collective noun is singular, it can be pluralized. For example, in Arabic the plural of /qawm/ is /?aqwa:m/.

There is also another class of collectives in Arabic. They are characterized as (–a- marked plural collectives in that they end with the sound / a / ) which are mostly classified separately as either plurals, as in /xajja:la/ (horse-men or riders), alternating with a parallel plural form /xajja:lu:n /, or genuine collective nouns, as in / xajja:la / (cavalry ) (Drozdik, 1998:24). There are lots of such collectives, but they are confusing and need to be learned so as to avoid such a problem (See Drozdik, ibid).

4. Results and Analyses

The task started with the testing of a group of college students who are (20) in number from the Department of Translation, College of Arts, University of Basrah. In this test they are asked to translate sentences containing some of the collective nouns from the target language, English, to the source language, Arabic. In the second part of the test, another group backtranslates the sentences given. The sentences wherein the collectives in question are italicized are the following:

1. Someone has fed the herd.
2. I passed by a crowd of people.
3. Flocks of birds form beautiful combinations.
4. The elite of poets deliver their poems.
5. I met a group of friends yesterday.
6. Our football team played well last week.
7. A school of fish is swimming in the river.
8. The folk departed from their homes at night.
9. The crew is assembled ready for the first test flight
10. The police are hunting the gang.

After analyzing the results, it has been noticed that most of the students faced problems in finding the exact equivalents for some of the nouns. Results arrived at are shown in the following table:

The Collective Noun
No. of Correct Answer
No. of Wrong Answer
The herd
A crowd
A group of poets
A group of friends


A school of fish
The folk
The crew
The gang
Table (2): Results of Translating Collective nouns from English into Arabic.

'Herd' has been found to mean "a number of animals, or a cattle of cows, deer, elephants, etc"(OED). But the word 'cattle' refers to animals with horns like oxen, cows, etc. The meaning of 'crowd' is a large number of people gather together in the open (ibid). Strikingly, the word 'herd' can refer to a crowd of people in certain contexts, like, for instance, in the following sentence:

a. He preferred to stick with the herd. 

This word here means a mob or a large number of people. In the appendix, we have (a herd of harlots, harlot means 'a prostitute' (Pardon Dictionary)). Few of the students translate the word 'crowd' as / h%a ∫d / or /izdih%a:m /, while the majority of the testees translate it as /mad3mu:9a/ (group). By the way, the item 'majority' is also a collective noun which takes either a singular or plural verb ( See Table (1)). In the appendix, one can notice that 'herd' can be used with birds (e.g. a herd of swans), with mammals (e.g. a herd of antelopes), with amphibians and reptiles (e.g. a herd of dinosaurs).

The meaning of 'flock' refers to groups of sheep and herd of cattle, goats, or birds of the same kind. In the appendix, 'flock' is used with birds like (a flock of coots), with fish like (a flock of dolphins), with mammals like (a flock of camels), with insects and arachnids like (a flock of lice) etc. The majority of the students translate it as /sirb /, which is the exact equivalent in Arabic. Furthermore, the majority of the students translate the item 'team' as /fari:q / in Arabic. The meaning of this word as given in the OED is 'a group of players forming one side in a certain game or sport. While the word 'folk' seems to posit a difficulty in its rendering. They recover it as /na:s /; whereas, in Arabic, the exact equivalent is /qawm/. It means people in general. What poses difficulty for the testees is the phrase 'school of fish' as the majority renders it a /mad3mu:9a minal asma:ki/ (See the appendix for other uses of 'school'); few of them translate it as /sirb/. This collective noun means a group of fish swimming together, or a shoal. What is easier for them is the rendering of 'crew' and 'gang'. Both of these two collective nouns are rendered as /ta:qam / and / 9isa:ba / respectively.

Appropriately, the equivalent sentences of these (10) sentences are given to another group, who has no access to the previous ones. This group also comprises (20) students. Their task is to translate from Arabic into English. Here, it has been noticed that the task is more difficult than the previous one, i.e. rendering from English into Arabic. This becomes evident from the following results. The sentences given to them are the following:

1 / jar9al qati:9 u fil mar9a /

يرعى القطيع في المرعى .

2 / marrartu bi-d3amharat-in minal na:si /

مررت بجمهرة من الناس.

3 / tu ∫akilu asra:bul tiju:ri ta ∫ki:la:tun d3ami:latun /

تشكل أسراب الطيور تشكيلات جميلة.

4 / julqi nuxbatun minal ∫u9ara:?i qasaa:?idahum /

يلقي نخبة من الشعراء قصائدهم.

5 / la9iba fari:quna li kuratil qadami bi-suratin d3ayydatin bil-amsi /

لعب فريقنا اكرة القدم بصورة جيّدة بالامس.

6 / iltaqaitu bi-mad3mu:9atin minal asdi:qa:?i /

التقيت بمجموعة من الاصدقاء.

7 /  ∫ahadtu mad3mu:9atan minal asma:ki fil nahri /

 شاهدت مجموعة من الاسماك في النهر.

8 / rahala l-qawmu min dija:rihim /

 رحل القوم من ديارهم.

9 / jatad3ama9 al-ta:qam lijasta9idu: lirihlat ixtiba:r l-taira:n alu:la: /

 يتجمع الطاقم ليستعد لرحلة اختبار الطيران الاولى.

10 / tasta:du ∫-∫urtatu  al-9isa:bata al-a:n /

 تصطاد الشرطة’ العصابة′ الان.


The results of this test are exemplified in the following table:

The collective noun

No. of Correct Answer

No. of Wrong Answer






















mad3mu:9a minal asdi:qa:?




















Table (3): Results of Translating Collectives from Arabic into English

Most of the students tend to render the item / qati:9 / as 'a flock of sheep'. Others used 'herd, cattle, drove'. The item 'flock' can be used with 'sheep, ducks, birds, geese' as far as animals are concerned (Encarta) and it has the following entries in (Pardon Dictionary):

    a. (group) n.: a church congregation guided by a pastor.
    b. (group) n.: group of birds, sheep, or goats.

The item / d3amhara/ is translated by most of the testees as 'crowd' which is rendered as /izdiha:m / by most of them in the first test. Others used items like 'group, gathering, mass'. The item 'gathering' means "meeting or coming together of people" (OED). The cultural aspect has its effects on the very rendering of the collective nouns in both languages in question. Nord (1997:34) points out that

Translating means comparing cultures. Translators interpret source-culture phenomena in the light of their own culture-specific knowledge of that culture, from either the inside or the outside, depending on whether the translation is from or into the translator's language-and-culture.

The word /sirb/ is rendered by the majority of the testees as 'flock' which is the correct equivalent to this item. Others tend to use items like 'flight, group and drove'. The equivalent 'drove' means "a group of animals (a herd or flock) moving together" (Pardon Dictionary). So, the sense of moving should be present in the very rendering of this item. The word /nuxba/ is rendered with a range of lexical items like 'group, choice, top, pick, upperclass, elite'. The equivalent 'elite' is chosen by (4) students which represents a small portion of the number of the testees. The item 'group' has taken a similar rate. All the students translate the item /fari:q/ as 'team' which is the exact equivalent for it. The phrase /mad3mu:9a min al -asdiqa:?i / is rendered as 'a group of friends'. But, the phrase /mad3mu:9a minal asma:ki/ poses a translation problem in that the majority also tended to render it as 'a group of fish'. In the original text, it is 'a school of fish'. It can be 'shoal of fish', too. What is interesting is that the item /qawm/ has got the equivalents 'people, nation and folk'. This item is deeply rooted in the history of the Arab society and culture. Regarding the position of culture, Hall (1995:197) emphasizes that it "is threaded through all social practices, and the sum of their inter-relationships" (emphasis his). The majority used the item 'people' as a counterpart for 'folk'. The item / al-ta:qam /and / al-9isa:ba / are correctly rendered as the equivalents 'crew' and 'gang' respectively, which gives the indication that Arabic has exact equivalents for them. 

5. Conclusions:

If a kind of comparison between the two translations is made, one can arrive at the following conclusions:

1.  Both languages have such a kind of nouns.
2.  In both languages these collectives can be used in the singular and the plural. Arabic collectives can be pluralized, but not all of the English ones can be so.
3.  English has a wider range of collectives than Arabic. Therefore, the testees faced difficulties in rendering most of these collectives.
4.  Their task becomes more difficult when they render from Arabic into English.
5.  At any time they face a difficulty in finding the suitable equivalent, the testees tend to use the item / mad3mu:9a / (group) as a kind of a counterpart for a collective noun in English.
6.  English is richer in the semantic components of the collectives than Arabic.
7.  The grammatical mistakes committed in rendering from Arabic into English are worse than the first type, i.e. from English into Arabic, a case which indicates that Arabic is richer in its grammatical system than English.

The researcher suggests giving lots of practices of translating this kind of nouns to the students. This is to be done either in separate sentences or in contexts. They also should be made aware of the varieties of collectives. Here comes the importance of giving them a list like the one at the end of this paper (the appendix).

Appendix: Collective Nouns

One of the many oddities of the English language is the multitude of different names given to collections or groups, be they beasts, birds, people or things. Many of these collective nouns are beautiful and evocative, even poetic.

(alternatives in brackets)

A colony of auks (flock, raft)
A colony of avocets
A flock of birds (dissimulation, fleet, flight, parcel, pod, volary, )
A sedge of bitterns (siege)
A chain of bobolinks
A bellowing of bullfinches
A flock of bustards
A wake of buzzards
A tok of capercaillies
A muse of capons
A brood of chickens (cletch, clutch, peep)
A chattering of choughs (clattering)
A covert of coots ( commotion, cover, fleet, flock, pod, rasp, swarm)
A flight of cormorants (gulp)
A sedge of cranes (herd, sedge, siege)
A murder of crows ( hover, muster, parcel)
A head of curlews (herd)
A trip of dotterel
A dole of doves ( dule, flight, piteousness, pitying, prettying)
A flush of ducks (badelynge, brace, bunch, dopping, flock, paddling, plump, raft, safe, skein, sord, string, team)
A flight of dunbirds (rush)
A fling of dunlins
A convocation of eagles (aerie)
A cast of falcons
A charm of finches (chirm, trembling, trimming)
A stand of flamingos
A gaggle of geese (flock, plump, skein, team, wedge)
A charm of goldfinches (chattering, drum, troubling)
A dopping of goosanders
A flight of goshawks
A covey of grouse (brace, brood, flight, pack)
A bazaar of guillemots
A colony of gulls
A mews of hawks (aerie, cast, kettle, mew, moulting, screw, stream)
A brood of hens
A sedge of herons (flight, hedge, rookery, siege)
A charm of hummingbirds (chattering, drum, troubling)
A colony of ibises
A band of jays (party, scold)
A desert of lapwings (deceit)
A parcel of linnets
An exaltation of larks (ascension, bevy, flight)
A congregation of magpies (charm, flock, gulp, murder, tiding, tittering, tribe, )
A sord of mallards (flush, puddling, sute)
A plump of moorhens
A fleet of mudhens
A watch of nightingales (match, pray)
A pride of ostriches (flock)
A parliament of owls (stare)
A fling of oxbirds
A company of parrots (flock, pandemonium, psittacosis)
A covey of partridges (bevy, bew, clutch, warren)
A muster of peacocks (ostentation, pride)
A pod of pelicans (scoop)
A colony of penguins (parcel, rookery)
A cadge of peregrines
A nye of pheasants (bouquet, head, nide, warren, )
A flight of pigeons (flock, kit, passel, )
A knob of pintail [small number]
A congregation of plovers (band, flight, leash, stand, wing)
A rush of pochard (flight, knob[small number])
A run of poultry
A covey of ptarmigans
A bevy of quails (covey, drift)
An unkindness of ravens (aerie, conspiracy)
A crowd of redwings
A parliament of rooks (building, clamour, congregation, shoal, wing)
A hill of ruffs
A fling of sandpipers
A cloud of seafowl
A squabble of seagulls
A dopping of sheldrakes (doading)
A walk of snipe (wisp)
A host of sparrows (meinie, quarrel, tribe, ubiquity)
A murmuration of starlings (chattering, cloud, congregation, clutter)
A mustering of storks (flight, phalanx)
A flight of swallows (gulp)
A herd of swans (bank, bevy, drift, eyrar, game, herd, lamentation, sownder, squadron, team, wedge, whiteness, whiting)
A flock of swifts
A spring of teals (bunch, coil, knob, raft)
A mutation of thrushes
A flock of turkeys (dole, dule, raffle, raft, rafter, posse)
A pitying of turtledoves
A wake of vultures
A plump of waterfowl (bunch, knob, raft)
A company of widgeon (bunch, coil, flight, knob, trip)
A trip of wildfowl (bunch, knob, lute, plump,scry, skein, sord, sute)
A fall of woodcock (covey, flight, plump)
A descent of woodpeckers
A herd of wrens (flock)

(alternatives in brackets)

A cluster of antelopes (herd, tribe)
A shrewdness of apes (troop)
A pace of asses (drove, coffle, herd)
A flange of baboons (congress, troop)
A cete of badgers (colony)
A cloud of bats (colony)
A sloth of bears (sleuth)
A colony of beavers (family, lodge)
A herd of bison (gang)
A sute of bloodhounds
A herd of boars (singular)
A sounder of boars, wild [12+]
A herd of bucks (leash)
A gang of buffalo (herd, obstinacy)
A drove of bullocks
A flock of camels (caravan, herd, train)
A herd of caribou
A clowder of cats (glaring, cluster, clutter)
A destruction of cats, wild (dout, dowt)
A herd of cattle (drift, drove, mob)
A herd of chamois
A coalition of cheetahs
A colony of chinchilla
A rake of colts (rack, rag)
A bury of conies (game)
A flink of cows [12+]
A pack of coyote (band, rout)
A litter of cubs
A cowardice of curs
A herd of deer (bunch, leash, mob, parcel, rangale)
A pack of dogs (kennel)
A pod of dolphins
A herd of donkeys (drove)
A herd of eland
A herd of elephants (parade)
A gang of elk (herd)
A business of ferrets (cast, fesnying)
A skulk of foxes (earth, lead, leash, troop)
A brace of geldings
A horde of gerbils
A tower of giraffes (corps, group, herd)
A herd of gnu (implausibility)
A trip of goats (flock, herd, trip, tribe)
A band of gorillas (whoop)
A leash of greyhounds
A group of guinea pigs
A horde of hamsters
A drove of hares (down, flick, herd, husk, kindle, leash, trace, trip)
A herd of harts
A herd of hartebeest
A array of hedgehogs (prickle)
A parcel of hinds
A bloat of hippopotami (crash, herd, pod, school, thunder)
A drift of hogs (drove, parcel)
A stable of horses (drove, harras, herd, remuda, string, stud, team)
A pack of hounds (cry, hunt, kennel, leash, meet, mute, stable, sute)
A clan of hyenas
A herd of ibex
A couple of impalas
A husk of jackrabbits
A mob of kangaroos (troop)
A kindle of kittens (litter)
A fall of lambs
A leap of leopards (lepe)
A kindle of leverets
A pride of lions (flock, sault, sawt, sowse, troop)
A herd of llamas
A stud of mares
A richness of martens (richesse)
A mischief of mice (horde, nest, trip)
A labour of moles (company, movement)
A band of mongooses (pack)
A troop of monkeys (cartload, mission, tribe, wilderness)
A herd of moose
A nest of mice (horde, mischief)
A barren of mules (pack, rake, span)
A family of otters (bevy, raft, romp)
A team of oxen (drove, herd, meinie, span, yoke)
A pomp of pekingese
A drove of pigs (drift, flock, herd)
A doylt of pigs, tame
A sounder of pigs, wild
A farrow of piglets (litter)
An aurora of polar bears (pack)
A chine of polecats
A string of ponies (herd)
A prickle of porcupines
A school of porpoises (herd, pod)
A coterie of prarie dogs (town)
A litter of pups
A gaze of raccoons (nursery)
A colony of rabbits (bury, drove, flick, kindle, leash, nest, trace, warren, wrack)
A field of racehorses (string)
A nursery of racoons
A colony of rats (horde, mischief, swarm)
A crash of rhinoceroses (herd, stubbornness)
A bevy of roe deer
A colony of seals (harem, herd, pod, rookery, spring)
A flock of sheep (down, drift, drove, fold, herd, meinie, mob, parcel, trip)
A surfeit of skunks
A dray of squirrels (colony)
A pack of stoats (trip)
A drove of swine (herd)
A doylt of swine, tame (drift, trip)
A sounder of swine, wild [12+]
An ambush of tigers (streak)
A blessing of unicorns
A colony of voles
A huddle of walruses (herd, ugly)
A mob of wallaby
A sneak of weasels (gang, pack)
A school of whales (float, gam, herd, mob, pod, run, shoal, troup)
A grind of whales, bottle-nosed
A destruction of wildcats (dout)
A herd of wildebeest
A pack of wolves (herd, rout)
A mob of wombats
A herd of yaks
A cohort of zebras (herd, zeal)

(alternatives in brackets)

A culture of bacteria
A stuck of jellyfish (fluther, smack, smuth)
A clew of worms

Insects and Arachnids
(alternatives in brackets)

A colony of ants (army, bike, swarm)
A swarm of bees (bike, cast, cluster, drift, erst, game, grist, hive, rabble, stand)
A bike of bees, wild
A flight of butterflies (kaleidoscope, rabble, swarm)
An army of caterpillars
An intrusion of cockroaches
A swarm of flies (business, cloud, grist, hatch)
A cloud of gnats (horde, rabble, swarm)
A cloud of grasshoppers (cluster, swarm)
A bike of hornets (nest, swarm)
A flight of insects (horde, plague, rabble, swarm)
A flock of lice
A plague of locusts (cloud, swarm)
A colony of lice (infestation)
A scourge of mosquitos (swarm)
A clutter of spiders (cluster)
A colony of termites (swarm)
A colony of wasps (bike, nest)


A bed of clams
A bed of cockles
A bed of mussels
A bed of oysters (hive)
An escargatoire of snails (rout, walk)

(alternatives in brackets)

A company of angel fish
A company of archer fish
A battery of baracuda
A shoal of barbels
A fleet of bass (shoal)
A grind of blackfish
A school of butterfly fish
A school of cod
A swarm of dragonet fish
A troop of dogfish
A flock of dolphins (school, team)
A swarm of eels
A shoal of fish (catch, draught, fray, haul, run, school)
A glide of flying fish
A glint of goldfish (troubling)
A glean of herrings (army, shoal)
A shoal of mackerel
A shoal of minnows (steam, stream, swarm)
A pack of perch
A shoal of pilchards (school)
A cluster of porcupine fish
A gam of porpoises (herd, pod, school, turmoil)
A party of rainbow fish
A shoal of roach
A bind of salmon (draught, leap, run, school, shoal)
A family of sardines
A herd of seahorses
A shoal of shad
A shiver of sharks (school, shoal)
A troup of shrimps
A quantity of smelt
A shoal of sticklebacks (spread)
A flotilla of swordfish
A hover of trout (shoal)
A float of tunas (troup)
A pod of whiting

Amphibians and Reptiles
(alternatives in brackets)

A quiver of cobras
A bask of crocodiles (congregation, float, nest)
A herd of dinosaurs (pack)
A flight of dragons (weyr, wing)
An army of frogs (colony, froggery, knot)
A mess of iguanas
A rhumba of rattlesnakes
A den of snakes (bed, knot, nest, pit, trogle)
A knot of toads (knob, nest)
A bale of turtles (dule, turn)
A nest of vipers (generation)

(alternatives in brackets)

A faculty of academics
A troupe of acrobats
A cast of actors/players (company, cry)
A bench of aldermen
A conflagration of arsonists
A troupe of artistes
A team of athletes
A tabernacle of bakers
A babble of barbers
A promise of barmen
A thought of barons
A squad of beaters
A bevy of beauties (galaxy)
A bench of bishops (psalter)
A blush of boys
A troop of boy scouts
A feast of brewers
A pack of Brownies
A shuffle of bureaucrats
A goring of butchers
A sneer of butlers
A slate of candidates
A chapter of canons (dignity)
A company of capitalists (syndicate)
A congregation of churchgoers
A school of clerks
A cutting of cobblers (drunkship)
A hastiness of cooks
A shrivel of critics
A cowardice of curs
A troupe of dancers
A decanter of deans (decorum)
A board of directors
An obstruction of dons
A staff of employees
A panel of experts
A stalk of foresters
A talent of gamblers
A company of girl guides
A galaxy of governesses
A conjunction of grammarians
A herd of harlots
A melody of harpists
An observance of hermits
A gang of hoodlums
A cavalcade of horsemen
A blast of hunters
A bench of judges (sentence)
A neverthriving of jugglers
A banner of knights (rout)
A bevy of ladies
An eloquence of lawyers
A colony of lepers
An audience of listeners
An illusion of magicians
A bench of magistrates
A riches of matrons
A morbidity of majors
A band of men
A faith of merchants
A diligence of messengers
A troupe of minstrels
A cortege of mourners
An orchestra of musicians
A tribe of natives
A superfluity of nuns
A crowd of onlookers
A curse of painters (illusion, misbelieving)
A malapertness of pedlars
A crowd of people (audience, congregation, mob)
A troupe of performers (troup)
A skirl of pipers (poverty)
A posse of police
A converting of preachers
A pity of prisoners (gang)
A band of robbers
A crew of sailors
A scolding of seamstresses
A house of senators
A subtlety of sergeants at law
An obeisance of servants
A posse of sheriffs
A blackening of shoemakers
A choir of singers
A squad of soldiers (army, brigade, company, division, muster, platoon, troop)
A class of students
A simplicity of subalterns
A disguising of tailors
A glozing of taverners
A den of thieves (gang)
A board of trustees
A flock of tourists
An unction of undertakers
A prudence of vicars
An ambush of widows
A coven of witches
A gaggle of women
A gang of workmen
A congregation of worshippers
A worship of writers
A fellowship of yeomen

(alternatives in brackets)

A wing of aircraft (flight)
A host of angels (chorus)
A quiver of arrows
A bundle of asparagus
A belt of asteroids
A bunch of bananas (hand)
A grove of bayonets
A carillon of bells (change, peal)
A library of books
A batch of bread (caste)
A bavin of brushwood
A fleet of cars
A pack of cards (deck, hand)
A network of computers
A dossier of documents
A clutch of eggs
A bundle of firewood
A bed of flowers (bouquet, bunch, patch)
A colony of fungi
A pantheon of gods
A bunch of grapes (cluster)
A battery of guns
A budget of inventions
A chain of islands (archipelago)
A cache of jewels
A ring of keys
A fleet of lorries (convoy)
A rouleau of coins
A collective of nouns
A bank of monitors
A range of mountains
A troop of mushrooms
A rope of onions
A coterie of orchids
A budget of papers
A string of pearls (rope)
A pod of peas
A phantasmagoria of phantoms
An anthology of poems
A rosary of quotations (mellificium)
A clump of reeds
A rabble of remedies
A nest of rumours
A fleet of ships (armada, flotilla)
A pair of shoes
A shrubbery of shrubs
A flight of stairs
A galaxy of stars (constellation)
An anthology of stories
An agenda of tasks
A stand of trees (clump, forest, grove)

Some That Might Be

A balance of accountants
A bevy of alcoholics
A corps of anatomists
A conflagration of arsonists
An audit of bookkeepers
A rascal of boys
A clutch of breasts
A clutch of car mechanics
A load of cobblers
An unease of compromises
A galaxy of cosmologists
An intrigue of council members
A box of cricketers
An incredulity of cuckolds
A brace of dentists
A bodge of DIYers
A grid of electricians
An exaggeration of fishermen
A revelation of flashers
A fraid of ghosts
A giggle of girls
An expectation of heirs
A vagary of impediments
A wealth of information
A scoop of journalists
A flush of lavatories
An eloquence of lawyers
A stack of librarians
A babble of linguists
A number of mathematicians
A compromise of mediators
An amalgamation of metallurgists
A shower of meteorologists
An expectation of midwives
A horde of misers
An annoyance of neighbours
A row of oarsmen
A body of pathologists
A virtue of patients
A ponder of philosophers
A clique of photographers
A nucleus of physicists
A breakdown of plans
A flush of plumbers
A complex of psychologists
A following of stalkers
A portfolio of stockbrokers
A fanfare of strumpets
A pack of suitcases
A flight of yesterdays
A jam of tarts
A hug of teddy bears
A ring of telephones
A bunch of things
A promise of tomorrows
A twinkling of todays
A cancellation of trains
A linkage of webmasters
A break of winds
An impatience of wives
A yearning of yesterdays
An optimism of youths


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* Explanatory examples of Arabic words, phrases and clauses are phonemically transcribed. Names of Arabic books, authors and any other Arabic words are transliterated.

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