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  1. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    what do you call a group of whales?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Mckk, Jan 7, 2014.

    My first thought was "A school of whales".

    Then I got confused and wondered if it should be "A shoal of whales" - according to wiki, school and shoal are used rather loosely, although technically shoaling is for social reasons and schooling is where a group of fish swim in a directed manner in the same er, direction lol.

    This was when I remembered, and promptly stumbled upon elsewhere on the internet, "A herd of whales" as well as "A pod of whales".

    In the process I also found "A gam of whales", which apparently means a group of whales that interact with seafarers.

    So... is it school, shoal, herd or pod?
     
  2. stevesh

    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    I believe 'pod' is correct.
     
  3. thewordsmith

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    First of all, whales are not fish, they are warm-blooded mammals just like humans. They give birth to live young rather than lay eggs and they nurse their young as humans do. They are also, surprisingly enough, air breathers rather than taking oxygen through gills. And how's that for holding your breath under water?????

    That being said, the standard identifiers for fish do not generally apply to whales. And, as classy as beluga whales may be, a school of whales would never apply unless they actually went to class!

    So, short answer? Stevesh is correct. The proper identifier would be 'pod'.
     
  4. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Yep, whale pods. I've never heard shoal used for a school of fish. Interesting.
     
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  5. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    And though there would seem to be an etymological relationship between the two words, shoal and school, there is in fact not. Their roots are sourced differently. Not unlike a dolphin (a member of the order cetacea, thus a kind of whale that congregates in pods) comes to resemble a fish for living in a similar environment, though the processes giving rise to the two similar forms are rather very different. ;)

    </nerdsplosion>
     
  6. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'gam' is also correct for a group of whales... generally used when the group is not a family [when it is, it's a pod], but made up of unrelated whales...
     
  7. TLK

    TLK Active Member

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  8. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    How on earth do you think I found "a gam of whales"? I didn't even know that word *until* I googled.

    Now what I can concede is that I may have searched for the wrong terms. I'd forgotten what the grammatical term was for things like shoal and herds etc.

    @thewordsmith - regardless of the creatures involved, I'd always thought "school" was weird as a collective noun :D Whenever I think "a school of fish" I always think of a fish school instead lol.

    Although your argument that whales are mammals and etc and thus one cannot use "school" for them is flawed. According to the wiki link here, you can have a school of dolphins.

    "Murder" is another weird one. What other animals use "murder"?

    Cheers all for the clarification btw. Pod (and gam) it is.

    Edit: Seems "herd" is equally valid for whales according to wiki?
     
  9. thewordsmith

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ooh! Gam. Yeah. I forgot that one! Thanks, mamma.

    @Mckk: Honestly? I've never heard of 'school' used in conjunction with dolphins. Hmm. Have to check that out. Thanks for the tidbit. Also never heard of 'herd' in correlation to whales but, since they are identified as bulls and cows, I don't guess that one is too unusual, eh?
     
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  10. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    far as i know, 'murder' only refers to a group of crows... don't know if it works for their cousins, the ravens...
     
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  11. Robert_S

    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    And guess what is one of the collective nouns for baboons...a congress.
     
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  12. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Correct. One speaks of an unpleasantness of ravens.

    One of my favorites is a dazzle of zebras.

    There's a little art gallery in Bar Harbor, Maine. One of my favorite watercolor paintings there is titled "Murder on a Harley." It features a motorcycle with half a dozen crows perched upon it. The license plate reads "CORVUS."

    You all know about my fondness for puns.
     
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  13. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    love it!
     
  14. thewordsmith

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Isn't that just truth in advertising? But the ones in the jungles are probably as a whole more intelligent than the ones in Washington. And I have always wondered which came first? The baboons in Washington or the Congress in the 'wilderness'.
     
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  15. thewordsmith

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dazzle of zebras? That's one I've never heard before!!!

    And... "Murder on a Harley"? What a wonderful image that one! Love it. Have never seen it but will definitely have to look it up.
     
  16. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Dazzle of zebras? Never heard of that one but it sounds really colourful! Murder on a Harley sounds like fun too.

    I personally find a fluther of jellyfish or a smack of jellyfish funny :D

    @Cogito - you have an artist for the painting? Google coughs up only motorbikes...
     
  17. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Found it. It's on the gallery's facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Art.on.West.Gallery. The artist's name is Ivan Rasmussen.

    My memory was slightly off on the license plate. It's CORVID, not CORVUS. And there were only three crows, no half a dozen. There's a good picture of it on the timeline, on June 13, 2013.
     
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