Episode 144: A Murder of Crows and Princes

In the second half of the 1400s, there is written evidence of word play and new word formations within English. These new terms included words for the sounds made by animals and collective nouns for various groups of animals and people.  This was also a period when the Plantagenet era came to an end, and the first Tudor monarch seized the throne.  In this episode, we examine those linguistic and historical developments.


12 thoughts on “Episode 144: A Murder of Crows and Princes

  1. Thank you, Kevin for an amazing episode. I thoroughly enjoyed it as I drove home from work earlier. However, it did get me thinking: when working with American colleagues the only collective noun they’d use was “bunch” or “buuunch” emphasis on the ‘uuurn’ if there’ was a significant amount of something. They didn’t know the common collective nouns we in the UK use. Do you know why?

    • I don’t really have a good answer. Some of the terms like a ‘school of fish’ are very common in American English, but others like ‘murder of crows’ or an ‘unkindness of ravens’ are much less common in American English outside of literary references. I don’t think the collective nouns for groups of animals or people are taught in schools in the US, so I think Americans generally have to pick them up from reading or other resources. Maybe British English is a bit more conservative in this regard and has retained the older terms. I’m not really sure.

    • I believe that the terms came mostly from lords who wanted to keep track of the animals on their property and/or how many animals they caught on a hunt. Those customs have passed on, I guess.

  2. I have many corgis and created one joke in my life, and I think it might work for this community….(Thank you in advance for your indulgence.)
    Q: What do you call a group of corgis?
    A: a SHORTAGE of corgis!!!


    Thanks so much love the podcast and dialogue. Love from a bunch of corgis in Texas.

  3. Thank you so much for timing this podcast to perfectly coincide with my teaching Richard III. It very neatly explains all the very confusing history of the play, and my students and I are extremely grateful!

  4. Thank you for having the download feature on here. With the current electrical blackouts in Texas because of the cold weather I was having trouble getting to sleep without your voice. Truly, this is meant as a compliment!

    Speaking of voices…. Do you still need more samples? Perhaps someone who has a cringe-worthy Cental/West Texas accent?

  5. I believe Richard III’s skeleton was found beneath one of the letters R of the “car park”, painted in the tarmac. For the superstitiously minded, maybe there is something in that!

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