474 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 76 PART 3 MAY 2018
some hearing loss was a feature of the gig by noting that “the reliance upon
artistic value implies that statutory health and safety requirements must
cede to the needs and wishes of the artistic output of the Opera company …
such a stance is unacceptable. Musicians are entitled to the protection of the
law as is any other worker.” Even violists, it would appear.
The Grammarian: advice to a confused profession from one who knows
about these things:
Collective nouns, also known as “collectives” (not to be confused with
communist cells), are nouns used in singular form with a plural implication
(e.g., “a flock of sheep or parishioners”). “Flock” is the collective noun.
There is a misapprehension abroad that collective nouns are confined to
nouns that collect animals and birds—for instance, “a murder of crows” or
“a parliament of owls”. This is not so. There are dozens of collective nouns
we all use regularly, without realizing it. “Jury” is a collective noun. It is a
singular noun with a plural implication. “Family” is a collective noun. We
are often inflicted with a “bench of judges”.
Collectives may be divided into the following groups:
• Nouns denoting a whole made up of similar parts, such as committee,
orchestra or firm.
• Nouns that make no plural form but are used as both singular and
plural (e.g., counsel, deer or sheep).
• Names of materials used for a collection of things made from them
(e.g., silver, china, linen).
• Words of a number or amount that, when used after definite or
indefinite numerals, have the singular instead of the plural form:
six brace of grouse, a few hundredweight of coal. And so with
fathom, score, etc.
• Abstract singulars used instead of concrete plurals (e.g., accommodation
(rooms), royalty (royal persons)).
• Nouns denoting substance of indefinite quantity (e.g., butter,
Our favourites include “a mischief of rats”, “a quarrel of lawyers”, “a fudge
of accountants” and “a list of Oxford commas”.
For those of us who do not like rats as much as the Grammarian does, we
change the subject ... Victoriana 1263 is a shade of paint from Benjamin
Moore: “Victorian-inspired elegance is captured in this mid-tone mauve,
transporting us back to an earlier, more romantic time.”