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An Exaltation of Larks: The Ultimate Edition Paperback – November 1, 1993
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Many of these terms are commonplace: plague of locusts, pride of lions, litter of pups. Imagine, though, hearing these expressions for the first time. Lipton invites us to "sharpen our senses by restoring the magic to the mundane."
Lipton traced a number of these terms back to the 1400s, specifically to THE BOOK OF ST. ALBANS, printed in 1486. In addition to today's ordinary terms, he discovered some that had a fresh sound, precisely because they had not made the 500-year journey to our modern era.
Lipton identifies six sources of inspiration for the terms. He lists these "Families" with the following examples:
1. Onomatopoeia: a murmuration of starlings, a gaggle of geese.
2. Characteristic (by far the largest Family): a leap of leopards, a skulk of foxes.
3. Appearance: a knot of toads, a parliament of owls.
4. Habitat: a shoal of bass, a nest of rabbits.
5. Comment (pro or con depending on viewpoint): a richness of martens, a cowardice of curs.
6. Error (in transcription or printing; sometimes preserved for centuries): "school" of fish was originally intended to be "shoal."
Lipton enthusiastically joined the "game" of coining terms, which had been in progress for more than 500 years. In 1968 he published his first EXALTATION OF LARKS, which contained 175 terms -- some from Middle English, some original. Neither the hardbound nor the paperback edition went out of print before the Ultimate Edition (with more than 1,000 terms) was published in 1991.Read more ›
Would you believe such sayings have a tangible history, and have been planned?
This is the topic of James Lipton's sometimes humorous but always classic book, An Exaltation of Larks. If you've ever the privledge of watching the actor's studio, then you know of James Lipton--one of television's finest interviews and hosts.
In 1968, he wrote a book about the beauty and flexibility of the English language called an Exaltation of Larks. It is a study of the English-speaking tradition of coupling words to describe a set, where both words indicate the same thing, such as "a rope of pearls" and "a school of fish."
For the first part of the book, Mr. Lipton list the more common phrases and the research that has gone into finding out their meaning--where, for instance, "a pride of lions" originated and how long ago it was first used. (The oldest in the English langauge, apparently!)
Where the 1968 edition--which has never been out of print--had only had 118 pages and 175 terms, the Ultimate edition has 300 pages and 1,100 terms.
This would make a very fine gift for any Anglophile, artist, writer or comic. Witty, warm, and extremely observant, with clever line illustrations; a plus to any friend's library or your own.
A few of the choicer phrases are shown below, although of course it's difficult to pick out just a few gems when there is a treasure trove within these covers:
A rash of dermatologists;
A pound of Englishmen;
A solidarity of Poles;
An outback of Aussies;
A quicksand of credit cards;
A thrill of brides;
A convulsion of belly dancers;
An insanity of clauses.
Lipton gives all sorts of fascinating background on the existing phrases and provides many good reasons for the ones he makes up. The result is a hoot, and lots of fun to read aloud to your friends and family. Accompanying the text are superb, crisp old engravings of everything under the sun, each appropriate to the particular section in which it appears (sections include "Romance and Raunch," "People, Places & Things," "The Unknown," "The Unexpected," "Professions," and more). "An Exaltation of Larks" is the perfect gift for the word-lover who has everything else.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Awesome book, if you are into venereal nouns and their history you will love this book.Published 4 days ago by Becky Thomas
Every page is enlightening about every group you can think. I especially appreciated the name to which Congress is associated.Published 2 months ago by Marilyn Heimsath
The introduction is worth the price of the book. Literate, delightful, and elucidating.Published 4 months ago by Matthew Lawrence
This is a great book by James Lipton. A gaggle of geese. A Murder of Crows. A Wince of Dentists. More amazing than learning all of the terms are the drawings and graphics on EVERY... Read morePublished 6 months ago by L Parlapiano
Maybe my fault for not reading the description better, or maybe the seller's fault, but note that this book is really light on real collective And instead has a lot of collective... Read morePublished 7 months ago by satisfied buyer