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However, the following is included for those who wish to know what a "fesnyng" is...
Date: 15 May 1994 18:04:00 GMT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (JASON GROENJES)
Ben Walsh (email@example.com) wrote:
: This question has bothered me on a kind of conceptual, rather than a
: linguistic, level.
: The word "fesnyng" is the collective noun given to ferrets. A fesnyng
: of ferrets is one of those idiomatic and endearing terms now facing
: extinction. When was the last time anyone said "a murder of crows" and
: not "a flock"? A "charm of nightingales"? A "watch" of whatever it is
: that comes in watches?
: So, there is the rough Saxon term "fesnyng", heavy with both
: alliteration and assonance: "a fesnyng of ferrets". Lovely.
: Here, though, is the problem. Ferrets are fiercely solitary animals.
: They are no more likely to get together in a fesnyng than you or I are.
: So how, or why, does this word exist? How can you label something which
: does not ever happen.
: The argument: make your own fesnyng. Put a group of ferrets together (I
: believe that a bathtub is usually used for this purpose), and one might
: claim to be entitled to say "there's a fesnyng in my bath". However, I
: disagree. You do not have a fesnyng any more than several lions from
: different prides constitute one pride when put together.
: Any thoughts??
I have something much better than mere thoughts. Last night, in
the spirit of scientific research, I invited several people over for a
few beers. In my bathtub upstairs I installed 12 ferrets. Then,
whenever anyone returned from using the bathroom I asked them, "Did you
notice anything unusual in the bathroom?" Not a single individual
said he noticed anything unusual, but when I pressed further two or
three of them did say, "Well, there *was* a fesnyng in your
Now I completely agree with your contention that just gathering
together a few lions from different prides would not constitute a new
pride anymore than gathering together a random bunch of people would
result in a family, but what the above ferret experiment seems to show
is that, since ferrets do not *naturally* form fesnyngs, the fact that
I formed one unnaturally--so to speak--in my bathtub does not make it
any less a fesnyng, since there is no more genuine fesnyng to compare
In a further spirit of scientific research I plan to put 8 or 10
unrelated people of various genders in my bathtub and see if that
results in a family....
I hope this clears up the mystery.
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