CHOICE OF WORDS
One of the most important results of the speech activity discussed in the preceding chapters has been the accumulation of a rich store of synonyms. The choice of words thus afforded is the principal source of the capacity of English for the expression of refinements of meaning. The bewildering variety of words, however, proves at times almost an embarrassment, and one of the sources of difficulty in gaining effective command of English lies in the very richness of its vocabulary.
By way of illustration of the complex variety of words that one is required to select from, let us take a collection of phrases involving the idea of group, or number.1 One may speak of a bevy of quail, but in speaking of birds in general, the collective word called for is flock. In other instances still different words are called for, as exemplified by the following phrasal combinations: Pack of wolves, gang of thieves, host of angels, shoal of porpoises, herd of buffalo or cattle, troop of children, covey of partridges, galaxy of beauty, horde of ruffians, heap of rubbish, drove of cattle, mob of blackguards, school of whales, congregation of worshipers, corps of engineers, band of robbers, swarm of locusts, crowd of people.
The agreement required between the words in the phrases cited is like the concord required in inflectional endings in languages such as Latin. This concord in meaning, however, gives rise to the fault branded by the rhetorician as redundancy, since the words gang, drove, congregation, etc.,____________________