Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What is the appropriate collective nouns for grad students and postdocs?

English is weird with its collective nouns: a gaggle of geese, a parliament of owls. What is the appropriate collective noun for grad students, Jon Lam asks? on Twitter:
Is there a collective noun for grad students? A depression, maybe? As in: surface defect on society, among other interpretations
The very interesting Kelly Sullivan responds: "the collective [noun] for grad students is an 'indenture'" and follows up with the very funny "graduate school... it's not just a job, it's an indenture!" Ouch!

I confess, both of those are rather depressing. Anyone got a better idea? I like the gentle "school", as in "a school of fish." 

17 comments:

  1. Bloviation. Or at least where did mine this was the case.

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  2. A "naivety" of grad students? But perhaps that's too obvious.

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  3. A "gruppe" of grad students. Alliterative and Teutonic. Calls to mind the glory days of German science.

    But since cynicism has its appeal, how about a "flotsam" of grad students?

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    1. While we're at it, there is actually kind of a dedicated term in German for anything inbetween PhD students and lecturers (without any "professor" in their title) - we call that "akademischer Mittelbau" (i.e. middle tiers in academia...)

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  4. We have taken to calling it an "awkward" of grad students on my floor.

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  5. I would go for murmuration, such as in 'murmuration of starlings'. http://vimeo.com/58291553#

    (it is more uplifting than thinking along the lines "bright enthusiastic hopeful students = ephemeral light given off by bonfire sparks" )

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  6. How about a... DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMing!! of Grad Students?

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    1. Unstable IsotopeJune 4, 2013 at 4:41 PM

      I vote for DOOOOOOOOOOOMMMM

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  7. The Iron ChemistMay 30, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    A serfdom.

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  8. I think an indenture wins. The only reason it isn't slavery is it ends. Well, usually.

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    1. " The only reason it isn't slavery is it ends"

      That and one does it willingly, can leave anytime, and gets paid for it. Probably less whipping as well, though uncertain this aspect from soem PIs.

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  9. A redundancy of grad students. A shrug of postdocs.

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    1. LOLing at the "shrug" of post-docs. I actually used the phrase "they don't pay me to give a @%#&" when I was told by maintenance that they were going to turn off my compressed air for a couple of hours. On a side note, not usually so glib but I've talked with these guys a lot while setting up a new lab space. They like to cuss and my lab-mates were out eating lunch so I figured I was safe.

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  10. A canonical ensemble

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  11. a "dismay" of grad students & an "anguish" of post-docs

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  12. An underpinning of grad students.
    A schadenfreude of post-docs.

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