You're heard the expression, "He and his ilk." You've probably used it yourself.
It seems lately that ilk have been getting a bad rap. You’ll notice that ilk are almost always cast in a negative light. This senseless reaction to the generally harmless ilk is almost certainly grounded in fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the unusual. Fear of things that are different than what we are accustomed to.
Not everyone reacts to ilk with cold-sweating aversion, however, in fact you may even have ilk of your own. Believe it or not, some people actually enjoy the company of their ilk more than they like being around you. In any case, it is important that we all try to better understand ilk, for acceptance begins with a willingness to set aside personal prejudices and preconceptions.
Let’s begin by answering the question that’s uppermost on everyone’s mind: What is the plural form of the singular noun “ilk?”
Surprise! It is still “ilk.” Like bison, sheep, deer and swine, the plural form is exactly the same as the singular. Well, not like swine. That’s too negative, and we’re trying to get away from that. Forget I said swine. Like deer. Deer are very nice.
Ilk are seldom found in the wild anymore, probably due to the overuse of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and cell phones. However, in urban environments they thrive, and where you find one ilk you will usually spot more. When referred to collectively (as in a “herd of cattle” or a “gaggle of geese”), ilk group into what’s commonly referred to a “Rabble of Ilk.” Due to the negative undertone, however, there is a movement among serious ilk enthusiasts to have this officially changed to an “Exaltation of Ilk.” So far politicians and their ilk have refused to act on the initiative.
Ilk are highly social creatures, often found hanging around gun shows, while at NRA conventions they’ve been known to actually swarm. There is no known explanation for this peculiarity of the species.
Ilk are easily domesticated and prized for their their milk. Some folks say that ilk milk is even better than yak milk, however it is much more expensive due to the fact that most of the old time Ilk Milkers have gone the way of the Yellowbellied Sapsucker. There are few people left who really know how to milk an ilk properly, and of course I am one of them, for I can milk anything, including this subject almost to the point of death.
A final word – never mistake kin for ilk. Kin are ilk-wannabes. Kin are tied to us only by blood, whereas ilk (for those of us lucky enough to have them) are connected to us like our own shadows.
Hope this helps. For more information get my pamphlet, “The Care and Feeding of Ilk” available on my website for just $1 per copy, or 50 copies for five bucks.
Until next time when we’ll talk about “Negative Light,”