Anthropomorphic language – it's only human

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navarre
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http://www.theguardian.com/media/min...its-only-human

A little while ago, I went for a walk and spotted a frog in the middle of the pavement. I stopped and squealed – partly because I live in London and the closest I’ve ever come to wildlife is living in mould-infested flats, but also because I was worried he’d get squashed.

Before I could figure out how to ensure the safety of my new slimy friend – who I quickly named Kermit – two men walked around the corner. I ushered them to walk to one side as I pointed at Kermit. One of them laughed, and, in a French accent (which didn’t alarm me until afterwards when I realised his potential appetite for frogs) said: “Oh, don’t worry. She’ll find her way back to safety.”

As I walked away, I realised he’d referred to Kermit as a “she”, when I’d assumed he was a “he”. I wondered if my tendency to think of animals as male had anything to do with the English language, so I asked a French person.

“If I saw a dog walk past,” Jesse said, “I would be more likely to say ‘he’ was cute. A frog, for me, is a she: une grenouille, the same way a spider is une araignée.”

French dog lovers might not instinctively think of Lupin as female. Facebook Twitter Pinterest
French dog lovers might not instinctively think of Lupin as female. Photograph: David Marsh
As well as the English speaker’s freedom to determine the sex of a new animal, we have another unquestioned animal norm: talking to and about animals as if they’re human. We might call a parrot mouthy, a dolphin happy or a shark evil; this unconscious anthropomorphic habit is ingrained in our language.

I spoke to George McGavin, an academic and TV presenter on shows including the BBC’s Monkey Planet. For such an animal-obsessive, even he struggles with his own anthropomorphic tendencies. As soon as we began talking he was ruminating aloud over calling an orangutan cute, and how unprofessional it was.
It's so hard not to give the animals we love human qualities. Even if it's scientifically wrong, that's how we can empathise with animals who are mistreated, or feel the happiness of animals when they are played with.
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Arkasia
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(Original post by Guardianista)
which didn’t alarm me until afterwards when I realised his potential appetite for frogs
Classic Guardian, I am surprised the author didn't include a post-modern interpretation of the evil white man objectifying the poor female frog and ignoring it's pleas for help - a clear sign of deep-rooted misogyny.
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RobML
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(Original post by Arkasia)
Classic Guardian, I am surprised the author didn't include a post-modern interpretation of the evil white man objectifying the poor female frog and ignoring it's pleas for help - a clear sign of deep-rooted misogyny.
Uh, what?
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Borgia
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(Original post by Arkasia)
Classic Guardian, I am surprised the author didn't include a post-modern interpretation of the evil white man objectifying the poor female frog and ignoring it's pleas for help - a clear sign of deep-rooted misogyny.
(Original post by RobML)
Uh, what?
You see, animals in the Golden Age of Islam were treated with justice and respect. The first recorded eating of an animal in human history when when a white straight cisssexual male ate a gazelle in a colonised African country.
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Arkasia
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(Original post by Borgia)
You see, animals in the Golden Age of Islam were treated with justice and respect. The first recorded eating of an animal in human history when when a white straight cisssexual male ate a gazelle in a colonised African country.
Indeed, and afterwards the male was chased out of the country for cultural appropriation.

(Original post by RobML)
Uh, what?
Allow me to regale you with the typical Guardianista:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...o-not-hate-men
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RobML
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(Original post by Arkasia)
Indeed, and afterwards the male was chased out of the country for cultural appropriation.



Allow me to regale you with the typical Guardianista:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...o-not-hate-men
I don't see the relevance of what you quoted
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Arkasia
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(Original post by RobML)
I don't see the relevance of what you quoted
It's simple, the Grauniad is increasingly infamous for columns dedicated to angry middle class feminists blaming everything on men (JV embodies that), and I was playing on that stereotype.
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RobML
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(Original post by Arkasia)
It's simple, the Grauniad is increasingly infamous for columns dedicated to angry middle class feminists blaming everything on men (JV embodies that), and I was playing on that stereotype.
I think frog-eating is a French stereotype, not a male stereotype. I might be wrong.
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Arkasia
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(Original post by RobML)
I think frog-eating is a French stereotype, not a male stereotype. I might be wrong.
Indeed, but don't underestimate the Grauniad - have you heard of the Thomas the Tank Engine article?
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