No Pronouns for Hominids?

It's amusing how the New York Times guards human "specialness" by allowing no other species to be referred to with pronouns. You get used to reading about a female dog chasing "its" tail or a male chimpanzee guarding "its" turf, but today the paper goes even further. In an article about a hominid skeleton newly found in Africa, we have this peculiar passage--
"The Ardipithecus specimen, an adult female, probably stood four feet tall and weighed about 120 pounds, almost a foot taller and twice the weight of Lucy. Its brain was no larger than a modern chimp’s. It retained an agility for tree-climbing but already walked upright on two legs, a transforming innovation in hominids, though not as efficiently as Lucy’s kin.
Ardi’s feet had yet to develop the arch-like structure that came later with Lucy and on to humans. The hands were more like those of extinct apes. And its very long arms and short legs resembled the proportions of extinct apes, or even monkeys."
It's just not true that a whole new category of thing emerged just at the moment when our species sprang into existence--the "whos" as opposed to the "whats." The humans-only pronoun rule is just cheerleading for the home team, without basis in fact. Many, many mainstream writers about animals have stopped this nonsense. New York Times, take note.


Faust said...

I and Thou.

The world of IT vs the world of THOU.


Us v Them.

In the end that's really what morality comes down to. Are they part of our tribe? How big should we make our tribe? When do we admit to having a responsiblity for that which is not "ours."

Good catch, language is important.

Anonymous said...

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Jean Kazez said...