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CHAT: Homo Sapiens (was: fiery spirits)

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Saturday, October 18, 2003, 19:12
On Friday, October 17, 2003, at 07:48 , John Cowan wrote:

> Costentin Cornomorus scripsit: > >>> but how can you expect one >>> brought up in the classics to use >>> singular 'homo sapiens' in apposition to the >>> plural 'us'? :) >> >> By doing just that! "Us Homo sapiens..." >> Biological Latin ain't what we studied in school!
{sigh} I _know_ it ain't. I though the smiley might indicate that I wasn't being entirely serious.
> Technically, Homo sapiens is the name of our species, and as such is > singular. In my view, we are parts of that singular entity, not members > of > a group with that name.
Yep - quite right. Also technically, 'us Homo Sapiens' is still a plural pronoun in apposition to a singular noun; nor, indeed, is a part the same as the whole. To be correct I guess I should have written " of the Homo Sapiens species." It would be convenient if Homo Sapiens could be used like the English 'Man' which, when spelled with uppercase M, is a collective noun denoting the human species and has no plural; but can be - indeed is more often - an ordinary common noun 'man', with plural 'men', denoting an (adult, male) individual of that species, i. e. Homo Sapiens, but an 'homo sapiens' (plural: homines sapientes). The Latin would have the added advantage that 'homo' is epicene (the specifically adult male being 'uir', and adult female 'mulier' or 'femina') unlike English 'Man'. But, alas, 'tis not so. I just found " homines sapientes" vaguely amusing at the time. And by focusing on the literal meaning it might have made one consider whether the epithet 'sapientes' is entirely appropriate as we look at the behavior of members of Homo Sapiens around the world at the beginning of the 21st cent. Maybe I should've just written just plain ol' prosaic: " humans." Ray =============================================== (home) (work) ===============================================


Costentin Cornomorus <elemtilas@...>