Language Applied to Animals…

– – I most resent the word “varmint” when applied to foxes and other animals; it’s degrading and disrespectful, and dates back to a time when animals were treated unkindly as little better than things; sadly, some still hold this viewpoint.  Language is a curious and powerful thing, and the label that we apply to a living creature shapes how it is permissible to treat them.  As a tool of classification, language then also becomes a device of control.

Researchers from the Oxford Center for Animal Ethics along with the University of Illinois and Penn State University suggests that using such words as “varmints,” “critters,” and “beasts” to describe animals degrades the relationship that can exist between them and humans by contributing to a mindset of animals being trivial, unfeeling, and inconsequential.   Instead, a language should be cultivated that shows mutually respectful relationships between humans and the animals which live among them.  I’m fully on board with all of this…

…where we separate the sheep from the goats (so to speak) is in the beliefs of some animal rights academics that pets should be renamed “companions,” and that rats are just “free-living;”  pigeons are simply “free-roaming.”   While I do consider my co-habiting animals as companions, this is my personal choice, and I happen to be an animal myself (this is not necessarily a bad thing)!  When political correctness kicks in, however, it’s often time to take a holiday before things get silly and I’m expected to garb my animal companions in clothing, which they would hate anyways.

What can perhaps be taken away from all of this is the thought that words are powerful, not because an animal understands the nuances of language or cares what you call them but because words can influence how your mind works, with language choice subsequently affecting human behavior towards animals as well as countless other things.  If you doubt this, consider that psycholinguistics has been at the core of every successful political campaign for the last number of decades, with labels determining perceptions and serving as a substitute for independent critical thought for many…

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2 Comments on “Language Applied to Animals…”

  1. carycomic Says:

    I know what you mean by “getting silly.” The most classic case I can remember is the one cited by Johnny Carson back at the height of the Feminist Revolution. Some Rhode Island town council had apparently been seriously considering changing the designation of certain sewer coverings to…

    …PERSON-HOLES!

    Needless to say, that measure was defeated.

    • vulpesffb Says:

      They can call me anything they want, as long as it’s not “late for dinner” or “early in the morning…”


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