Social Question

hud's avatar

Should we change the scientific name for human beings?

Asked by hud (97 points ) August 7th, 2014

This example, http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/58236366-90/says-english-homophones-language.html.csp
and this one http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/local/longterm/williams/williams020499.htm clearly indicate that the meanings of certain words are irrelevent to the hypersensitive. The fact that they sound a certain way is enough to get people, who use them, fired.
Does this mean that scientists will have to stop using the scientific name for humanity, Homo sapiens, for fear that they will lose their jobs?

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24 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

This should be in social.

No, otherwise we’ll have to re-name homogenized milk. And homo milk has always been okay, even in Catholic school.

Catering to ignorant people is called the dumbing down of society. And that language school teacher has grounds for an inappropriate firing suit.

rojo's avatar

No, I just got used to being a Homo sapiens sapiens, which I understand is a step up from Homo sapiens idaltu Which I didn’t even know I would have been, all these years I have labored under the belief that I was a descendant of Cro-Magnon

gondwanalon's avatar

At one time homo was a perfectly good word. Homo is a Greek work for one or similar. Our genus name is Homo because we’re number one. We’re the top organism of all life on Earth. The best of the best. If you want to change our Genus name then how about “Magnificent sapiens”? Or perhaps “Sexual sapiens”. Or “War sapiens”. “Naked sapiens”? “Computer sapiens”?

Darth_Algar's avatar

Actually in this case the “homo” comes from the Latin word, meaning, simply, “man”. Homo sapiens = “intelligent man”. A few other examples are Homo habilis = “handy man”, Homo erectus = “upright man”, Homo neanderthalensis = “man (of the) Neander (Valley)”. Both Greek and Latin have the word “homo”, but they mean different things.

(Another well know usage of the Latin word is found in the Bible when Pilate presents the scourged Christ to the angry mob – “Ecce homo” (“Behold the man”)).

Darth_Algar's avatar

@rojo

Cro-Magnon is a bit troublesome because there’s some morphological differences from them to modern humans but it’s not really enough to classify them as a different species or to even classify them as a subspecies. For all intents and purposes they’re considered Homo sapiens sapiens. I suppose maybe it’s about like the morphological differences between different races of modern humans. I mean, generally speaking, a Norseman is probably going to be more robustly built than a Japanese man, but you can hardly consider them different species.

Also Cro-Magnon only appear around certain areas in Europe, so even if some modern humans descended from them most modern humans did not. Actually, if I recall correctly, with current scientific understanding the Basque people are the only group currently considered to maybe be descended from Cro-Magnon.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think we should change it. Nothing wrong with people learning some Latin. You can’t change Latin. However, the article referring to the word niggardly is a good example of why their could be some debate about dropping words if they sound offensive. I guess since I would not be offended if someone thought I was homosexual the word homo sapien does not bother me in the least. Whether I use homo to mean mankind or to mean two things are the same, it does not make me think of being gay at all. When a scientist says a person is homozygous for a particular gene it has never even occured to me or rang a bell in my head that it sounds the same as homosexual. Plus, homosexual is not deragotory as far as I know, we can’t say the same for the word nigger.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Hud? you shitting us?

janbb's avatar

Ecco Homo

dappled_leaves's avatar

No, people should just stop being offended by the use of inoffensive words in their correct context. It is a display of ignorance to conflate “homophonia” with “homophobia”.

gailcalled's avatar

I just recently spotted Homo neuroticus and did not need my two years of high school Latin to understand the drift.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@gailcalled Yes, I think that one of the reasons people overreact to sound-alikes is that they have no idea how words are constructed. A little more knowledge about etymology would make for fewer embarrassing declarations of offence.

rojo's avatar

Perhaps we should change it to Homo stulte exterminatore

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

No. That would be another step towards Newspeak. Too many words are outlawed by convention these days as it is.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

We already have Newspeak, it’s now called “political correctness” I don’t think the OP is serious just stirring the pot a little. If that’s the case then pre-humans like homo erectus would be even more offensive. I get pretty damn tired of all this hypersensitive bullshit myself.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I will admit that in my school days “homo erectus” gave me a chuckle, but even then I knew that it didn’t actually have anything to do with gays or boners.

downtide's avatar

After watching an hour of daytime TV I wonder if it’s the “sapiens” part that needs changing.

talljasperman's avatar

Human superior.

gailcalled's avatar

@downtide:

Homo ===>stultus, stupidus, stolidus, fatuus, stultividus, brutus, indocilis, insciens, inscitus:

DominicX's avatar

Maybe all these niggards should renege their statements…

whitenoise's avatar

One day at breakfast, when my boys were about 7 years old, they told us that they had heard someone call someone else a homo…

They wondered why, since at school they had learned that homo meant ‘human’.

Somehow I liked that.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me Agreed. It is so out of hand that in my country it is actually illegal to offend someone. It’s ridiculous.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Seriously? Where is it you live?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me Australia. This has been a recent issue of political debate, but the government has just decided not to repeal the law due to difficulties getting it through the Senate. See here.

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