Saturday, April 21, 2007

Talking chicken

Can chickens really talk?

Nah, not really. But you might want to believe so if you are an animal rights activist. Geoffrey Pullum at Language Log talks about it here, and he aptly concludes:

Of course birds communicate fear, solidarity, warning, lust, etc. What I'm trying (utterly in vain) to draw people's attention to is the fact that there is a common misconception that this means they have language in the sense that humans have it — i.e., that humans are not much more than chickens with ballpoint pens. The really deep offense here is not so much the pathetic gullibility of the sentimentalists who anthropomorphize the animals they love, and over-attribute intelligence and verbality to them, but rather the insult to humans.

Amen to that, Mr. Pullum. Your words are not in vain here.

No comments: