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04/29/2011

The power of language: “pets” vs. “companion animals”  »


The Journal of Animal Ethics may be a new publication, but it’s already raised an intriguing issue: What should we call other animals?

Domestic dogs, cats, bunnies, hamsters, snakes, and what-have-you shall henceforth be referred to as “companion animals” rather than “pets,” while the humans formerly known as “owners” ought to be called “human carers,” the academics say. To do otherwise is insulting, they say. While “critters” and “beasts” are understandably decried, even the term “wildlife” is not safe. WHAT. 

From the article:

We shall not be able to think clearly unless we discipline ourselves to use less than partial adjectives in our exploration of animals and our moral relations with them.

I agree that certain widespread language used to talk about animals (“crazy like a fox” and “eating like a pig”) could be both a symptom and a cause of animal abuse, and I call the cat who lives with me by her name, but come on, “wildlife”? Is this going too far? Is it not far enough? Is it just right? What do you think?

[photo from the Telegraph]

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