Uttaris pallidipennis in Miami

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In the news today I came across this rather strange report from the Associated Press:

MIAMI — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say they have intercepted a rare and dangerous insect found in a shipment of flowers at a Miami airport that could cause significant damage.

Officials said Saturday they were examining a box of flowers last week at Miami International airport when they found Hemiptera. Hemiptera's are typically aphids, cicadas, and leaf hoppers and comprise about 80,000 different species. They feed on the seed heads of grasses and sedges. The insect is found in South America.

Officials believe it is the first time the insect has been found in the U.S.

The report is inaccurate in several ways. The insect actually comes from South Africa, which is different from South America. There is no indication that it is rare. The fact that it isn't found in the United States doesn't make it rare. We don't say that tsetse flies are rare because they aren't found in the United States. Nor is there any reason to believe that it is dangerous. It may be destructive of plants, which is why this discovery is of interest, but even that isn't known. It isn't considered a pest in South Africa and it isn't known what would happen if it got loose and survived in Florida.

Several points are of linguistic interest. One is the reference to "Hemiptera". Hemiptera is the name of the order to which the insect, a member of the species Uttaris pallidipennis Stal belongs. A member of this order is a Hemipteran.

More interesting is the statement that "Hemipteras are typically aphids, cicadas, and leaf hoppers", which is not well-formed. What the author presumably meant is: "Typical members of the order Hemiptera are aphids, cicadas, and leaf hoppers". When you say that "Hemipterans are typically X", X must describe a characteristic; it can't list examples.

I suspect that there's a reason for the erroneous description of this insect as "dangerous". The usage of this word is rather interesting. Anything that can injure or destroy something can be described as "dangerous" to it. One can say, for example, that "Aphids are dangerous to roses.". But this only works if you specify what is subject to the danger. If we remove "to roses" and just say "Aphids are dangerous", the sentence becomes false. It seems that "dangerous" comes with a default bearer of the danger, namely human beings. When you say that something is dangerous without specifying to what, you mean that it is dangerous to people. Furthermore, it seems that a non-human bearer of the danger must be linguistically overt. Although we can felicitously say "Owls are dangerous to mice", even if the topic of conversation is predators of mice, it is not felicitous to say "Owls are dangerous." without adding "to mice". My guess is that someone said or thought that the insect in question might be "dangerous to crops" or something along those lines, and then, without thinking, removed "to crops".

The actual facts can be found in the much better report in the Miami Herald. The odd wording appears to have originated with Customs, in this press release. (Customs is now part of the "Department of Homeland Security" but I avoid using this name. Whenever I see it, I hear "Reichsicherheitshauptamt". )

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46 Comments »

  1. Aaron Davies said,

    August 30, 2009 @ 11:26 pm

    back when DHS was formed, i wondered if the government-insider short form for the title of the person in charge (ala SecDef, SecState, etc.) would be "SecSec". any government insiders here to confirm, deny, or refuse to comment?

  2. roscivs said,

    August 30, 2009 @ 11:32 pm

    While it's true that "Hemipterans are typically X" is a rather bizarre sentence at best, I don't think it's the case that such sentences are never well-formed. For example, I think you can say, "Wealthy Americans are typically lawyers, doctors, and businessmen."

    The more jarring linguistic usage for me was the two sentences after the "typically" sentence. I would expect them to refer to hemipterans in general (like the aphids and cicadas just listed), rather than the specific variety (which is strangely never actually named) that was unexpectedly found in Miami.

  3. Thomas Westgard said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 12:16 am

    This may not be the nerdiest thing I ever read, but it's close.

  4. Jean-Sébastien Girard said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 12:44 am

    As an aside, nobody seems to italicize the latin name properly. Normally you italicize the genus name (Uttaris) and specific epithet that follows it (pallidipennis), which the U.S. Custom press release does not do, but most definitely NOT what is here the "third part", known as the author citation, which is arguable entirely useless outside specialized publication to begin with (as demonstrated by the Miami-Herald's idiosyncratic take on it). Additionally, it likely should be properly spelled "Stål", as it most probably identifies Cark Stål.

  5. Jean-Sébastien Girard said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 12:48 am

    Just wanted to add that the problem with italicizing is that "Stal"suddenly becomes a subspecies name, as in Canis familiaris dingo

  6. asfo_del said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 12:49 am

    I am always perplexed about how to correctly use punctuation with quotation marks. My understanding is that the punctuation always goes inside the quotation mark unless the quote is part of a larger sentence, in which case it's okay to punctuate outside the quote. But I wonder at how this sentence is punctuated:

    Although we can felicitously say "Owls are dangerous to mice", even if the topic of conversation is predators of mice, it is not felicitous to say "Owls are dangerous." without adding "to mice".

    It seems to me that "Owls are dangerous" should have no punctuation at all, and certainly not a period in the middle of a sentence? I'm not nit-picking. I'm actually trying to figure this one out.

  7. Devon Strolovitch said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 1:44 am

    Gotta agree with roscivs — "Hemipterans are typically X" may not be typical, but it's not ill-formed (to me). "Computers (at that cafe) are typically Macs (and not PCs)" seems fine, though it could be that the prepositional phrase is crucial to it being acceptable — that it needs a phrase implying a selection, i.e. a characteristic type.

  8. Simon Cauchi said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 1:56 am

    I agree that "Hemipterans are typically X" is well-formed. but what on earth is a hemipteran? A creature with only half a wing, or with only half-wings? Perhaps I need to examine a cicada or an aphid some time.

  9. Dierk said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 2:40 am

    Shouldn't it be Hemipterae if the writer decided to go the 'Hey, I know what I am talking about' route? There's actually a rather rigid system established in biological systematics.

    And as Monsieur Girard said, italicising the describer's name is wrong, but then italics are wrong for the binomial anyway. The first [genus] is capitalised, the second [particular] left in lower case, both in normal font. at least so I learned.

    Contrary to roscivs I think the 'A are typically x' sentences are ill-formed; his example would work the other way round ['Lawyers etc. are typically wealthy Americans'] though it would leave something to desire. The problem arises from three little letters assumed by listeners/readers: all.

    In the 'A are typically x' sentence the receiver assumes that x describes necessary features of A, making A to be all A, not just some. Clearly neither are all wealthy Americans lawyers, doctors, or businessmen nor are all Hemipterae cicadas, aphids, or leaf hoppers.

  10. SWG said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 4:47 am

    No, the binomial name for a species is treated as Latin, and so the accepted practice is to have *both* parts of the binomial species name italicized in publications. The genus part of the binomial is capitalized, while the species epithet (and authors who formally described the species, if noted) are not. The author names are not italicized.

    There are some exceptions to the italics rule for scientific names: A few names have practically become 'common' English words (for scientists at least), and so major study organisms like Drosophila and Arabidopsis are no longer italicized in many non-taxonomic scientific journals (though they retain capitals, oddly).

    The adjectival forms of scientific names are not capitalized or italicized, as they are treated as English words. So it should be 'hemipteran' above, not 'Hemipteran'.

    'Typical' species: Families and genera of animals do have a 'type species' used in formally naming organisms — so in this limited sense they *do* have a single 'typical' member. The type species gives the stem of the name to higher ranks in the taxonomy (e.g., genus part of binomial, Drosophila –> family Drosophilidae), etc. But animal orders like Hemiptera (orders are ranked above families) don't have to follow this naming convention.

  11. SWG said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 4:48 am

    Oops, author names follow normal conventions and have capitals (just not italics).

  12. Stephen Jones said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 5:21 am

    When you say that "Hemipterans are typically X", X must describe a characteristic; it can't list examples.

    Here are a couple of examples from the COCA.
    Displaced homemakers are typically women between the ages of 40 and 61 who have worked exclusively in the home
    Plaintiffs are typically investors with relatively small holdings — 10 to 100 shares.
    On the other hand 'are typically' comes up with 1511 hits, of which only 45 are of the pattern 'are typically + noun' so it does seem lists of examples are rare. I'm not sure about ill-formed though.

  13. Tom Saylor said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 7:18 am

    I'm with Bill Poser on this. Sentences like "Wealthy Americans are typically lawyers, doctors, and businessmen" strike me as a bit odd–carelessly written. They force us to interpret "and" disjunctively, and I think that goes against the grain. Compare the unobjectionable "Wealthy Americans are typically fat, pushy, and smug." It implies that the typical wealthy American is fat, pushy, *and* smug. "Wealthy Americans are typically lawyers, doctors, and businessmen," on the other hand, implies that the typical wealthy American is a lawyer, a doctor, *or* a businessman–not that he has three different professions.

  14. rolig said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 8:38 am

    The thing that struck me about this clumsily written AP article is that we are never told the name of the insect in question. The writer makes it sound as if the insect's (personal?) name is "Hemiptera": "when they found Hemiptera". This is actually rather humorous. I think AP tends to underestimate its readers. This clause should read: "when they found an insect of the order Hemiptera." And then go on to write: "This order includes aphids …" At some point, probably after describing the order, the article should say: "The insect that was found is of the species Uttaris pallidipennis, which originates in South Africa, where it is known as [insert common English name]." South Africa is an English-speaking country, so this insect probably as a common name, especially if it is a familiar pest. I tried to Google the species name, but found only 53 hits, all relating to the Miami stowaway, so I am wondering if somebody misspelled something. Such things are what we have to look forward to, now that news media are laying off copy-editors in mass numbers.

  15. Ed Cormany said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 8:53 am

    the notion that the unexpressed "bearer of danger" is human seems to just be a default pragmatic assumption. the unexpressed object is pragmatically interpreted as the speaker, or the class typified by the speaker. in any real-world scenario, the speaker is human, but it would be perfectly felicitous for a cartoon mouse to say "owls are dangerous"—by virtue of the category he typifies, he means "dangerous to mice", not "dangerous to humans".

    certain other verbs also show this property, but to show that the interpretation is really semantico-pragmatic, compare the following:

    Cigarettes kill.
    ? Lions kill.

    The predicate 'kill' is identical in the two sentences, but by varying the subject it's possible to change the pragmatic expectations about the default subjects. Cigarettes kill humans; lions kill any number of things (hopefully not humans), so dropping the object is questionable.

  16. Troy S. said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 9:47 am

    In Greek, Hemiptera is already a plural (presumably of hemipteron hemi "half" + pteron "wing") to describe a class of creatures that fit the description ("half-winged", apparently half their wings are hard and the other half membranous.) So it's already unnecessary to doubly pluralize it. Hemipterans is, I suppose, a suitable workaround to Anglicize it and avoid a double plural.

  17. CJT said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 9:50 am

    Did no one else notice the incorrect use of the apostrophe in the second line of the second paragraph? The original paper appears to have sloppy standards in a number of areas.

  18. Andrew said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 10:05 am

    No one seems to have commented on the fact that it doesn'tr in fact say 'hemipteras' but 'hemiptera's'. I'm not sure if this is a simple greengrocer's apo'strophe, or whether it's an example of the rule that an apostrophe is used when pluralising terms not normally pluralised – letters of the alphabet, numbers etc. (Though I find it hard to see why 'hemiptera' should be thought to fall within that class.)

  19. Ellen said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 10:09 am

    asfo_del: I believe either is okay, it's a style choice. Ideally, one would not mix both in the same writing, but in a blog post one can be forgiven for mixed style, I think.

  20. Ellen said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 10:12 am

    Andrew, not so much strange, I think, that someone would think of hepitera as not normally pluralized, but rather, that one would think of it as not normally pluralized but pluralize it anyway. I did note the apostrophe, and was also surprised at the lack of comment.

  21. Chad Nilep said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 10:52 am

    @Stephen Jones

    Do I take you to be saying that "Displaced homemakers are typically women between the ages of 40 and 61 who have worked exclusively in the home" defies the proposed rule, "X must describe a characteristic"?

    While it is a noun phrase, "women between the ages of 40 and 61" is a description of a characteristic type, not an individual. Ditto "investors with relatively small holdings".

  22. Sven said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 10:54 am

    All the counter-examples to "X are typically Y" in the comments so far are logically different from the one Bill was criticizing. In the statement "Hemiptera's (sic) are typically aphids, cicadas, and leaf hoppers", all Y are X, i.e., Y is a subset of X. By contrast, in the statement "wealthy Americans are typically lawyers, doctors, and businessmen", Y and X overlap without clear hierarchy (i.e., they have an intersection that is neither empty nor equal to one of the sets). I think this distinction is critical and the statement in the AP article is ill-formed even if the other statement is well-formed.

  23. Robert Coren said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 11:27 am

    I'm a little surprised that nobody has mentioned that the very first quoted sentence cold easily be read as suggesting that the Miami airport (or possibly the flowers) could cause significant damage.

  24. Mr Fnortner said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 11:45 am

    Reichsicherheitshauptamt could be a typical misspelling of Reichssicherheitshauptamt, whereas this may be an ill-formed sentence.

  25. GE Wilker said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 11:47 am

    Actually, my initial reading of the quoted passage was that Hemiptera (Hemipterans? Hemipters?) had never been found in the US before, a statement that seemed to directly contradict the suggestion that cicadas and aphids were examples of Hemiptera. I had to read the Herald article before I understood they were discussing a particular species of the order Hemiptera.

    I think the 'typical Hemipterans are' is comphrehensible, even if not strictly correct, because given that the items listed are transperantly examples rather than characteristics, the reader will mentally replace 'are' with 'include'; 'typical Xs include Ys, Zs, and Qs' is perfectly well-formed. It only becomes confusing in conjunction with the lack of clarity about the type of insect earlier in the paragraph.

  26. Faldone said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 12:34 pm

    Google thinks it might be Ataris pallidipennis. Judging from the relative numbers of hits for the two terms, they just might be right. WARNING: Do not click on any links relating to any football teams in the Ataris Pallidipennis search.

  27. majolo said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 12:44 pm

    @Sven: The X=computers, Y=Macs example from Devon Strolovitch has Y being a subset of X. I'm with those who find these examples well-formed. A quick Google book search finds 44 examples of the phrase "are typically lawyers" (though not all are germane). For instance, the sentence "Legislators are typically lawyers or businessmen, with a few farmers, physicians, and teachers" from
    Twelve studies of the organization of Congress‎ – Page 272
    by Cornelius P. Cotter, Alfred De Grazia

  28. J. W. Brewer said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 12:48 pm

    Maybe Tom Saylor meant "unobjectionable" in a purely syntactic sense, but it's a pretty salient and noteworthy fact about the contemporary U.S. that our rich are substantially less likely to be fat than our poor. This means among other things that social disapprobation toward the obese has a class-snobbery angle to it that may go beyond whatever the medical reasons for concern are. (And against the backdrop of human history, having conquered famine so conclusively that a society's poorer segments now disproportionately suffer from medical difficulties associated with chronic obesity is sort of a perverse triumph.)

  29. Stephen Jones said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 1:17 pm

    is a description of a characteristic type, not an individual. Ditto "investors with relatively small holdings

    ditto for 'lawyers. doctors and businessmen'

    Sven's point is probably more apposite.

  30. Sven said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 1:23 pm

    @majolo: "Computers (at that cafe) are typically Macs (and not PCs)." Let's omit the first parenthesis, which is not important, and switch the Macs and PCs, so it doesn't ring false. Then we get "Computers are typically PCs." Now if you understood PCs very literally, as a brand name (IBM PC, now long defunct), or only slightly less literally, as a set of brands (IBM PC and its clones), then I would still think this was an ill-formed sentence. But I – and probably you, too – understand "PCs" in this context – especially as it was explicitly contrasted with Macs – as "computers running Windows", which makes the sentence semantically equivalent to "Computers are typically Windows-based", which is of the form "X are typically Y" with Y describing a characteristic. Thus, Devon's example is not a counterexample to Bill's thesis – it follows the form Bill said such sentences should.

  31. Janice Huth Byer said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 1:31 pm

    Kudos to the AP for providing an excellent illustration for a previous LL entry, Mark Liberman's "How Science Reporting Works". I suppose the reporter could've meant Hemitera are rare in South America, heh, where they aren't normally found.

    Thanks, Bill, also for articulating why I, too, refuse to call our federal security department by a name that insinuates we're ambitious for an empire.

  32. Jerry Friedman said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 2:01 pm

    I wonder whether the AP author had in mind that "Hemiptera" and "Hemiptera's" (sic) would be like "partridge" and "partridges", where someone shoots two partridge and looks them up in Partridges of the World.

  33. Russell said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 2:06 pm

    If you're interested in some recent thoughts about semantic and pragmatic issues re: the omissible argument(s) of danger (or of predicates in general), you could do worse than a paper by Greg Carlson and Gianluca Storto: "Sherlock Holmes Was In No Danger".

  34. Peter Taylor said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 2:46 pm

    Reichssicherheitshauptamt is probably a more appropriate name for the DHS than Department of Homeland Security anyway. Or perhaps that should be Amerikanerreichssicherheitshauptamt for clarity.

  35. Mr Fnortner said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 2:52 pm

    After having made my fun, but snide, comment about the misspelling of Reichssicherheitshauptamt, I gave serious thought to Mr. Poser's assertion, "When you say that 'Hemipterans are typically X', X must describe a characteristic; it can't list examples." I interpret Mr. Poser's caution to mean that, as an adverb, typically must modify (for example) adjectives, such as fat, pushy, and smug.

    While I at first took this at face value, on second thought I questioned what typically was modifying. In the sentence, "These xyz people are typically fat, pushy, and smug," typically is modifying each adjective, and Mr. Poser is right on the money. That is, these people are typical of the xyz type. In the original text, however, typically modifies the verb are. Removing the adverb, we have "Hemipteras are aphids, cicadas, and leaf hoppers," a perfectly fine sentence. Substituting any of innumerable other adverbs, such as truly, frequently, often, occasionally, routinely, never, sometimes, likely, and so forth, produces a series of fine sentences also. I am at a loss for why typically is unique among adverbs.

  36. Sven said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

    @Mr Fnortner: "I am at a loss for why typically is unique among adverbs." – I don't think it is. Let's look at a logically analogous sentence with more familiar facts:

    "New England states are Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine." – This is grammatically correct but factually false: it implies that the list is exhaustive. Thus, your example w/o adverb is grammatical but false. An adverb is required to make it a true (or at least not outright false) statement.

    "New England states are typically Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine." – This is analogous to the original sentence, and it doesn't sound right to me.

    "New England states are truly Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine." – Doesn't make sense.

    "New England states are frequently Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine." – Those may be the frequently mentioned ones, but the sentence is very awkward at best.

    And so on, going through your list of adverbs, none of them seem to work. Now, admittedly, my analogy is crude because it is of the form "X are Q-ly Y1, Y2, and Y3" where Yi are elements of the set X, while the original sentence was of the subtly different form "X are Q-ly Y1, Y2, and Y3" where Yi are subsets of the set X, so that the implied meaning is "Elements of X are Q-ly elements of Y1, Y2, or Y3".

    So let's try a very close analogy with the original sentence:

    "Felines are lions, tigers, and domestic cats." – Grammatical, but false.

    "Felines are typically lions, tigers, and domestic cats." – Sounds better than the New England example, but still wrong. What is it supposed to mean? That most felines belong to one of those subgroups? Then, at a minimum, "and" should be "or", but it is awkward and unclear nevertheless. Or that a typical feline is a lion, a tiger, or a cat? That makes no sense. A typical feline is furry, playful, and beautiful – all felines have those characteristics to some degree, the characteristics are possibly fuzzy or subjective, but the sentence says that a specimen would be unusual among felines if it didn't have all three characteristics to a significant degree. But a specimen either is or isn't a lion, and being or not being a lion doesn't make a specimen any more or less typically feline.

    And it goes similarly with other adjectives on your list.

  37. Jerry Friedman said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

    As long as we're being nerdy, the "typically" statement is factually false. When I was reading the Golden Book of Insects or whatever, Hemiptera comprised the "true bugs", with half-hardened, half-membranous forewings. Since then, the cicadas, aphids, leafhoppers, etc. (with completely membranous wings) have been added, and the true bugs are now Heteroptera, just part of Hemiptera. However, according to Wikipedia, about half the species of Hemiptera are true bugs. So if there's such a thing as typical Hemiptera, they're spit bugs, assassin bugs, bedbugs, water striders, etc.—not cicadas, aphids, or leafhoppers.

    For me, "typically" in "A is typically B" means "in typical or normal situations" or "in most cases". But there are no cases or situations here, even in imagination, just supposedly typical examples. So I agree that "typically" is the wrong word.

  38. Ellen said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 5:43 pm

    Mr Fnortner wrote:

    In the sentence, "These xyz people are typically fat, pushy, and smug," typically is modifying each adjective,

    I disagree. Seems to me that if "typically" were modifying each adjective, then we'd be talking about people who are fact, pushy, and smug in a typical way. But that's not what the sentence means. I think this may be one of those sentence adverbs. And the particular it most modifies, semantically, is "people", even though it doesn't gramatically modify "people". It could be restated, "the typical people in xyz group are fat, push, and smug".

  39. Mr Fnortner said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 5:49 pm

    Actually, Ellen, that is what I meant. And I think we are asking my sentence to do too much work. Imagine that folks whose name begin with Tweedle are fat. That is what I meant. Tweedledum and Tweedledee are typically fat, therefore.

  40. Mr Fnortner said,

    August 31, 2009 @ 6:28 pm

    Sven, I do not hold that grammatical sentences must make sense (The cow jumped over the moon.) or that sentences must make sense to be grammatical. I agree that it is not fair to remove the meaning of the adverb from the sentence while we test for reasonableness. What I intended was that someone would rise to the challenge and say 'this is the characteristic of "typically" that makes it an inappropriate adverb in this usage,' not simply that the word is not right for the situation.

  41. Joshua said,

    September 1, 2009 @ 1:30 am

    What struck me as odd is the imprecision of saying that "they found Hemiptera," when Hemiptera is an order, not a species.

    It would be sort of like saying that if there was a disease-infected monkey in the cargo hold of an airplane, that customs officials were alarmed to find Primates on the airplane. Yes, the problematic organism would be a member of the order of Primates, but then every airplane that has ever landed successfully had at least one primate on board.

  42. joseph palmer said,

    September 1, 2009 @ 5:42 am

    It's a good job the poor author here was savaged by a group of descriptivists with access to wikipedia – just imagine what prescriptivists might have done to him/her!

  43. Ellen said,

    September 1, 2009 @ 10:51 am

    but then every airplane that has ever landed successfully had at least one primate on board

    Not so, and it's even come up on language log. (Okay, landings weren't discussed, but I'm assumming their have been successful landings of pilotless drones.)

  44. Chris said,

    September 1, 2009 @ 7:51 pm

    What struck me as odd is the imprecision of saying that "they found Hemiptera," when Hemiptera is an order, not a species.

    Sounds like the reporter who wrote/rewrote the story simply had no clue which of those snobby Latin terms actually referred to *this* insect (i.e. Uttaris pallidipennis), rather than to the larger group (Hemiptera) of which it is a part.

    BTW, while it may technically be wrong to cite a genus and species name without an author's name after it, in practice it's pretty routine. When the discussion is not very technical, it's generally not important *who* defined the species you are discussing. Only in case of controversy or confusion is it likely to be important to stress that this is Genus species as defined by SMITH rather than as defined by JONES (who may have published a different definition of a species with the same name). (No one is supposed to do this, of course, but once in a while it happens accidentally.)

  45. Joshua said,

    September 1, 2009 @ 10:17 pm

    Ellen: The link is broken, but I stand corrected anyway. Disregard the last sentence of my previous comment and the rest of my point stands.

  46. joseph palmer said,

    September 2, 2009 @ 2:02 am

    Sometimes being technically right is not the best way to communicate in a given situation anyway, and isn't effective communication what we should be most interested in as linguists? Most of the time people do not mean to include humans when they refer to primates, and since Joshua's claim does not sound especially scientific it conjures up monkeys.

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