Saturday cartoon by Ralph Underhill

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10 Replies to “Saturday cartoon by Ralph Underhill”

  1. We think in concepts which are crystalized in individual words, don't we, so language does indeed shape our thinking. The chemical industry likes to talk of 'crop-protection chemicals' of course, rather than pesticides, which gives a very different feel. Have you heard of 'would you eat an alien?', which explores different attitudes to animals: pet, wild animal, food animal etc.

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  2. Bang on Ralph.
    It is so much a matter of language, and the underlying attitudes betrayed by a particular choice of word.
    A "weed" is often described as "a plant in the wrong place".
    A "pest", therefore, might be described as "a creature in the wrong place".
    "Vermin", I can only imagine as it's not a word I ever use, might mean "a species which is always a pest".
    I would then ask, "at what point in history did certain species become 'vermin'?"
    If someone answered, "when humans began farming" that would indicate that humans are the problematic part of the equation.
    If someone answered, "certain species just are vermin" that would indicate that the person speaking is utterly clueless / making it up as they go along and probably shouldn't be taken too seriously on any matters pertaining to wildlife / nature / the countryside etc.

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    1. "a creature in the wrong place"

      It depends on what it is doing. I suspect also that human endo- and exoparasites and viral, bacterial and protozoan diseases and their vectors all pre-date farming.

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  3. The gift of language allows us to define other species in our terms. Some see birds and mammals as 'game' (kill and eat) or 'vermin' (just kill). Others see them all as wildlife. The problem is that these two groups don't understand each other's terms of reference.

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    1. Where I come from, lad, they're brambles. And if you call them blackberries near the Mrs, you'll be in danger of excommunication. And Big Big Train say brambles in Hedgerow as well. The dog used to love them by any name.

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