Cynthia, Hybrids and Genera.

Kenelm Philip fnkwp at
Mon Nov 11 07:04:44 EST 2002

> Has anyone ever tried to find out why this is - our _need_ to name
> (delineate) things?  Somebody probably has.  This is a universal
> "instinct" that is not suppressible in humanity...

There are two fairly obvious factors involved:

1) All animals have to be able to find things they need (food, shelter,
mates, etc.) and avoid things that are dangerous.

2) Humans have language, so they construct words for things rather than
having to point to everything all the time.

	By the way, this works only up to a point. If items are not per-
ceived as being useful or dangerous they may be ignored. Many years ago
I asked an Eskimo at Anaktuvuk Pass about their words for butterflies.
He said they had a word for 'butterfly', but no words for the different
kinds of butterflies. They didn't eat them, or make things from them,
so had no interest in the kinds. It looks as if taxonomy may have started
as a strictly utilitarian process.

							Ken Philip

P.S. Before someone brings this up, I gather that Eskimos have no more
words for snow than Europeans have--that claim is another 'factoid'
which will continue to be quoted and believed regardless of the facts.


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