"homo sapien"

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  • MrPedantic

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    It should be Homo sapiens, with an s on the end.

    "Homo" is the genus, and should start with a capital letter; "sapiens" is the species epithet.

    Best wishes

    MrP
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It also explains that it is an (erroneous) back formation from the correct, homo sapiens.

    Homo sapien has two possible uses.

    (1) As a flippant comment in a context where everyone knows that the correct term is homo sapiens.

    (2) As a non-standard term demonstrating clearly that you have no comprehension of the correct usage.

    Unless you are very certain that you will succeed in (1), do not risk the possibility of being assumed to be (2).

    The choice is yours.
     

    jazyk

    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    It should be sapiens, present participle of Latin sapere (to know). Present participles are similar to gerunds: homo sapiens - knowing man, or relative clauses: the man that knows.
     

    JLanguage

    Senior Member
    USA: American English, Learning Hebrew and Spanish
    It also explains that it is an (erroneous) back formation from the correct, homo sapiens.

    Homo sapien has two possible uses.

    (1) As a flippant comment in a context where everyone knows that the correct term is homo sapiens.

    (2) As a non-standard term demonstrating clearly that you have no comprehension of the correct usage.

    Unless you are very certain that you will succeed in (1), do not risk the possibility of being assumed to be (2).

    The choice is yours.
    I know I've heard "a homo sapien" before, and although incorrect, it doesn't really strike me as an egregious error. Just my two cents.
     

    swyves

    Senior Member
    UK English, Living in Peru
    An ironic oxymoron? It's the scientific name of our species! And, although now extinct, plenty of Homos have walked the earth despite not being sapiens.

    By the by, I was always taught that the only correct ways of writing a scientific name are:

    Homo sapiens

    Homo sapiens

    and always with the generic capitalized and the specific not. Maybe not universal usage, but "correct", whatever that means....
     

    modus.irrealis

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    I know I've heard "a homo sapien" before, and although incorrect, it doesn't really strike me as an egregious error. Just my two cents.
    I agree with you. I know I've heard that but I can't say I've heard "a homo sapiens." I remember in Grade 3 or 4, we used to go around asking people "are you a homo sapien?" and they'd say no, and this was supposedly funny, and it only stopped once everybody learned what the word meant.

    Plus, the same thing happened to give us the word pea, and there's nothing wrong with that "incorrect" word, is there? And on a more positive note, what's wrong with making words borrowed from other languages conform to English rules?
     

    swyves

    Senior Member
    UK English, Living in Peru
    I suppose it comes down to the question of whether we're using the scientific name, or borrowing it and making it into a separate English word. The evidence would seem to be that we are, if we define by usage.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    The entry shows how any idiot can post any nonsense to Wikipedia!

    ==========
    Etymology
    Back-formation from Homo sapiens taken to be a plural.

    Noun
    Homo sapien (plural Homo sapiens)
    (nonstandard) A member of the species Homo sapiens.

    Usage note
    This form is considered nonstandard, since the Latin root word sapiens in actually an adjective, and is the singular form. The scientifically and linguistically educated treat Homo sapien as an error in usage.
    ==========

    If this formation is so wrong, why glorify it with an entry in Wikipedia?
     

    swyves

    Senior Member
    UK English, Living in Peru
    As I understand it, anyone can glorify anything with an entry in wikipedia. Anyone can also deglorify them; a democratic system. But then, if I knew more about that, you probably wouldn't see me around here so much ;)
     

    virr2

    Senior Member
    Poland
    But this entry in Wiktionary reads:

    "This form is considered nonstandard, since the Latin root word sapiens in actually an adjective, and is the singular form. The scientifically and linguistically educated treat Homo sapien as an error in usage."
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    But this entry in Wiktionary reads:

    "This form is considered nonstandard, since the Latin root word sapiens in actually an adjective, and is the singular form. The scientifically and linguistically educated treat Homo sapien as an error in usage."
    "Nonstandard" is often politicallycorrectspeak for "wrong".
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    The entry shows how any idiot can post any nonsense to Wikipedia!

    ==========
    Etymology
    Back-formation from Homo sapiens taken to be a plural.

    Noun
    Homo sapien (plural Homo sapiens)
    (nonstandard) A member of the species Homo sapiens.
    The Latin plural of homo sapiens is Homines sapientes
     

    Montaigne

    Senior Member
    French, France
    Heard, not heard, never heard !!!!
    What's wrong with "reading"? Books, for instance. Then you could'nt miss the spelling.
    Shall someone start a new thread enquiring about "homo habili (habilee?), homo erectu (erectoo?)" ?
    And is Darwin only the name of a city in Australia?
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Montaigne said:
    Shall someone start a new thread enquiring about "homo habili (habilee?), homo erectu (erectoo?)" ?
    And is Darwin only the name of a city in Australia?
    He was going to explain all this, but he never got around to his Theory of Devolution. Considering the uproar and controversy, he may have been a little disheartened withal.
    .
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    He was going to explain all this, but he never got around to his Theory of Devolution. Considering the uproar and controversy, he may have been a little disheartened withal.
    .
    I know some people who are raising what they believe to be children, but whom the neighbours think of as right little monkeys — and ugly ones at that!
     
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