This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The female of the species: a rant

I don't often rant about things I read in newspapers. Journalists are often writing under pressure and, well, we're all human, aren't we, and I'm far from being in a position to cast the first stone about grammatical and spelling errors.

On the other hand, sometimes something so truly horrible appears, something nestling so snugly - and probably smugly - within a determined wooliness of the brain, that howls of incredulous anguish burst from my soul.

This is from the online version of the Daily Telegraph of 7/10/14*:

The problem is that both phones seem to be designed without the female specie in mind.

Oh good grief.

Look, species isn't a plural...well, at least, it is a plural, but when it's a singular it looks exactly the same.

Specie is something entirely different from species (it means coin money as opposed to paper money or bullion. The almost-Latin phrase in specie means in coin, in kind, or, as a law term, in the actual form specified, which usually means not in coin).

Apart from that, a species is (pretty much) one of the taxonomic groups into which a genus is divided. Most species don't go in for male and female at all - and some members of some species change sex as they go along - but however a species produces new members, whether using male, female, transgender, bisexual, cloning, budding, or whichever resources, the species consists of all of them.

Female isn't a specie, or a species, but a sex. Got it?

And don't start me on the word gender, whatever you do.

Word To Use Correctly Today: specie/species. In specie and specie both come from the Latin phrase in speciē, which means in kind. Species is the Latin for appearance, and comes from specere, to look.

*English date: ie seventh of October.

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