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Lector Language Person Is Amused

I read this article off of CNN's website, and found myself snerking happily in my chair. Not so much for the description of hot gorilla luv, but for a slightly different reason:

That might be unlikely — male gorillas, after all, are happily polyandrous, mating with multiple females in their group.

Um. Scientists? That word? "Polyandrous?" It does not mean what you think it means . . .

Feb. 19. This Just In: The editors have realized their mistake and issued an oops statement amending it to the correct word, "polygynous." Thank you, ssotknapsack!

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
elliska
Feb. 14th, 2008 11:33 pm (UTC)
Well, if the male gorillas are polyandrous and there are not many new gorillas, that might explain something. But I doubt that was what they were trying to say. This is why we teach in English 101 to not try to use fancy words we don't really understand...

Hilarious, FP!
frenchpony
Feb. 14th, 2008 11:43 pm (UTC)
Not that polyandrous male gorillas wouldn't be interesting to read about, but, um, yeah. One would think that scientists would have learned precision of language. One would be wrong.
jelazakazone
Feb. 15th, 2008 12:00 am (UTC)
Bwaa haa. And your icon is perfect. I hadn't even realized what it said until just now:)
frenchpony
Feb. 15th, 2008 12:06 am (UTC)
It's not an icon I use often. But, sometimes, the right occasion presents itself. Like now.
heartofoshun
Feb. 15th, 2008 12:17 am (UTC)
I almost missed this. Are we talking about gorilla slash here?
frenchpony
Feb. 15th, 2008 12:21 am (UTC)
Alas, no. We're talking about scientists who cannot tell the linguistic difference between polygamous (having many mates), polygynous (mating with many females), and polyandrous (mating with many males).

So much for all that expensive edjumacation.
arwensommer
Feb. 15th, 2008 12:42 am (UTC)
*is a very amused Leany now*

(though I did have to look up the word in the dictionary...)
frenchpony
Feb. 15th, 2008 03:50 am (UTC)
Yes, well, you have an excuse. English isn't your first language (I think). And anyway, you took the time to look it up. Clearly, the scientists didn't.
dawtheminstrel
Feb. 15th, 2008 12:53 am (UTC)
LOL. Well how do you know? Maybe it's hawt gorilla slash.
frenchpony
Feb. 15th, 2008 03:51 am (UTC)
Hawt gorilla slash between a male and many females would be quite the trick indeed.

Maybe it's gorilla femmeslash, but it still wouldn't be polyandrous.
kaikias
Feb. 15th, 2008 07:02 am (UTC)
Man. People sometimes.
frenchpony
Feb. 15th, 2008 01:41 pm (UTC)
Details. They are important.
kaikias
Feb. 15th, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
Yes. Yes, they are.
canyon_lady
Feb. 16th, 2008 01:17 am (UTC)
Hah! Somebody mixed up their terms...
frenchpony
Feb. 16th, 2008 02:24 pm (UTC)
I'm actually kind of surprised that the Time editors didn't pick up on that one. If it was the scientists who said it, the writer should have corrected it in a non-quote paraphrase. If it was the article's author who misused the word, that's just bad journalism.
ssotknapsack
Feb. 19th, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
They've made a correction to the article now and added this:

"Correction appended: Feb. 15, 2008

"The original version of this story erroneously stated that male gorillas are polyandrous, or that they have more than one male mate. Rather, male gorillas have several female mates, making them polygynous."

Editors spoil all our fun. :O)
frenchpony
Feb. 19th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
Ah, well. At least we got to point and laugh for a little while.

I still might be able to bring this up to my students at seminar today. Let them know that it's better to look up the right word in the first place than to have to print a humiliating correction.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )