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SampleGuy
10-21-2014, 12:05 AM
What are other words can I use besides using the word humanity? It sounds weird when anthropomorphic characters say they have humanity when they are not humans. This also prefers to aliens and robots. Plus why would a human character say an alien race has humanity when the aliens are not humans? Even if a sentient race have human traits, saying they have humanity sounds wrong. It's like writers are making them human in non human suits.

NinjaFingers
10-21-2014, 12:21 AM
I actually got around this in my book by inventing a word that translates, rather poorly, to "possession of true wisdom." Humans would say "has a soul," but it's not quite the same thing. So, that's one way of doing it.

Hoplite
10-21-2014, 12:27 AM
What are other words can I use besides using the word humanity? It sounds weird when anthropomorphic characters say they have humanity when they are not humans. This also prefers to aliens and robots.

I could see aliens/robots discussing human language, and noting the irony that humans ascribe being kind, honest, empathetic, etc. to having 'humanity'. But robots/aliens could just as well say 'benevolent', 'kind', 'compassionate', etc. since this is (at least one) definition of humanity (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/humanity?s=t).


Plus why would a human character say an alien race has humanity when the aliens are not humans? Even if a sentient race have human traits, saying they have humanity sounds wrong. It's like writers are making them human in non human suits.It does sound wrong, but understandable, and in common dialogue I wouldn't be surprised to hear an alien being described as "having humanity". I would know what the person has meant even though it's not in reference to human.

A human could describe alien(s) has "having decency/empathy/compassion" in place of saying "humanity" if that works better.

Roxxsmom
10-21-2014, 12:39 AM
Sentience? Sapience? Empathy?

Brightdreamer
10-21-2014, 12:56 AM
IIRC, there was a line in Star Trek VI, during the disastrous diplomatic dinner, where a Klingon looks in disgust at the Enterprise crew and says something along the lines of: "If only you could hear yourselves talk - inalienable human rights." I always had that problem with the Federation, myself, the way humans and human thinking tended to dominate whole species of aliens, because we were somehow the paragon of what a sentient race should be or could become.

Punching "humanity" into Thesaurus.com came up with possible related words such as "society" (for "humanity" referring to a collective of people), "benevolence," charity," "clemency" (for qualities like kindness, compassion, and forgiveness), or "mortality" and "physicality" (for the concept of flesh or humankind.)

John Ayliff
10-21-2014, 02:52 AM
There are many possible options, so the thing to think about is what you really mean by "humanity" -- or, if it's going to be used in dialogue, what the character who's saying it means.

Imagine this exchange:

Space hero: I admire your humanity, alien friend!
Bug-eyed monster: I am not human, so I find that offensive.
Space hero: No, what I meant was, ____!

Whatever you can fit in to in to ____ is the word you want.

johnsolomon
10-21-2014, 03:23 AM
Yeah, I'd agree with the others -- your best bet is probably empathy or compassion. I'm not sure there's a word for humanity that works the way you want it to.

The problem with other words that refer to life is that they're not as loaded as humanity. If there's some kind of national ethos in your world then you could always have your character lean on that, like one American being shocked that another American is doing something that's against the zeitgeist.

PS: 'MURICA

SampleGuy
10-21-2014, 05:07 AM
Those words sound good.

Teinz
10-21-2014, 03:01 PM
How about ethics?

Twick
10-21-2014, 03:51 PM
Compassion or decency might fit in some cases.

Reziac
10-22-2014, 01:45 AM
I mutter to myself similarly about the word "soul" meaning essentially the mental essence of a person... it's not really right for my nonhumans (who don't have that sort of religious belief) but I haven't found a better term yet. :/

SampleGuy
10-23-2014, 12:27 AM
It is also strange for furry characters in a furry world to call themselves as humans. It's like racism to animals, unless they think they are humans.

Debbie V
10-28-2014, 02:48 AM
I might use essence instead of soul if that works.

Reziac
10-28-2014, 03:32 AM
I might use essence instead of soul if that works.

Not quite right either. It's more than just the mind, tho -- it's got, or is at least related to a physical component. I may wind up making up a word!

Jacob_Wallace
10-28-2014, 05:56 AM
In a setting with elves, perhaps one could use a word with elf in it. After all, they encompass compassion and empathy more than humans do. Or at least, they like to think so.

Unlike dwarves, who are greedy and damn proud of it.

Thomas Vail
10-28-2014, 07:21 AM
It's a conundrum that I've thumped around from time to time to try and find a satisfactory response for. A phrase considered using in relation to an older species paying a compliment to the wild, youngling race of humans had the alien laughing and saying that the term that first came to mind would sound rather speciest*, so instead said that for a human, they showed a remarkably awakened heart.

It seemed to serve the purpose quite well.

*and oddly enough, the term being defined that singular, species-focused way was independently common to every sapient race, much like Swedish meatballs.

JimmyB27
10-28-2014, 08:38 PM
Reminds me of that bit in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy:


"Oh ... and er ... interesting rhythmic devices too," continued Arthur, "which seemed to counterpoint the ... er ... er ..." He floundered.
Ford leaped to his rescue, hazarding "counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor of the ... er ..." He floundered too, but Arthur was ready again.
"... humanity of the ..."
"Vogonity," Ford hissed at him.
"Ah yes, Vogonity (sorry) of the poet's compassionate soul,":nothing

SampleGuy
10-29-2014, 09:44 PM
It is also an insult if you call an alien or a robot a man. Unless one of them are called Plant men or Metal men.

K.S. Crooks
11-08-2014, 09:39 PM
I might use "soul", "altruistic" or "benevolent". You could even say "Living rights" or "Sentient species rights" instead of "human rights".

Once!
11-08-2014, 10:29 PM
How do we talk about the behaviour of animals other than humans? Empathy, caring, decency, community-spirited, giving.

Humanity is such a vague and all-encompassing term that it actually seems liberating to be able to be more specific.