Friday, December 7, 2012

Creatue* (for Creature*)

I blogged about beasts the other day; today I'll speak of creatures. Which are pretty much the same thing, actually, though beast would seem to have more of a more negative connotation and be not so all-encompassing. "Beasts" are generally thought to be four-footed vertebrates, but apparently in some cases can be any "animal." All God's creatures—the very word itself evokes creation, as well as a certain gracious inclusivity. All creatures great and small—to quote the homely hymn by Cecil Alexander (who was, in spite of her name, a woman) and the popular TV program and books by James Herriot—makes the point even more clearly. And yet it seems that "creatures" are often contradictory. The first Google-supplied definition that pops up for them is oddly paradoxical: "1) an animal, as distinct from a human being; 2) an animal or person." In fact, creatures of the mythological sort are very often half-human, half-animal. Another set of definitions has it both ways as well, with this all-purpose label for "a human being; person: used as a term of scorn, pity, or endearment." I scornfully pity the poor, dear creature who would try and pin this sort of thing down. The word seems to mean pretty much whatever you want it to mean. Today's typo is a "low probability" one on the Ballard list, having been created in OhioLINK seven times (like the number of days it took God to make the world, according to creationists) and 70 times in WorldCat.

(Screen shot from Flaming Creatures by Jack Smith, 1963, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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