There is something about the word HUMANS that seems to carry more weight than any of its synonyms. The word PEOPLE, for example, seems a bit gentler. HUMANS? It is sharp and clinical. Most of the time when I hear someone use it, they’ve chosen it to emphasize what the word is NOT. For example, if you say “a human child,” it is sort of natural to think about the distinction the word human is implying. A human is not an alien, an amphibian, or a potato. And if the word is being used to qualify that characteristic, there is usually a reason. For example, there may have been doubt that the child being discussed was actually human.
Phoebe uses the word HUMAN a lot. I know exactly when I noticed it.
“You are the worst human EVER!”
She’d told me this. It seemed so severe – much worse than being the worst mother, the worst person, or even a simple and open-ended “the worst.” I was the worst HUMAN. Ever.
I took it less personally when I began to realize this was simply her term for folks.
“There are a lot of humans at this playground, Mom.”
“I like all the humans in my dance class!”
“Is this for humans?”
Ironically, the more she uses the term HUMAN, the less she appears to be so. She’s like a little Spock or Starman commenting on how us humans do life. And I enjoy it greatly.