View Poll Results: Alien RACES or SPECIES?

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  • Species

    6 28.57%
  • Race

    3 14.29%
  • both (cos it varies... plz explain)

    11 52.38%
  • Neither (again, pl explain

    1 4.76%
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Thread: species or race?

  1. #1
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    species or race?

    Just starting planning out My Great SF Novel. It's gonna have lotsa different aliens in it, and I'm looking for an inoffensive way to write about them. Are the Blurghs a violent alien species or race? Are the Martians an elusive race or species?

    I don't want to be offensive. I do want to be as scientific accurate (What?! In a SF novel you wanna be accurate? Don't quit the day job, muppet!). So: species or race?
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  2. #2
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    Re: species or race?

    Have both.

    Make a species, and then sub sections of various races.
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  3. #3
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    Re: species or race?

    I reckon both. There's a certain amount of overlap between the meaning of the words. I'd suggest that "race" be used mainly in a casual discussion, and "species" when you want to be a bit more analytical.
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  4. #4
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    Re: species or race?

    well...
    i think you need both, to satisfy Carolus Linnaeus' binominal nomenclature and
    convention. i guese maybe that's the reason..

  5. #5
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    Re: species or race?

    F.G., biological nomenclature uses genus, then species (and then subspecies if applicable.) "Race" is a cultural rather than a biological concept - there are no human subspecies, and if there were, they wouldn't line up with the existing racial categories we have, largely because most of the genetic variation within Homo sapiens actually happens within what we refer to as the African race (all the other races are a small subset of that variation.)

    An alien life form won't even be in the same domain of life (prokaryotae, that is, life on earth that is not not bacteria or archea) as we are. With enough knowledge of the alien ecosystem and assuming that its descent followed a similar pattern to life on Earth (particularly speciation,) then yeah, you could create a phylogenitic tree and give an alien life form a genus and species. But we often say "the human race" to mean the human species as a whole, and there would be nothing wrong with doing the same for some extraterrestrial sophont.
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  6. #6
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    Re: species or race?

    Use both. It appears to me that 'race' applies if the foreigners are nasty, but predictable, whereas 'species' indicates something that wants to rip your head off and crap down your throat.

  7. #7
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    Re: species or race?

    Reading those last two replies in order was funny.

    Anyway, I'd say species is the more accurate term, but you could really use either. I don't think either term would be considered offensive.

  8. #8
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    Re: species or race?

    Thanks for the detailed and interesting response CopperBezel, i stand corrected and more informed about these things.

    So, i guess we're talking about aliens? (i suppose i should have read the question). I've got to say, that i do concur with PJsRonin's account of this terminology usage, in my experience with alien life-forms, it always seems to be that way around.
    However we have not even mentioned flora or fauna in this context. Would fauna encapsulate both race and species? is that how it works? and more importantly, how would one refer to a Babel fish? i'm not sure if species or race are the appropriate terms.

    edit: so, CopperBezel, should we take it that you are of the opinion that neither is technically correct, but both can be can be considered correct in colloquially usage?
    Last edited by F.G.; May 12th, 2013 at 12:33 PM.

  9. #9
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    Re: species or race?

    For scientific accuracy use genus and species - race in NOT a scientific term
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  10. #10
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    Re: species or race?

    Quote Originally Posted by F.G. View Post
    However we have not even mentioned flora or fauna in this context. Would fauna encapsulate both race and species?
    Yes, fauna is an imprecise term, but generally meant to include all animal life in an environment, while flora includes all plant life. The division of all life into two kingdoms is an old obsolete concept, we recognise far more than that now, but the term still has some use in describing the complex life within an particular area.

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