Homo ludens for dummies

When I set up my web pages under the title of homo ludens, I never expected people to misunderstand this! But a few e-mails received lately have shown that some people, specially in English speaking countries, actually don't get the proper meaning! So, here is the explanation:

Scientists all over the world usually designate plant and animal species with names in the Latin language. This custom comes from the times when modern science started; during that time Latin was still the most accepted universal language, much like English is today.

In Latin, homo means "human". Used alone, homo designates the earliest species of animals that could be considered true humans. Adding another word defines the subspecies: Homo erectus, for example, is the "upright-walking human".  Often a word is added that defines where remains of ancient humans have been found; for example, homo neandertalensis refers to the people who lived in Europe around the last ice age, and whose remains have been found in the Neandertal (Neander Valley) in Germany.

All those humans whom scientists consider to have been able to think intelligently are called homo sapiens, which literally means "knowing human", or perhaps "wise human". It's even possible to add a third word to the string to further refine the designation. In that way, the modern human, you and I, are scientifically considered to be homo sapiens sapiens. Wow! We know doubly! :-)

Like sapiens means "knowing", ludens  means "playing". That's why I call myself a homo ludens, the "playing human". In my humble opinion, playing is a basic necessity for a fulfilled life, and I act accordingly. I have designated the sections for each of my hobbies with made-up species names, some of which are in correct Latin (to the best of my knowledge!), while others are obviously not. Andinensis, for example, is a place reference, referring to the Andes mountains. Homo ludens andinensis is the playing human who is to be found there in the Andes, climbing mountains. Aeromodellisticus instead is made up, but should be easy enough to understand, just like radiohistoricus and some others...

This explanation should really have been unnecessary, but the e-mails mentioned above have proven that homo not-so-sapiens does exist too!

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