body = 'a human being as capable of feeling physical pain'

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Aug 14 20:09:37 UTC 2014

On Aug 14, 2014, at 3:03 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:

> Several times in the past few days I've heard comments about the shooting
> in Missouri to the effect that "Police need to respect the black male
> body," and "Black bodies are important."
> My SWAG is that it ultimately goes back to Elaine Scarry's intellectually
> influential _The Body in Pain_ (1985).
> It doesn't just mean "person."
> JL
Or, fortunately, 'corpse', as an illustration of what the OED considers a possible euphemistic truncation of "dead body" (sense 2, cites back to 1225).  I've wondered whether "There are 5 bodies in the room" really has a distinct reading on which it entails that all of them are dead ones or just strongly suggests it.  ("Wait--that body is moving" doesn't seem like a contradiction, so perhaps it's still just an invited pragmatic inference, from the non-use of "5 people in the room", that the bodies in question are indeed dead ones/corpses. Maybe "victims" works the same way in this context.)  Of course this only applies to *being* a body and not to *having* one, as in Jon's examples above.


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