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Opinion: Negative Words Used for Effect Can Convey the Wrong Message

photo of crocodile

Arg! Infested? Really?!

One of my pet peeves, or maybe, as a person who loves her reptiles, I should say companion-animal peeves, is when animals in their natural environment are called an infestation just because they are predators and not cute, cuddly creatures.

The article that set me off this time is about a humpback whale that swam up an Australian river and got stuck. The native predators in this river include crocodiles.

Humpback Whale Swims Free

photo of humpback whale
Image courtesy of Skeeze from Pixabay

Fortunately for the whale, it was able to swim out of the river during a high tide. However, it still bothers me that the crocodiles were referred to as an infestation in their own river! (Where else can they go?)

An “infestation” is defined as being invaded or overrun by pests or parasites. However, “infested” can be interpreted as living in or being overrun in a troublesome manner, which is how writers justify saying that the river was “infested” by crocodiles. Yet, the whale wasn’t attacked, so they can’t really say the river was overrun by crocs.

It would have been more accurate to say that the river is “croc-inhabited.” This acknowledges the right of the crocodiles to exist in their native habitat and that their presence is not unusual.

Thank you for allowing me to express my opinion on proper word usage. Words are very powerful, personally and professionally. They should be used to convey the truth and not send the wrong message.

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