Earthling

Earthlings are inhabitants of the planet Earth. They are also known as Terrans or Gaians. As no extraterrestrial life has been discovered, all known forms of life in the Universe are earthlings.

History

Historically, the term earthling referred to a mortal inhabitant of the Earth as opposed to spiritual or divine entities. In Early Modern English, the word was used with the intention of contrasting "earth" with "heaven", and so presenting man as an inhabitant of the sublunary sphere, as opposed to heavenly creatures or deities.[1] The derivation from the noun earth by means of the suffix -ling is already seen in Old English yrþling, in the meaning "ploughman". The sense of "inhabitant of earth" is first attested in the 1590s.[2] Its use in science fiction dates to 1949, in Red Planet by Robert A. Heinlein.

The word human has the same imposed meaning, since it originates from a Proto-Indo-European word *ǵʰmṓ "earthling" < *dʰéǵʰōm "earth". Compare Latin homo "human" and humus "earth, soil".

Modern use

Its modern use in science fiction literature contrasts Earth (the planet) with outer space or hypothetical other planets with sapient life. The term was often used in 1950s science fiction film and novels by aliens to express a disdainful or patronizing tone towards creatures from Earth. The meaning "creature from planet Earth" in the context of space travel may be extended to non-human species, as in "Russia fetes dog Laika, first earthling in space".[3]

The literary effect aimed for is a distancing effect, inviting the readers to contemplate their own species as it might be seen from an external point of view. There is also a belittling effect, in parallel with the use of the -ling suffix in such diminutives as duckling and gosling. Especially in 1950s science fiction, use of the term is a conscious reversal of common assumptions of anthropocentrism or human exceptionalism, and may be an example of an exonym.

In some science fiction media (such as the Star Trek franchise and the 2014 movie Guardians of the Galaxy) the term Terran is used as a term for humans, stemming from terra, the Latin word for Earth. In the original run of the BBC series Doctor Who, the phrase tellurian is used.

See also

References

  1. ^ Thomas Nashe, Christ's Tears (1593, 1613), p. 124: "Wee (of all earthlings) are Gods vtmost subiects.";
    Drummond of Hawthornden, Poems (1711), p. 31 (written ca. 1630): "Nature gaz'd on with such a curious eye, That earthlings oft her deem'd a deity."
    Cited after Oxford English Dictionary.
  2. ^ Harper, Douglas. "earthling". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  3. ^ Solovyov, Dmitry; Pearce, Tim (ed.) (11 April 2008). "Russia fetes dog Laika, first earthling in space". Reuters.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
Baby Universal

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Bowie re-recorded this track in 1996 for his 1997 album Earthling, but the track was not released on the album.

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"Corpus Earthling" is an episode of the original The Outer Limits television show. It first aired on 18 November 1963, during the first season.

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"Earthling" is the sixth episode of the American science fiction drama television series Fringe's second season. The episode followed the Fringe team's investigation into random people mysteriously disintegrating into ash, a case which Agent Broyles had become deeply obsessed with in the past.

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Earthling (disambiguation)

An Earthling is an inhabitant of the planet Earth.

Earthling or Earthlings may also refer to:

Earthling (album), a 1997 album by David Bowie

Earthlings (album), a 2008 album by Chrome Hill

Earthling (band), a band from Bristol, England

Earthlings?, a band from Joshua Tree, California

The Earthlings, a band based in Chichester, England

Earthlings (film), a 2005 animal rights documentary

Earthling (film), a 2010 film

Earthlings, original code-name for The L Word television series

"Earthling" (Fringe), a 2009 episode of the television series Fringe

The Earthling, a 1980 drama film starring William Holden and Rick Schroder

Earthling Publications, an American small press

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Earthling Publications

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In 2003, Earthling won the Horror Writers Association Specialty Press Award.

Earthling Tour

The David Bowie Earthling Tour opened on 7 June 1997 at Flughafen Blankensee in Lübeck, Germany continuing through Europe, North America before reaching a conclusion in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 7 November 1997.

Earthling in the City

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"I'm Afraid of Americans" is a single by David Bowie from the 1997 album Earthling. The song, co-written by Bowie and Brian Eno, was originally written during Bowie's studio sessions for the 1995 album Outside but was not released until a rough mix appeared on the soundtrack to the film Showgirls, and was subsequently remade for Earthling. A top 20 hit in Canada, the rework also peaked at number 66 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent 16 weeks on that chart. This was the final Bowie single which charted on the Hot 100 until "Blackstar" and "Lazarus" following his death.

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The album is made up of recordings from the 1997 Earthling tour, featuring songs from the albums Earthling (1997) and 1. Outside (1995).

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