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Foxes, Hounds, and Horses: Who or Which?

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Writers of English can choose whether to mark a high level of sentience in a nonhuman animal by selecting the word who rather than which. An examination of texts relating to foxhunting on the world wide web showed that, in reference to the nonhuman animals involved in foxhunting, writers were most likely to use who in reference to foxes, and least likely to use it in reference to horses. Those who support foxhunting are more likely to recognize the sentience of the fox than those who oppose foxhunting. This may be because those who enjoy foxhunting present the fox as an active creator of the hunt, and as a worthy opponent.

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