Sun 13 May, 2018 11:23 pm
I came across this paragraph in an IELTS book. I was wondering what the meaning of the sentence "ants are so much ... embarrassment" is.
Ants store food, repel attackers and use chemical signals to contact one another in case of attack. Such chemical communication can be compared to the human use of visual and auditory channels (as in religious chants, advertising images and jingles, political slogans and martial music) to arouse and propagate moods and attitudes. The biologist Lewis Thomas wrote, Ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment. They farm fungi, raise aphids* as livestock, launch armies to war, use chemical sprays to alarm and confuse enemies, capture slaves, engage in child labour, exchange information ceaselessly. They do everything but watch television.'
The biologist Lewis Thomas wrote, Ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment.
"so much.....as to be" is a linguistic device to list certain things to convince the listener that the evidence supports the idea that the normal way of viewing something underestimates its significance.
In this case we think of human behavior as being far, far more advanced in every way than the behavior of ants, but this sentence makes the case that the evidence shows it is not.
Another example: "Harry's proclivities for coming late, barefoot, and reeking of bourbon are not so much personal lifestyle choices as they are conclusive proof that we need to raise the pay here to get more capable job applicants."