"We have a special grammar for personhood. We would never say of our late neighbor, "It is buried in Oakwood Cemetery." Such language would be deeply disrespectful and would rob him of his humanity. We use instead a special grammar for humans: we distinguish them with the use of he or she, a grammar of personhood for both living and dead Homo sapiens. Yet we say of the oriole warbling comfort to mourners from the treetops or the oak tree herself beneath whom we stand, "It lives in Oakwood Cemetery." In the English language, a human alone has distinction while all other living beings are lumped with the nonliving "its." As a botany professor, I am as interested in the pale-green lichens slowly dissolving the words on the gravestones as in the almost-forgotten names, and the students, too, look past the stones for inky cap mushrooms in the grass or a glimpse of an urban fox."
Robin Wall Kimmerer shares more on the grammar of animacy in this heart-mind provoking essay.

Speaking of Nature — by Robin Wall Kimmerer

http://www.dailygood.org/more.php?n=8312