A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to author Roby Sweet. Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Why Are Cats Called Cats?



Cat. Such a simple word, just three letters, one syllable, but conveying so much magnificence. Really, one might expect that we cats would be known by a more regal word. But cat is what you English-speaking humans have stuck us with, and so I, Miss Cuddlywumps, am making the most of it.

I have been making the most of it by sending She of Little Talent to this thing called Internet to explore the origins of cat and report back to me. For once, she has not disappointed. True, she is cooking up an unnecessarily complex answer to my very simple question, but that is how she is: complex and often unnecessary.

To begin with, versions of cat are everywhere in Europe: Italian gatto, Spanish gato, Portuguese gato, French chat, Slovene, Russian, and Polish kot, Finnish katti. All this similarity, but the Oxford English Dictionary says it does not know the word’s origin. So I am left to draw my own conclusions, and here they are:

There is the excellent Latin word catta (from the first century AD). See also the equally excellent Byzantine Greek word katta (from the fourth century AD). That is good enough for me. Cat is from Latin and Greek. We are classical creatures.

Oh yes, She of Little Talent is still in the corner prattling on about uncertainty, ancient Egyptian, and something called Afro-Asiatic, but I shall ignore her. I am classical from the tips of my ears to the end of my white-tipped tail.

Note: Roby Sweet (a.k.a. She of Little Talent) feels compelled to add that the OnlineEtymology Dictionary says the origins of cat are “probably ultimately Afro-Asiatic.”

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