Why the word, 'cat' sounds the same in so many seemingly unrelated language families
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Why the word, 'cat' sounds the same in so many seemingly unrelated language families

Sacramento : CA : USA | Sep 23, 2009 at 8:49 PM PDT
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The word for cat sounds the same regardless of the language family--Uralic, Indo European, Hamitic/Nubian, Semitic, Basque, Chinese....they all call it a cat or a puss. How did you pick your cat's name--or your dog's name?

Here's the history of cat names. Look at the origin in ancient times for the word 'cat.' We often call a cat 'puss' as in the children's story titled Puss 'N Boots. The word 'puss' used for 'cat' comes from the ancient Egyptian word 'pasht,' meaning cat.

It was pronounced in Egypt, Persia, and all over the ancient Middle East as "Pishk" east of the Nile and "Pasht" west of the Nile. And today the word survives as Pishik in Yiddish and modern Persian (Farsi). It comes from a proto language that once included Indo-European and also Afro-Asiatic (Hamitic/Semitic). We often call a cat 'puss'or pussy cat.

Guess how old that word for cat or cat's names is? Pasht, for cat, later evolved to Bast and then to Bastet, another cat-headed goddess in Egypt. In ancient Iraq and Persia (Iran) the word for cat was Pishik. In Arabic cat is kitt and khatte.

See how the word for cat, held in high esteem and worshipped in the ancient middle east, is pronounced the same--either cat or pus (pishk) in Indo European, Semitic languages, Hamitic, Basque, and other languages points to a proto-language spoken 10,000 years ago in which everybody had the same word for 'cat.' Chai is the Chinese word for 'cat'.

So the word for cat could be used in languages that existed before Indo-European or Hamitic-Semitic language groups were around. Even the non-Indo European Basque word 'catua' for cat or the Hamitic Nubian word for cat, 'katiska' seems to put emphasis on the sound of 'cat.'

Here's the word for cat in other languages: The words seem to resemble the ancient Egyptian/Persian "Pasht/Bast/Pishk" or the ancient Arabian Khatte, the Nubian Kat-is-ka, or even the Chinese Chai. Why does the word for cat seem the same in so many language families other than Indo-European languages that are known to be related to proto-Indo European spoken 8,700 years ago? And why is the Arabic Khatte and the Armenian Kitte sound almost the same?

Was there once only one language spoken all over the known world? Was the word for lion also be the same world-wide at one time? How about the word for number one, represented by a finger, called a digit?

That word seems to be the same or very similar world-wide, regardless of language families. It's probably one of the most ancient words for number one, represented by holding up one finger. Does the word that sounds like digit exist all over the world? Let's for now just look at the word, cat.

Persian: Pushak (Pishik); Old Yiddish: Pishika (teenage female cat): Pisha (teenage male cat); Afghan: Pishak; Kurdish: Pishig; Lithuanian:Puize; Irish: Pus (Puss); Sanskrit: Puccha, Pukha, Puccha; Arabic: Kitt, Khatte; Armenian: Kitta, Ketah; Basque: Catua; Catalonian: Gat; Spanish: Gato; Portuguese: Gato; Italian: Gatto; Cornish: Kath; Welsh: Cath, Kath; Syriac: Kato, Katto; Turkish: Kati; Swedish and Norwegian: Katt; German: Katze; Old Yiddish: surname -- Katz (Cohen-Tzaddik); Dutch: Kat; French: Chat; Burgundian: Chai; Picardian: Ca, Cahe; Polish: Kot; Russian: Kots; Chinese: Chai (Note same or very similar pronunciation in all these languages for a cat, but the language families are sometimes unrelated. Could this mean a common ancestral language that existed before there were different language families such as Hamitic, Chinese, Turkic, Semitic, Indo-European, or Basque? In Africa, where cats originated, you have the Nubian Nubian: Katiska, Kadiska for cat. In ancient Egypt a cat was called a pasht, also Bast, later the cat goddess, Bastet.

Are there also universal words for dog, wolf, tiger, bear, or lion? What about for 'pets' in general? How come there are different words for dog in different languages, many more than words for cat around the world? A wolf sounds like "woof" for dog. But a lupo is a different word than a wolf or volk.

I put up my Howling Wolf Blog for writers--a creativity enhancement and personality preference assessment on my blog.

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Problem-Solving & Cat Tales for the Holidays
Problem-Solving & Cat Tales for the HolidaysTime travel novel, paperback, by Anne HartPhoto credits: Anne Hart
AnneHart is based in Sacramento, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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