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Journal of nicholas (3034)

Friday April 18, 2008
02:21 PM

Dear linguistic lazyweb...

[ #36195 ]

So there was this social, and we worked out that killing a cat would be felicide, but what we didn't work out was whether there is a precise word for killing a kitten (or at least something that makes it clear that it's a small cat).

Crazy, er curious minds want to know. Mostly so that they can write rules interdicting it.

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  • microfelicide?
  • pedofelicide?
  • "feliculacide"
    • "feliculacide"
      That's what I suggested on the evening, but I've just come home and checked my Cassell's, and it suggests "catulus" for kitten; that would render 'catulucide', which I think has better prosody. I'm going to check the huge reference tomes in the Bodleian tomorrow, though, because it surprises me that "catulus" would be real.
      • My understanding is that catulus was quite generic, meaning "any cute baby animal" and was, in fact, predominantly used in referring to puppies. There are several instances where ancient writers, specifically referring to a kitten, feel it necessary to clarify that point by writing catulus felis. Whereas only rarely do they seem to bother with catulus canis, as far as I can discover (and even then, it seems, mainly for poetic reasons).

        Indeed, Isidorus Hispalensis in his medieval encyclopaedia, "Etymologia

        • Interesting about the Etymologiae. I actually discussed the puppy/generic animal issue to some extent in my one and only journal post [] to date. The Etymologiae may have been referenced in the Thesaurus, but (O irony) my Latin is sufficiently rusty that I was having trouble reading the full entry.

          It is certainly true that "catulus" especially referred to puppies in the classical period (c.f. Lewis & Short), but I would argue that Isidore's pedantry shows us that the meaning of the word *was* shiftin

  • cantdecide