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The She-Cat
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A Linguistic Curiosity on the Term gatta (she-cat)

It is no coincidence that the feminine form gatta, 'she-cat', has always been used to refer to the image in the editorial logos. In ancient times, especially in Tuscany, the term gatta did not specify the gender of the animal but was used to refer to both male and female animals. In the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca published in 1612 only the term gatta is listed, also recurring 52 times in various entries and examples, whereas the term gatto 'male cat' recurs only 8 times, only in quoted texts and is never used by the vocabulists. Proof of the popularity of the term referring to the she-cat is the multitude of proverbs and adages that contain such a word, obviously without necessarily referring to the gender of the animal: "Meglio esser capo di gatta, che coda di Lione; Cadere in pič come la gatta; Vender gatta in sacco; Dove non son gatte i topi vi ballano; Andare alla gatta pel lardo; Tenere un'occhio alla padella, e uno alla gatta; Alla pentola, che bolle non vi s'accosta la gatta; Andare a vedere affogare, pescare, o ripescar la gatta (cfr. Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca, s.v. Gatta).

The She-Cat
Photogallery of the Editorial Logos (in Italian)

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