[Ads-l] calico (cat)

Dave Hause dwhause at CABLEMO.NET
Mon Nov 19 00:50:26 EST 2018


My understanding of calicos is that they are either three- or four-colored 
and female because coat color is carried on the X chromosome, but only two 
colors per chromosome.
Dave Hause

-----Original Message----- 
From: Barretts Mail
Sent: Sunday, November 18, 2018 3:23 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: calico (cat)

> On 18 Nov 2018, at 12:30, Chris Waigl <chris at LASCRIBE.NET> wrote:
> Calico in other animals can have a looser meaning of
> "blotched"/multi-colored or whatever. But a simple two-color tabby cat or
> red-and-white or black-and-white is not a calico cat.

According to the OLD, a two-color cat is a calico, especially if the two 
colors are black and white, and possibly a simple two-color cat is a calico, 
too. According to Wiktionary, that probably doesn’t work, and MW says that 
three colors is the typical meaning.

According to MW, blotching or spotting is a requirement of caliconess, but 
according to the OLD and Wiktionary, it is not.

According to Wiktionary, red is a requirement of caliconess, but the OLD 
does not have that requirement while MW says that red and black patches on a 
white coat is the archetype.

That’s what I meant by "taking the dictionary definitions together.”

As for Google Images, I find it difficult to come up with a unifying 
meaning. I suspect that citation 4 is correct (in that there are various 
sorts of caliconess) and that because of the variety, people understand the 
term “calico” in various ways, causing confusion. BB

>
> I don't think this is a proper thing to do. IMHO, it's a pretty usual
> situation that an adjective (or noun) is used to apply to animals (or 
> furry
> animals) in general in a less specific way than to a particular species, 
> or
> a particular subgroup. (Eg. I thought I knew what color horses there are
> when I grew up in Germany. Then I came to the US... holy crap!) In cats,
> it's not really too contradictory. Def. 2 and 4 are basically the same -
> ie, they would designate the same animals as calico. Do a Google image
> search. I use it for a tortoiseshell cat (ie, tri-colored due to the
> genetic situation described in 4) that has large areas of white. (While
> "tortoiseshell" in the more narrow sense would be one that has only white
> markings. But that's maybe because my cat back in the day was of this
> coloring.) Tortoiseshell / calico cats are always female, except if they
> are XXY males. In 4, my guess is the definition is written for the purpose
> of classification of purebred cats by breed clubs: they usually have
> subdivisions that the common cat owner or general public doesn't make.
>
> Calico in other animals can have a looser meaning of
> "blotched"/multi-colored or whatever. But a simple two-color tabby cat or
> red-and-white or black-and-white is not a calico cat.
>
> Chris
>
> On Sun, Nov 18, 2018 at 10:20 AM Barretts Mail <mail.barretts at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
>> I’ve never understood what a calico cat is, so I looked it up (as I’ve
>> done before):
>>
>> 1. English OLD (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/calico <
>> https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/calico>)
>> North American
>>        • (of an animal, typically a cat) multicoloured or piebald.
>>
>> https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/piebald <
>> https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/piebald>
>> (of a horse) having irregular patches of two colours, typically black and
>> white.
>>
>> Since most cats are at least bicolored, this includes nearly all of them.
>>
>> 2. Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/calico <
>> https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/calico>)
>> Having a pattern of red and contrasting areas, resembling the color of
>> calico cloth.
>> Synonym: tortoiseshell
>>
>> 3. Merriam-Webster (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/calico <
>> https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/calico>)
>> a blotched or spotted animal especially : one that is predominantly white
>> with red and black patches
>>
>> “Blotched” seems like a particularly useful qualification.
>>
>> 4. According to “All About Calico Cats” (
>> https://www.wwwallaboutcats.com/calico-cats <
>> https://www.wwwallaboutcats.com/calico-cats>), calicoism is the result of
>> partial deactivation of the X chromosome, and there are three “well 
>>  known”
>> types: dilute, tortoiseshell and patched tabby.
>>
>> I remain uncertain of how this word is used. When taken together, the
>> three dictionary meanings do not seem instructive, particularly when
>> citation 4 is taken into account.
>>
>> I suspect that there is a colloquial term just meaning “multicolored with
>> some blotches” and a prescribed scientific term as per the calico 
>> article.
>>
>> Also of relevance, an ADS email from Victor Steinbok (
>> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2012-January.txt <
>> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2012-January.txt>), in
>> which he notes that calico is probably not common for horses.

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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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