Definitions starting with C

ID #3897

Cat Island


[see 1888 quot. for etym.] n. a major island of the Bahamas, formerly called San Salva­dor: 1786 Columbus. . . landed in Cat-island, which was then called Guanahani; but was called by Columbus, St. Salvador, and owes its present name to the English inhabitants (Penning & Collyer 58). 1975 The Bahamas Parochial Act of 1802 referred to Cat Island as "the island of San Salvador commonly called Cat Island" (Hunte 157). 1888 Though there are plenty of wild cats at San Salvador, the modern name of "Cat Island'. is in no way connected with this circumstance. When Columbus landed, the natives told him the island was called "Guanahani". Some few years ago somebody started a theory that "guanahani" meant a cat. Nobody really knows anything about the matter, for every trace of the aboriginal language has been lost (Powles 243).

◊ Although Lucayan is extinct, there survives a related Arawakan language, Island Carib. Asked if this language has a word related to guanahani meaning 'cat', Douglas Taylor responded, "So far as I know, the cat was unknown until introduced by the white man. The Island Carib then called it méchou from Spanish micho"(p.c.). Regarding the confusion of the names San Salvador arid Guanahani, Craton (1962:33) states "The island at which the Spaniards landed (first in 1492), called by the native Guanahani, was without doubt ... San Salvador. ... The 1523 Turin map gives San Salvador as Guanahani and Cat Island as Guanima."




Tags: Arawak, geography, island, noun

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Last update: 2010-12-21 16:21
Author: Holm and Shilling, DBE, 1982
Revision: 1.0

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