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Kane County Cougars 118

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Posted 2017 June 29

Puma concolor has more names than any other animal. At least, that's what the Guinness Book of World Records says. Over forty names in English. That's probably not all that surprising when you consider that it's a New World animal whose traditional range basically covers the entire New World. Basically, draw a line from Juneau, Alaska to Tadoussac, Québec (at the mouth of the Saguenay River, a bit northeast of the city of Québec), and everything on the mainland of North or South America below that line is the traditional range of this creature. With that in mind, it's no surprise there are so many names for it. Every time a European encountered this creature, they'd have asked a native American what the hell that thing was, and the answer they got would depend on which of the literally thousands of American languages the person they asked spoke. That's ample opportunity for multiple names to enter one European language or another, and of course once those names have entered a European language they have the opportunity to jump to other European languages as well.

Indeed, I'm guessing the only reason there aren't even more names is because what I wrote in the preceding paragraph isn't quite right. It would be more accurate to say that every time a European encountered this creature and survived, they would have asked a native American what the hell that thing was. And if you've ever encountered one of these creatures in the wild, you know that that surviving such an encounter is unlikely. And how do you know that? Because if you've ever encountered one of these creatures in the wild, you're probably dead. So I guess that if you've ever encountered one of these creatures in the wild then you don't know that surviving such an encounter is unlikely. You don't know anything, because you're dead. But clearly you're not dead, because you're reading this. Which means you probably haven't encountered one of these creatures in the wild. Do me a favor, will you? Forget I used that "if you've ever encountered" turn of phrase, because clearly this was the wrong time for it.

That being said, most of the names clearly aren't imported from other languages. Some of them may be literal translations of the creature's names in other languages, but for the most part the names are English compound words. I couldn't find a complete list of names, but a partial list includes the following: caracajou, catamount, catawampus, cougar, deer cat, deer tiger, devil cat, fire cat, grey lion, Indian devil, king cat, klandagi, long tail, Mexican lion, mountain lion, mountain screamer, mountain devil, painter, panther, plain lion, puma, quinquajou, red tiger, silver lion, sneak cat, and swamp lion. Most of those clearly don't come from another language. Even some of the ones you think might, don't. Catamount is simply a short form of cat-of-the-mountain, and catawumpus is apparently just an alteration of catamount (probably the result of someone trying to say catamount after having had a quart or so of bourbon).

Cougar is one of the names that does come from an American language. Given that this is one of its names in the English language and the fact that the spelling (with an "ou" for the long "oo" sound) looks French, you'd probably think it comes from a language native to what today is the Northeast and/or eastern Canada. Uh-uh. It actually comes from Tupi, a language from coastal Brazil. The Tupi word was siwasurana; this looks nothing like cougar, but etymology can be like that sometimes. Apparently siwasurana entered Portuguese as çuçurana and then— stop humming the song. I wrote çuçurana, not cucuracha. Totally different word. Those ç's are pronounced like /s/, not /k/, by the way. Somehow the word jumped from Portuguese to Latin (Latin was still being used by in academia at this point) and the soft ç's got hardened in the process, becoming cuguacarana. From th— no I didn't say guacamole. Pay attention, will you? From there it entered French as cougar (thus explaining the spelling), and then English took the word from French, and by some miracle actually didn't screw around with it like Portuguese and Latin and French had.

If there are any regional patterns to which words are used where, I couldn't find them online. Not that this matters here, of course. Kane County is in the Chicagoland suburbs, so there's not really a "local" name for this creature anymore because there probably hasn't been a cougar in the area in a century. Rather, the name was clearly chosen for alliteration. I personally it's a little bit of overkill, but whatever. As for the logo: again, whatever. It's your basic anthropomorphized cougar holding a baseball bat. No points for creativity, but it doesn't provoke a lunch-losing reaction because it's the sort of thing we've all seen dozens of times.

But you know who hasn't ever seen anything like this before? The pitcher. I'm fairly certain no pitcher has ever looked at home plate and seen a bat-wielding cougar at the plate. And that's a good thing. Because any pitcher who ever had probably didn't survive the encounter.

Final Score: 118 points.
Penalties: Region, 8 pts; Alliteration (egregious), 11 pts; Script, 7 pts; Scenery, 11 pts; Humanoid, 30 pts; Player, 51 pts.
Bonuses: None.

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