The "Kats" spelling

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Dr. Ascara
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The "Kats" spelling

Post by Dr. Ascara » Mon May 04, 2020 4:53 pm

For instance, I didn't find the answer to why the word "cat" is spelt with "K". Does it bring any additional meaning to Anglophones? Maybe it comes from some slang word? Because there has to be some explanation, hasn't? I would be very thankful for any hypotheses and replies.
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Re: The "Kats" spelling

Post by Kooshmeister » Mon May 04, 2020 9:46 pm

That's a very good question. One that I'm sure has been posed before and had many answers in this fandom before. Though I can't remember those answers if I read them. Certainly I can't recall anything concrete from the creators, producers, writers etc. My own theory, based on the fact the onscreen title is "Cats" turned into "Kats" by having claw marks turn the C into a K, was to distinguish it. How and why I dunno, beyond coolness for coolness' sake.

I do know, though, that behind the scenes, the even the writers were inconsistent about whether it's cat or kat. Early production materials refer to "Megacat City," the "Cat's Eye News Chopper" and "Misc. Frightened Cats," and minor character Katscratch's name is spelled with a C in these production materials. I think everyone stills spells his name with a K because regardless of what the model sheets, script and storyboards for The Metallikats, any example of "cat" automatically becomes "kat" in every other instance (such as the aforementioned "Cat's Eye News"; despite what the model sheet says, it's spelled "Kat's Eye News" on the actual vehicle(s)). This is why we call him Katscratch on the SWAT Kats Encyclopedia and not Catscratch.

Similarly, another behind the scenes inconsistency is whether it's SWAT Kats or Swat Kats. We're all reasonably positive that it's intended to be SWAT as in the acronym for Special Weapons and Tactics, but even well into season two, many episode scripts and production materials refer to our heroes as the Swat Kats, as if they hit people with flyswatters or something.

But returning to why it's kats instead of cats, again, I think it was just to make the title more distinguishable (and because of what TV Tropes calls "extreme kool letterz," a very 80s-90s thing). It's entirely possible this was originally only supposed to apply to the title, but just naturally filtered into the show itself during the production of the first few episodes and stuck for the show's duration. Though this is debatable; the aforementioned early things like Megacat City, Cat's Eye News and Catscratch may just be examples of the writers having difficulty settling into the unusual spelling. Though I do know that as the show went on, they started substituting K for C even for some words besides kat. Like in Razor's Edge, Dark Kat's ninja-like minions are called Kommando-Kats and the device they swipe is emphatically called the Mega-Katalytic Konverter on its model sheet(s). I'm surprised Tiger Conklin's surname wasn't spelled Konklin!

For a definitive answer, we might have to consult the Tremblays, (Television's!) Lance Falk or Glenn Leopold about it sometime. It's also possible the answer is somewhere in the wealth of behind the scenes stuff, particularly the press kit(s) and promotional materials. I'll give them a once-over later and get back to you. Or someone else can beat me to it. I used to be the answer man, but I guess as I approach middle age I'm gettin' slow and lazy. TboneLaughCait
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Re: The "Kats" spelling

Post by Dr. Ascara » Wed May 06, 2020 8:52 am

Thank you for your answer, Kooshmeister. I did try to lurk about it but I didn't manage to find anything.
I'm surprised by the fact that there was a time when the spelling like "Kool Letterz" seemed cool. Maybe their (K, Z) sharp and primitive form looked like something out of the system and provocative... For me, it's only a misspelling. TboneLaughCait
Or my opinion comes from the fact I was taught with the British spelling. You know, out of this forum I still write "colour, organisation, finalise" and so on. And French also chains me to that traditional orthography.
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Re: The "Kats" spelling

Post by Rusakov » Fri May 08, 2020 4:34 pm

It could also be copyright related. After all, you can't really trademark the word "cats", but you might be able to trademark the word "Kats". RazSilly
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Re: The "Kats" spelling

Post by Dr. Ascara » Sun May 10, 2020 3:39 pm

Rusakov wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 4:34 pm
It could also be copyright related. After all, you can't really trademark the word "cats", but you might be able to trademark the word "Kats". RazSilly
Sounds very logical! I am grateful for this theory. skcoinicon
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Re: The "Kats" spelling

Post by Rusakov » Mon May 11, 2020 9:48 pm

Dr. Ascara wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 3:39 pm
Rusakov wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 4:34 pm
It could also be copyright related. After all, you can't really trademark the word "cats", but you might be able to trademark the word "Kats". RazSilly
Sounds very logical! I am grateful for this theory. skcoinicon
Aww, sure thing! RazorHappyCait
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Re: The "Kats" spelling

Post by Lord_Tennyson's_Pipe » Tue May 26, 2020 1:27 am

Kooshmeister wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 9:46 pm
My own theory, based on the fact the onscreen title is "Cats" turned into "Kats" by having claw marks turn the C into a K, was to distinguish it. How and why I dunno, beyond coolness for coolness' sake.
I agree with this. It seems like a very '90s thing to do to alter the spelling to make it seem "cool", "hip", or even "edgy." Plus, in English, C sometimes makes a "soft" sound before certain vowels, while K is always hard no matter what vowel it precedes. It's similar to how metal bands sometimes put umlauts in their names to sound cool, when umlauts actually make "soft" sounds in German, Danish, Swedish, etc.
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Re: The "Kats" spelling

Post by Dr. Ascara » Tue May 26, 2020 11:36 am

Lord_Tennyson's_Pipe wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 1:27 am
I agree with this. It seems like a very '90s thing to do to alter the spelling to make it seem "cool", "hip", or even "edgy." Plus, in English, C sometimes makes a "soft" sound before certain vowels, while K is always hard no matter what vowel it precedes. It's similar to how metal bands sometimes put umlauts in their names to sound cool, when umlauts actually make "soft" sounds in German, Danish, Swedish, etc.
What an interesting answer! I thought that "C" and "K" had the same meaning in the language (I mean in truly English words, not Latin or so on). Thank you.
A bit out of the topic but could you explain if there is indeed any coherence in their spelling? Why "kind" and "keep" are spelt with "K" and "can", "cold", "cow" with "C"? Is it because "K" is only before the "i" sound?
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Re: The "Kats" spelling

Post by Lord_Tennyson's_Pipe » Tue May 26, 2020 4:34 pm

Dr. Ascara wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:36 am
A bit out of the topic but could you explain if there is indeed any coherence in their spelling? Why "kind" and "keep" are spelt with "K" and "can", "cold", "cow" with "C"? Is it because "K" is only before the "i" sound?
Etymology, really. It depends on where the word came from. If a word comes from Latin, such as circle or center, it will have a soft-c sound because in Late Latin, the hard c went soft before i and e, but kept its hard sound before a, o, and u, such as in curriculum, conspiracy, and carcass. If the word comes from Old English, it is often spelled with a k to preserve its hard sound, such as in king, which is derived from Old English cyning.
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