Wednesday, 15 February 2012

No word for wool in Tagalog

I was listening to The unbelievable truth the other day, which is a BBC radio programme in which contestants have to deliver a lecture made up of mostly lies, but with some truths slipped in. The trick is to hide the truths so that your opponents think they are lies (and meanwhile they're trying to spot the truths). It's quite enlightening.

In the episode I was listening to, one 'fact' offered was that there is no word for 'wool' in Tagalog (spoken in the Philippines). The other contestants all twitched, wondering if they should go for their buzzers. No word for wool! It could so easily be true! There's no way of knowing, of course, if you don't speak Tagalog. Do they have sheep in the Philippines? If not, they might not have wool, and therefore no word for it! Or maybe they just don't have one word that just means wool, they might have a word that encompasses wool and cotton! Or maybe it's a phrase, not a word, like sheep's hair!

No, it was a lie, I'm afraid. Tagalog for 'wool' is lana.

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