popular plant fibers around the world

Here in the file of Things I’m Saving Because There Might Be A Blog Post In Them is the tag off a “TEKLA” dish towel from Ikea.  That’s the thin white one with the red stripe, the one that’s so excellent for drying glasses.  Granted it’s a good dish towel, and very economically priced, but it’s hardly a candidate for internet immortality.  But turn the tag over and there’s a treat for any lover of words and lists and lists of words.  So here, care of Ikea, is The Word for “Cotton” in Lots of Different Languages:

  • cotton English
  • coton French  cotone Italian  katoen Dutch
  • algodon Spanish  algodao Portuguese
  • baumwolle German
  • bomuld Danish  bomull Norwegian, Swedish
  • bavina Czech, Slovak
  • bumbac Romanian
  • pamut Hungarian  pamuk Serbian, Croatian, Turkish
  • puuvilaaa Finnish
  • kapas Malay

This is very interesting.  There are a bunch of Germanic  words that mean something like “treewool”, and a bunch of words with Romance roots, including the English and Dutch words, that are pretty obviously related to Iberian words derived from Arabic.  The Wikipedia confirms this, but hey, we deduced it from an Ikea dish towel label.

(Note: there were several other words for cotton on the list, but they depend on the use of alphabets I don’t have access to. If you know the word for cotton in another language, and how to spell it in the Roman alphabet, please share it and I’ll add it to the list.)

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