- n. (noun) An implicit agreement between whalers of Eden, Australia, and local orcas, in which the orcas would 'invite' whalers on a whale hunt, in exchange for dibs on the catch, primarily the whale's tongue.
The ‘law of the tongue’ came about upon early 20th century Australian whalers’ encounters with a killer whale they dubbed ‘Old Tom,’ thought to be the leader of a pod that helped the whalers by herding baleen whales. E.J. Brady’s ‘The Law of the Tongue: Whaling by Compact at Twofold Bay’ was published in 1909.
“The whalers would let the killer whales eat the tongues of the dead whales and they in turn left the rest of the carcass for the whalers to take the valuable blubber and bones - an arrangement known as 'the law of the tongue'.”