WTF Fun Fact 13195 – Tartle

The Scots have some great words in their vocabulary. Take “tartle,” for example. Have you ever heard of it?

What is a “tartle”?

Tartle is a Scottish word. It refers to the feeling of hesitation or panic that one experiences when one can’t remember someone’s name. Scots also use it to describe the act of hesitating to introduce someone because you can’t remember their name.

When someone experiences tartle forgetfulness, it can be caused by a number of factors. These include age-related memory loss, lack of attention when the person was first introduced, or normal forgetting. It can also be related to a condition known as anomic aphasia. This is a type of language disorder that affects the ability to recall words, including names.

The word tartle is not widely known outside of Scotland, but it is a useful word to describe a common experience of social awkwardness. You can also use the word tartle to describe the general feeling of hesitation when you are trying to remember something (not just a name) or when you are in a situation where your memory failed.

According to The Scotsman (cited below): “What makes the word so special is that it doesn’t apply when you forget the person’s name entirely. Oh no. It exists only to encapsulate the brief awkwardness while you rummage around your brain for the answer.”

Describing social awkwardness

There are many words and phrases in the English language that describe social awkwardness, here are a few examples:

  • Inept: This word is used to describe a lack of social skills or ability.
  • Bumbling: This word is used to describe someone who is awkward, clumsy or inarticulate in social situations.
  • Tongue-tied: This phrase is used to describe the feeling of being unable to speak coherently or express oneself effectively in a social situation.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Scottish word of the week: Tartle” — The Scotsman

WTF Fun Fact 12893 – Scottish Words for Snow

The Scottish are really giving the Inuit a run for their money when it comes to piling up snow-related words. A few years ago, academics reported that they had found over 400 Scottish words for snow – 421, to be exact.

Why are there so many words for snow?

If you live in a snowy place, you know that there are different kinds of snow – wet snow, powdery snow, heavy snow, snow that makes good snowmen, lake effect snow, etc.

After spending years working through historical documents written in the Scots language, it turns out the people of Scotland really got descriptive! Academics at the University of Glasgow organized the Historical Thesaurus of Scots into some interesting categories, including (but not limited to):

  • types of snow
  • actions that involve throwing snow
  • pre-snow weather conditions
  • snowstorms
  • snow accessories
  • snow words related to sheep

What are some Scottish words for snow?

According to the BBC (cited below), the words that will go into the thesaurus include:

  • snaw – snow (viewed either as falling flakes, or as the layer of these formed on the ground)
  • feefle – to swirl
  • flindrikin – a slight snow shower
  • sneesl – to begin to rain or snow
  • snaw-pouther – fine driving snow
  • spitters – small drops or flakes of wind-driven rain or snow
  • unbrak – the beginning of a thaw
  • skelf – a large snowflake

But our favorites are “Katty-clean-doors,” which is a child’s name for snow, and “smirr,” which refers to a fine rain, drizzle, or of sleet or snow.”

The Scots thesaurus

Of course, we all have lots of words that mean roughly the same thing – there are thesauruses for nearly every language. But we’re still impressed by just how diverse the Scots language is.

The Scots thesaurus also includes a category on sport and believe it or not, the game of marbles has the most words associated with it at 369.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Scots ‘have 421 words for snow” — BBC