the tanner ba'

WeeFuse Learns About Language

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Never seen an episode, can’t name a single person in this picture.

Did you ever wonder why something was the way it was and then realize that the answer had been staring you right in the face…for years?!

In this case, I have wondered for years- but I guess been to lazy to look up?- why so many football clubs in Scotland were nicknamed the “Jags” or had that as part of their nickname.  I also was apparently too lazy to notice that all of those clubs were named, “__________ Thistle F.C.”- Partick, Caley, Buckie, Strathspey, East Kilbride are just the better known of the clubs falling into this category.

(Just to be clear, while all the clubs nicknamed the “Jags,” had “thistle” in their name, not all the clubs with “thistle” in their names are nicknamed the “Jags.”)

I guess I should probably get to my point…

The connection between the “Jags” and “thistle” is that the word “jag” or “jaggie” actually comes from the Scots (as in the language) for “prick” or “prickly,” which makes perfect sense if you have any familiarity with the thistle plant (called “thrissle” in Scots).  If you don’t, a picture should make it clear to you:

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Not a flower you want to pick with your bare hands.

Nerdy historical side note: the official Latin motto of Scotland’s Stuart Dynasty (and numerous other Scottish organizations) was/is “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit,” which is, roughly, “no one touchs/attacks/injures me with impunity.”  It’s a long story you can read here, but basically, the motto is thought by many to derive from the plant itself.

So, it all kind of makes sense as a nickname for a football club with “thistle” in it’s name- mystery solved, sort of.

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Isn’t there always one club that has to go and confuse things?  Well, in this case that’s junior side (East Region North) Scone Thistle F.C..*  Scone are an old club- founded in 1882- and somewhere along the line they took on the nickname of the “Jaggy Nettles,” which means- in English- “stinging nettles,” which are, of course, a completely different plant from thistle, which doesn’t sting!  I mean it makes perfect as a nickname- “we’re pointy and stingy”- but in terms of logic, well, S.T.F.C., you’re not helping!

So now you know…

*as long as I’m fling the Nerd Flag today, in Scotland “Scone” (the place) rhymes with “spoon,” whereas “scone” the food rhymes with “gone,” while in most of the rest of the U.K. in rhymes with “bone.”  Isn’t language wonderful?

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