ÓRTŶ / nettle

photo source: wikimedia

órtŷ“, s.f., pronounced [ɔrtɪ:(j/jə̯)] 🔊, is the Sarkese generic name for “nettle”, any stinging plant of the genus Urtica, of which two subspecies grow in Sark, especially “common nettle” (Urtica dioica), but also “dog nettle” (Urtica urens), for which the forgotten “dige” was reintroduced.

origin: Latin / first recorded for Sarkese: 1889 (ALF) / current status in the 21st century: preserved, in use

“órtŷ” is an invariable countable feminine noun (a she-word that does not change in plural but may be counted). We therefore say “une órtŷ”, one/a nettle, “dz’órtŷ”, some nettles etc. The pronunciation is complex as with any érŷ-noun ending in the feminine “-ŷ”. When in final position, the word is pronounced [ɔrtɪ:j(ə̯)], in CWP as [ɔrtɪ:(j)] or [ɔrtɪ:(ə̯)], but when followed by a consonant it switches to the typical three-sylabic [ɔrtɪjɛ] with a short [ɪ] and a fully pronounced [jɛ].

On the origin

The Sarkese word for nettle was intentionally recorded for the first time already in 1889 Edmond Edmont, a French linguist, who visited the Channel Islands as part of his research and documentation under J. Guilliéron for the Linguistic Atlas of France.

first mention for Sarkese from 1889

Although many names of flowers in Sarkese come from Celtic and Germanic languages, the Sark Norman “órtŷ” directly originates from the Latin name for nettle, “urtica”, as well as the Guernsey Norman “ortie”, the Jersey Norman “ortchie” and the French “ortie”.

Interestingly, in Patrice Brasseur’s ALEN, we find yet another documented name for “nettle”, “dige“, which, unfortunately, isn’t known or understood in the given meeaning by any of our last native speakers. The presented form is, however, clearly related to the word “diǧét”, stinger, and since “dog nettle” is not only believed to be more stinging and called in some languages “the stinger”, but actually has big visible stingers coming out of its leaves. The word “dige” was readopted as a distinctive name for “dog nettle” to distinguish see the SNDO entry “dige

Popular medicine

photo source: wikimedia

According to a popular custom on the both sides of the Channel, and in Sark as well, if stung by a nettle, it is recommended to apply dockleaves, “doge”, onto the burnt parts of skin to ease the pain. As dockleaves grow practically next to nettles in the same spots in Sark, if you have never tried this popular remedy, you may see for yourself next time you get a sting from a nettle. Be aware though, that according to many scientists, the dockleaves easing the pain after a nettle burn theory may be actually based simply on a placebo effect, so don’t give yourself a nettle burn on purpose 🙂

“Si une órtŷ t’pike, tu mê dê fyełe d’doge sû la pičeúre.” (MT, 2021)

If a nettle gives you a sting, you put dockleaves on the stinging.


Citation: NEUDÖRFL, Martin. órtŷ/nettle. In: Sark Norman Dictionary Online [on-line]. https://www.bonjhur.net/sndo-vocab-flora-orty

Relevant SNDO Entries:

→ back to the WILD FLORA OF SARK section