March 03, 2004

Clarting in the Echo Chamber

A self-referential post for a self-referential site.

Reading Jame's post below, I came across the word "clarting". Given your assumptions about the American public education system, you would not be surprised to find out that I'd never heard of this word before in my life. Given my assumptions about British slang, I wasn't surprised I'd never head of it, either: it's up there with naff, faff and knackered as words that will make any self-respecting, red-blooded American snicker involuntarily, especially when combined with an Oxbridge accent.

So, having the internet at my fingertips, I looked up "clarting" on Google (I rage, rage against the verb "google"), with the hopes that there would be a dictionary definition of the word.

It's bad enough that there wasn't a definition (if there was, this post would be even lamer than it is already becoming). Worse, two of the first three recommended sites on the subject were Messr Geens' and this one (the third, a UK Scrabble site, I suspect is a front for Swedish subversion anyway). Worse still, the first link actually does provides a definition (albeit to define the verb as "meaningless").

Despite the fears of those who think the blogosphere is weak, and that the blog is in decline, the transitive verb "clarting" will forever stand as the trunkless legs of stone, proof that Memefirst once stood here.

Posted by Mike at 05:41 PM GMT

actually mike, the verb "to clart" comes from an ex girlfriend of mine from Newcastle, who would always say "eee, stop clarting on about it" when i urged her to leave her boyfriend. i took it to mean blathering on about the same thing over and over again. later somewhere on MF it was discovered it might also mean to daub with mud, as in a wattle and daub hut, which would need to be clarted.

when you think about it, you would need a lot of mud to daub, or clart, wattle structures, so this would seem to be the origin of the usage of clart as similar to the expression "piling it on". americans might find it interesting to note that many people in Newcastle still live in wattle and daub houses (the huts were demolished in the 1970s with high pressure hoses), and the football as we quaintly call it, or "soccer" as you would stupidly call it, stadium there is built entirely of wattle and clarted daub. thus the word "clart" still has much greater resonance in NE England, and is still part of a living language, a linguistic coelacanth, some fragment of heritage from their pre-human history.

I hope that clears up any lingering interest in the word that you might have.

Posted by: eurof on March 3, 2004 08:14 PM

That wouldn't be evil Kate, would it? I didn't know she was from Newcastle. Wasn't her boyfriend in the SAS? I liked her. She had a sense of humor.

Posted by: Stefan Geens on March 3, 2004 08:48 PM

She was a very bad girl who cause Eurof to behave very strangely. Loyalty to a friend prevents me from describing how.

In any case. I think nackered is spelled knackered.

Posted by: Matthew on March 3, 2004 09:24 PM

Matthew, I'd like to play it off as one of those words like "practice", "defense", or "color" that has alternate spellings, a theory backed up by this amazing site.

but you're probly right.

Posted by: mike on March 3, 2004 09:29 PM

Dear Eurof,
why then do UK tabloids frequently use the term 'soccer' in headlines?

Clueless Yank

Posted by: Clueless Yank on March 4, 2004 01:45 AM

You have introduced me to the word 'coelacanth' and I would like to thank you for your marvelous use of it.

For anyone who's trying to fake it, the coelacanth is a large fish that was erroneously believed extinct, rather like Wales.

Posted by: Jame on March 4, 2004 09:19 AM

dear jame, you're welcome. i enjoyed your funny piece on how MF used to be funny, by the way, which obviously gives it the lie.

dear clueless, thank you for your interest. perhaps you live in the UK and are a regular reader of tabloids like the Sun, Mirror, Star etc. while i do live in london, my own knowledge of what tabloids contain is weak, restricted to the front and back pages which i read in the tube (as we call our underground system) held up by so called "navvies" and other people in hard hats. on the back page, however, where the sports section headline resides, i have never seen the word "soccer". nor have i seen the word "football" for that matter. in every case i believe it is assumed that whatever story you find on the back page is about football; use of the word would be redundant, almost a tautology, if you like. in the innards of the beast, and here i defer to your no doubt greater knowledge, if "soccer" is indeed used in headlines i would assume it is because it is a shorter word than "football" and fits on the page more conveniently. to use the word "soccer" in normal conversation with one of the hard hat brigade would invite what they so charmingly call a "good nutting" or at worst, a "chelsea smile" -- unless of course you are advising your interlocutor to resort to a form of spouse abuse, "to sock her", in which case your suggestion is likely to be welcomed and acted upon.

Posted by: eurof on March 4, 2004 08:44 PM

Gee, thanks Eurof! You're swell.

Posted by: Clued up Yank on March 6, 2004 08:05 AM