ONE year after its launch, people all over the world “are still logging in every single day” to play a unique version of the hit game Wordle which uses the Shaetlan language.

One of the rarest and most distinct variants of Scots, Shaetlan is spoken on the UK’s northernmost archipelago – and the “Wirdle” game was created in early 2022 to promote the language more widely.

A variation of the hit US game Wordle, players have five attempts to guess a five letter word, with clues given depending on successfully identified letters and their placement.

Now, after twelve months online, the game’s creators are celebrating the huge numbers of people it has reached. Data shared with The Sunday National shows that the game has been played by more than 18,000 people across 100 countries.

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“I know everybody says this, but I really didn’t expect it [to be as big as it is],” Andrew Blance, who co-created the game alongside Julie Dennison and the I Hear Dee project, told this paper.

“What’s really surprised me is the longevity, how many people are still playing it right now, that’s been the really surprising thing for me.

“Also, the breadth of people playing it. It’s not just people in Shetland or Scotland, it’s people in Australia, South America, in Africa, Russia, in America, it’s people all over the world who are still logging in every single day to play it. For me that’s the really exciting bit of the project.”

The National: Map showing, in darkest blue, where most people around the world are logging on to play WirdleMap showing, in darkest blue, where most people around the world are logging on to play Wirdle (Image: I Hear Dee)

Blance, who was born in Shetland before moving to study in Aberdeen and then down to Durham, said he was proud to be part of a project which had helped to “get the Shaetlan language out there”.

“It lets people see how interesting, unique and exciting it is,” he said.

“There’s so much interest and excitement around it. You can introduce it to people who would never have considered it or thought about it before, and that’s really exciting.”

Blance added: “I think showing within Scotland itself, how much the language differs, I think that surprises people as well.”

Professor Viveka Velupillai, a Shetland-based language expert affiliated with the University of Giessen in Germany, said the Wirdle game had inspired other projects around the world to look at creative ways to promote minority languages.

She said it was the “was the inspiration of the Kreyòl VokabiLago developed by the MIT-Haiti Initiative”, which aims to help Haitians learn in their native Kreyòl.

The Wirdle game used a list of Shaetlan words created by the I Hear Dee project which is aiming “to stem, if not turn” the endangerment of the language.

It is part of a host of resources created by the project, including “Da Spaektionary”, which aims to give a “representative snapshot of contemporary Shaetlan speech”.