My French vocabulary is expanding in ways I had never imagined as I speak French with my kiddo. Last night, as I watched him practice crawling and performing various yoga moves I will never be able to emulate, I hit a roadblock in my conversation. I said, in French, “Let’s go wipe the…the…how do you say it in English? Snot?…off your face.”
Feeling like a sixth grader looking up bad words in the dictionary (I am sure they just Google it on their smartphones now), I had to look up snot. I don’t have the large desk-sized version of the Robert dictionary you French majors may have lugged around. I don’t even have the Petit Robert. I have a small highly abridged version. I didn’t expect to find it, but there it was. In fact, not only did it tell me how to say snot (morve, f.), but it told me how to say “snotty adj. (as in children)- morveaux.”
I looked up snot in my Spanish dictionary next. Technology is great for quick answers, but I still love my dictionaries. It’s “mocos” in Spanish. As I contemplated the various ways I can sneak this into my Spanish Conversation course this Fall, I realized that the only Swedish word I remember from my friendship with some Swedish exchange students years ago is “slem,” or, snot. We were walking through arctic conditions on the UK campus, and the topic came up as the substance was forming ice on our faces. Okay, it felt arctic to me. I am sure they thought it felt like home.
The point of all this is that until you know how to say random and seldom-taught vocabulary words such as snot, raccoon and spark plug in your target language, you have a lot of dictionary/smartphone time in your future. May all of them be as fun as snot, er, morve. I just hope you don’t need to know because someone is waiting for you to wipe it from their face.