Vous me passez le…schtroumpf ?
voom paa-say luh SHTROOMF? Click below to hear this pronounced!
Wanna pass me the…whatchamacallit?
Uh-oh. How did they get in here? What do the Smurfs® want with Spk Frnch?
Aha! So glad you asked! They are here because they speak French too!
You see, in Belgium, le schtroumpf is a made-up word to name whatever it is whose name you can’t quite remember. Whatchamacallit. Thingumy. Thingamabob. Thingamajig. Whatchamy. Whozit. Gizmo.
French from France depends on words like le machin, le truc, le bidule, le bidule-chouette, le truc-muche… Human memory fails us in every country, in every culture, so every language needs words like these!
According to the story that is generally accepted as true (and it’s plausible, whether it’s true or not, and besides, it makes a good tale), two Belgian cartoonists, Peyo and Franquin, were having dinner together. Peyo wanted the salt shaker, and its name escaped him, so he asked for le schtroumpf. (Presumably his request was accompanied with a gesture, so everyone would know which schtroumpf he wanted. Presumably he also got his salt.) What he apparently also got was a full-blown idea for the well-known little blue characters, who promptly became famous the world over.
In honor of the dinner-table conversation from which les Schtroumpfs sprang, here is a portrait of le Schtroumpf-Cuisinier (Cook-Smurf).
By the way, our word of the day sounds just like the German word Strumpf, which means sock. What you wear on your feet, not something that is done to someone’s nose. Les Schtroumpfs do look like a bunch of blue sock-puppets. None of which gives you permission to put them on the table, please.