30 January 2008

Catalan word of the day: teixó

I came back from Barcelona a little sunburned, and with a nasty feverish cough sickness thing. Probably unrelated.

The sunburn bridging my nose and cheeks was the result of a Sunday afternoon in the park, basking in the golden January sun. We had a picnic with the Mister's family in the hills of the Collserolla, the ones that embrace Barcelona like a bosomy grandma.

While traipsing through the woods, the little girls gathering all manner of sticks and leaves and rocks, we came across animal-track and leaf-print sculptures. I could translate the names of most of the animals, except for one: teixó. They described it to me as an animal that digs in the ground. But it doesn't live underground. It's not really small. But it's not really big. I was stumped. At last, when we got to the nature center, there was a picture of a teixó, and I'm proud to say I was at least able to identify the creature from the picture: a badger!

One new vocabulary word richer, I joined the others in a sunny spot and noshed on sandwiches. There is something terribly satisfying about eating outdoors, especially in the middle of winter and after days of Brussels gray. Also, being a European picnic, it involved having coffee in tiny espresso cups at the nearby bar. We lounged at the bar for hours, reading the papers and chatting and soaking up sun.

Later that night, the cough I had had for a few days seemed to develop a fever and I went straight to bed at like 6 pm. Getting up at 4:30 the next morning for my flight (the Mister had to stay in town for meetings until today, but I had my French oral exam on Tuesday) was miserable.

By 11 am I was back in bed, in a different city, still coughing and still feverish. Fortunately, I felt better by Tuesday morning and was able to take a stab at the oral exam. I have no idea if I did well: when nervous, I tend to speak foreign languages too rapidly, stumbling over my own words, and after the fact I am unable to recall what I said, let alone whether I said it well. I do remember that I used a direct object pronoun (which I remember because I noticed that my teacher took a note after that: score!) but also that I couldn't think of the word for "knife." Awkward sawing motions were involved.

So I guess the French word of the day is: couteau.

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