Over the weekend we got some takeout food for dinner. At home, I dumped the bag of sauce packets, napkins and plastic utensils onto the table.
“Hand me one of those forks, please,” Carlos said.
“It’s not a fork,” I said, holding it up.
“Hand me… one of those thingies,” he said.
(Carlos’s English includes the word “thingies” since apparently I say that a lot.)
“It’s called a ‘spork’ – It’s a spoon-fork, see?” I handed the plastic utensil to him.
“Spork, okay,” he said, taking it from me, more eager to eat than to get a vocabulary lesson.
I took a bite of my food and chewed thoughtfully.
“How do you say ‘spork’ in Spanish?” I asked.
“You don’t,” Carlos answered.
“There’s no word for ‘spork’?”
“Oh!” I became excited. “Hold on, okay, let’s see… In Spanish, ‘spoon’ is ‘cuchara’ and ‘fork’ is ‘tenedor’ so a spork could be… CUCHADOR!”
I fell in love with the new word immediately.
“You can’t do that,” Carlos said.
“You can’t just make words up.”
“I just did! This is a cuchador! And I’m going to go tell the whole internet!”
After dinner I went online and typed “How do you say ‘spork’ in Spanish?” just to make sure Carlos was right, that there wasn’t already a word that existed. To my amusement, Carlos was wrong and there is actually already a word… and it’s ‘cuchador.’ I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t invent a new word, but I’m impressed that my bilingual brain came up with the correct word by putting together what it already knows. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a try!