There are many words that in English, we take it for granted that everyone knows. The names of trees for instance. Virtually everyone with a reasonably level of education knows a poplar, a pine, a spruce, an oak, a maple, several varieties of maple, etc etc etc...if we get exotic, something like a rowan, fewer people will be familiar with it (unless they read Harry Potter, or live where more of them grow). I can't think of anyone who doesn't know what a saddle or a bit or reins are. Or bricks or clay or a kiln.
Not so in Catalan.
Walking on the weekend, they were struggling for the name of a poplar - om they told me, though on further looking, that's an elm, and we were definitely looking at a poplar of some form. Which I just looked it up and it's an àlber, a particular type of poplar, or as I was told, a pullancre or a xop, which may be the name for poplars in general. This leads me to think that alongside a general lack of vocabulary there are a vast number of names for different things like trees, which considering the sheer range of accent and vocabulary from town to town, that is not a big surprise.
I know a man who is a sculptor, he makes and sells art made of bronze and clay all over Europe, and he teaches this in one of the two art school in BCN. He did not know the Catalan words for kiln and clay, which I just found out today. A kiln is una bòbila, clay for making bricks etc is argila and a brick is un maó, which I have heard but totxo is much more common. (my Catalan teacher did know these words, but had to be prompted - he is trained as an architect and rides horses, so my questions may have run in his favour, horses, woods and kilns!)
Saddle? Sella. I asked.
- bridle - brida
- reins - regnes
- girth - la cincha (spanish, didn't know the word in Catalan - la cingla)
- bit - el ferro (he's not sure that's the correct name, rather one they use)
- stirrups - estreps
Mostly I wonder how it is that people don't know these words. Adults with a good education.
I am mystified.