This past week I’ve learned the words for “to light” (a fire), “to catch fire”, “burning coals”, and “thin” (pieces of wood)”. Now, to be clear, “to light a fire” is different from “to make a fire”, “burning coals” is one word which only describes that specific phenomenon, and “thin” only refers to strips, strings or wire.
I’ve been learning French since middle schools and have lived in two francophone countries for a total of a year and a half. Yet, I do not know the equivalent of these words in French, or for that matter have ever even stumbled across them in conversation. This makes perfect sense; one of my basic needs in surviving here is fire, and the materials to make it. These words are elementary in learning Mongolian, while “beach” may be considered highly advanced. Now I truly love Mongolia… but the next language I learn, “beach”, “tan” and “washing machine” will be considered basic vocabulary, while “to freeze”, “dust”, and “bowl to hand wash laundry in”, will be learned only at the most advanced level.