My pointing out that, in fact, I do know what things are called, but... in English, does nothing to mellow maternal consternation.
I guess it’s hard for her to understand my predicament. It’s just one of those things you don’t really get unless it happens to you.
Mum spent all of her 65 years immersed in the language of her native country, listening to German, reading in German, thinking in German, speaking nothing but German. I’ve had less than a third of that time to assimilate my mother tongue. Much of the passive vocab, which I once possessed as a teenager, has slipped into oblivion during the past quarter of a century of living abroad.
I also made the fatal mistake of not reading any books in German for two decades, which must sound paradoxical to anyone who knows how much of a bookworm I am. Since moving to Spain five years ago, I have been trying to remedy this sad state of affairs, and I have the Kindle archives to prove it.
I do know where my mother is coming from. I, too, took my German for granted for far too many years, never making an effort to maintain, expand and update it, believing that it would always be there for me, held in suspension, pristinely preserved, like a pickled marsupial in a museum display cabinet. But nope. It’s very much a case of “use it or lose it”.