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In their English-language animated appearances they could be cloyingly cute, but in French they were spared this fate by their language, marked by an incessant use of the invented word schtroumpf, employed as noun, verb, adverb, adjective, and interjection.
Anyway, he said that the use of the word "schtroumpf" began when Peyo had just begun drawing them, and was engulfed by the universe and adventures of the smurfs.
What schtroumpf highlighted was the ability of such dummy words to suggest words prohibited from writing or speech, regardless of the fact that the actual words schtroumpf was substituting for were always clear from context.
Truc or chose became neutral from exposure, but schtroumpf subliminally spoke to the unconscious; its surface strangeness could make it mean things that the child's mind does not yet know but can imagine with tantalizing vagueness.
The story, often repeated by Peyo's son, is that his father was enjoying a family meal with a fellow cartoonist when, momentarily forgetting the word for salt, he asked him to pass the "schtroumpf."