- See the article Smurf (language) at Smurfs Wiki.
The Smurf language is basically a variation of a human language where the word "smurf" is substituted for whatever noun, verb, adjective, or adverb is being used. It is a rather intuitive form of communication, since only Smurfs seem to know without any sense of confusion what one Smurf is really saying to another Smurf in Smurf. It mostly depends on what context the word "smurf" is being used in since it can hold any number of meanings, including sometimes profanity, though that rarely appears in mainstream Smurfs media usage.
Mainstream Smurfs Media
Its use in mainstream Smurfs media is as follows.
In the events that took place in the animated adaptation of "The Smurfs And The Magic Flute," Peewit attempted to ask for a glass of water in Smurf to a fellow Smurf, only to get other things instead. Brainy tries to explain, "to speak in Smurf, the verb and noun must both agree, and adjectives make the meaning vary" -- although, as usual, he gets bludgeoned over the head. Peewit also mistranslated a message that was spoken by another Smurf in Smurf, which required Papa Smurf to provide the correct translation.
In "The Fake Smurf," when Hogatha was masquerading as Snorty Smurf, she was confused when Vanity tried to tell her something in Smurf.
As witnessed in the comic book story "Smurf Versus Smurf" and the cartoon special "The Smurfic Games," debates do occasionally break out in the manner of the word "smurf" being used in compounded words and phrases, as one Smurf might say "corksmurf" and another Smurf might say "smurfscrew," though both are correct forms of the word. This verbal debate led to the events that took place in their respective stories.
In the 2011 Smurfs movie, Patrick Winslow has a moment of anger where he just says "smurfity smurf smurf smurf", believing it to be total nonsense, when Gutsy tells him there's no need to use that kind of language, implying that it was used as profanity.
Empath: The Luckiest Smurf series
Not all Smurfs speak in Smurf. Empath, of all Smurfs in the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story series, speaks mostly in the language of Psychelian. At first he had trouble understanding Smurf, but eventually he came to understand perfectly what the other Smurfs say in Smurf. Unfortunately, Empath is unable to fluently speak in Smurf except in rare cases when he gets very angry or very scared, and his attempts to do so in other situations usually results in constant misinterpretation, so Empath sticks to speaking in Psychelian. However, though Empath is capable of reading in both Smurf and Psychelian, the other Smurfs are unable to understand anything Empath writes in Psychelian, so he has to translate it into Smurf text. While Empath personally feels that he is less of a true Smurf for not being able to speak in Smurf, Papa Smurf lets him know that his inability to do so doesn't make him any less of a Smurf because his true Smurfness lies within his own heart.
During Empath's honeymoon, he finally achieved the ability to fluently speak in Smurf without needing to experience an extreme emotion, suggesting that Empath would never truly be complete as a Smurf without Smurfette. However, his newfound ability to speak fluently in Smurf now required him to relearn how to speak in Psychelian, as all his thought patterns were now in Smurf language, and besides that most of his fellow Smurfs found it rather strange to hear Empath speaking in Smurf after all the years they heard him speak in Psychelian. Near the end of his life, Empath spoke more in a human language as the only Smurf he ever had to converse with was his great-grandson Polaris, who became Traveler Smurf.
Also to note that in the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story series, Smurf was only one of the languages that the Smurfs spoke in previous generations; the other languages also include Schtroumpf, Schlumpf, Pitufo, Puffo, and Smurfentaal. (In respective order, they are the Smurf culture equivalents of French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Dutch.) It was through the creation of the Smurf head logo which became part of the written language of the Smurfs that Smurf became the dominant language of the people, with only Painter, whose family was a member of the Schtroumpf clan, insisting on speaking in Schtroumpf rather than Smurf on occasion. Schtroumpf is also used in the recording of Smurf names in official registers: Empath is recorded as Schtroumpf Empathie, for example.
Wild Smurf, when he was first discovered, could only communicate with hand signals and animal chatter. It was through Empath's efforts that Wild began to speak in Smurf, although rather primitively at first, which surprised Empath, as he himself at the time was unable to effectively communicate in Smurf.
Some common expressions used:
- Smurfy -- when used in a positive manner, it can mean happy, merry, or something that is totally agreeable with the ways of a Smurf; when used negatively, it can mean crazy, silly, or foolish.
- Unsmurfy -- used to mean bad or something that is totally disagreeable with the ways of a Smurf.
- Smurfy idea -- same as "good idea".
- Isn't that smurfy -- same as "isn't that great"; it can be used either positively or negatively.
- That's just smurfy -- same as "that's just great"; usually used in a manner describing disgust or disappointment.
- Great Smurfness -- same as "great goodness"; used to indicate shock or surprise.
- In the name of Smurf/a Smurf -- same as "in the name of God". Painter uses the Schtroumpf variant at times, "nom d'un Schtroumpf".
- Sweet mother of Smurf -- same as "sweet mother of God"; usually used by Farmer Smurf.
- Great Smurfs of Fire -- same as "great balls of fire"; usually used by Papa Smurf.
- No smurfing way -- same as "no (expletive deleted) way"; usually used to emphasize great disbelief or a great refusal.
- Smurfin' Begora -- same as "faith and begorrah"; usually used by Miner Smurf.
- Smurf o' the morning -- same as "top o' the morning"; usually used by Tapper Smurf as a morning greeting.
- Great Smurfiny Crickets -- a common expression of Tapper Smurf used to indicate shock or surprise.
- Smurfabunga -- same as "cowabunga"; usually used by the Smurflings.
Smurf Problems series
The Smurfs speak the language normally, with the word normally used to substitute something that could be a bad word in normal speaking.
The artificial Smurfs like the Smurfette's crew, do not speak the language, and a running gag is them trying to translate it or saying "I don't speak Smurf". Bella spoke it in her first appearance, but in reality she was faking it, because she really can't talk it.
LD Stories/Expanded AU
In The Light and Dark Series, which crosses over with the Expanded Animated Universe, the Smurfs are fluent in Smurf language, but still have moments of debate over the correct terminology, such as "smurfquake" versus "earthsmurf," which both mean "earthquake" in human language. The separation of the Eastern and Western dialect within the village is imported from the cartoon show, but is toned down more with reminiscence from "The Smurfic Games."
Smurfs are born unable to speak much at all, but develop this skill within their late infant years, at which point they begin to undergo language lessons. To learn the Smurf language at all requires one particularly important element following the First Word Ceremony:
Smurfiness -- the very heart and soul of a Smurf's being, which makes them true Smurfs. It can only be discovered within the Smurf through intrapersonal collectivity and each Smurf is unique; some realize their own Smurfiness right away, and some do not realize their Smurfiness until they are much older. Without this specific element, a Smurf may never be able to understand or speak in the Smurf language fluently.
When Smurfette was first introduced, she was not a true Smurf, so she could not fluently speak in Smurf. After gaining true "Smurfiness," she began to learn the language and first understood it. Shortly thereafter, she was able to speak it and has done so ever since.
In "Peewit's Unsmurfy Mistake" of Season 10, Peewit accidentally turns Johan into a Smurf. During this time, he does not speak Smurf, but seems to understand it to some degree. This suggests that one may be able to understand and learn the language if they were to remain in Smurf form long enough, but in this case, Johan was returned to normal and no longer understands the Smurf language.
In "Moxette's Crazy, Stupid Love," Moxette turns herself human to pursue her crush on Johan. Once done, she is unable to speak in Smurf and cannot understand her fellow Smurfs (implied, but not directly evident in this case because she does not interact with the Smurfs until she returns to normal). This case does, however, prove that Smurfs can lose their ability to use the Smurf language if they lose their "Smurfiness."
Esther Smurfette Stories
In the Esther: The Adventurous Smurfette story series, every Smurf speaks Smurf Language. Smurfette originally couldn't speak, nor understand Smurf. After she had the 'True Blue Spell' cast on her, she could fully understand Smurf, but couldn't speak it. Smurfette soon was taught how to by the other Smurfs, and can now speak fully in Smurf.
Esther however, no matter how hard she tries, cannot speak in Smurf, and doesn't particularly wish to, only trying (In an annoyed way) to when other Smurfs brought up how she didn't. Although she can't speak it, Esther can understand Smurf, which she believes is because of a spell that must have been placed on her while she was being turned into a Smurf.
The original term and the accompanying language came during a meal Peyo was having with his colleague and friend André Franquin in which, having momentarily forgotten the word "salt", Peyo asked him (in French) to pass the schtroumpf. Franquin replied: "Here's the Schtroumpf — when you are done schtroumpfing, schtroumpf it back" and the two spent the rest of that weekend speaking in schtroumpf language. The name was later translated into Dutch as Smurf, which was adopted in English. This origin appears in veiled form in the original French version of "The Smurfs And The Book That Tells Everything" and also in "The Great Book Of Answers".
The language problem in "Smurf Versus Smurf" and "The Smurfic Games" cartoon special is based on the real-world language problem between the French and Dutch speakers in Peyo's home country of Belgium. The Dutch speakers mostly live in the northern part of the country, while the French speakers mostly live in the southern part.