It was all the news stories about the disappearance of Dasha Popova that inspired this week’s theme for words of the day. But I always encountered this word while living in Moscow. In December I was getting ready to go to England with a friend for Christmas break. A week before what would have been my last day in class before I went to England for three weeks I made a batch of plov (A rice dish with meat and vegetables). After eating this I got the worst case of food poisoning that I have ever had in my entire life. I will spare you the details, but I just missed the week of school leading up to my vacation so I was unable to inform my teachers that I would be gone for three weeks.
So can you guess what my teachers said to me in January when I showed up in class one day after my vacation?
“Джейни! Куда ж вы пропали?” “Janey, where on earth did you disappear to?”
I then asked the same question of my best friend Borya a couple of weeks later when I couldn’t get ahold of him for weeks and we were supposed to go on a trip together. Finally I got him on the phone and asked, “Борис Михаилович, куда ты пропал?” It could also be translated as “Where have you been?” when the person has been missing for a while. Turns out he got the flu and was completely incapacitated.
But on a more serious note…This is also what is used to describe missing children. The phrase ‘Пропал ребенок’ is what you will see on missing posters and it literally means ‘a child has gone missing’. Here are some of the lines from stories about Dasha:
“Ростовская третьеклассница пропала 19 сентября, когда возвращалась домой из школы после уроков.”
“A Rostov third-grader went missing on the 19th of September when she was returning home from school”
The word form is a little different here, it’s the active, past participle meaning ‘the one that got lost’. So this sentence would translate as “In Rostov they found the lost Dasha Popova”.
So her story had a very happy ending.