I have learned that there’s a great deal more art than I had supposed in working with words in this way. I’ve had to make a few judgment calls about which words match a headword in The Ten Thousand, a process which I mistakenly thought would be completely straightforward. Now that I am working with the uncommon words, I’m working on which of them are humble enough for our purposes. Some uncommon words, like “dragon”, might be taken as common within the genre. They are words in a cauldron from which a fantasy author almost must dip if he is to establish his world in its proper place in our imaginations. We save for another day the question of whether Tolkien used a word from the fantasy stew or whether that word excites fantasy associations because Tolkien used it.
Update: at first I foolishly thought I could identify fantasy-genre-specific words and hold them apart from our discussion. This attempt led to some excellent dinner table discussions with Grace and the kids – and to the abandonment of a silly idea. Any school vice-principal worth her salt is at least a little bit of a dragon.
I actually own a mattock. Mattock is to stump as pickaxe is to bedrock. While recognizing its use as a weapon in The Hobbit, it’s a regular maintenance tool in my shed.
- 17.031 in battle they wielded heavy two-handed mattocks;
- 17.051 wielding their mattocks,