Monday, January 12, 2009

Father Brown

I'm working on a project that involves Father Brown, and it has taken about three or four readings of the same story each time for me to be truly amazed at Chesterton's depth of knowledge about everything.

Right now, I'm working on the Perishing of the Pendragons, and there is an amazing amount of nautical information in there. Did Chesterton have to look things up to write that? I doubt it.

And his vocabulary! Yesterday, I was making french toast with my girls, and we were sprinkling the pieces with cinnamon, and I was reminded that Chesterton used a word in the book mentioned above that I had to look up. This word
cop·pice (kŏp'ĭs) n. A thicket or grove of small trees or shrubs, especially one maintained by periodic cutting or pruning to encourage suckering, as in the cultivation of cinnamon trees for their bark.
coppice, which I was unfamiliar with. Since the definition mentioned cinnamon, I remembered it when we were making french toast.

Chesterton's vocabulary was HUGE. Enormous. WAY bigger than mine. I'm looking up words at least twice per page. And every time, my amazement at him grows.

Here is just a short list of words I've looked up. See how many you know:
funnel (in a ship sense)
paling (in terms of a fence)
spud (not in terms of a potato)


  1. Alas, His trade was words....

  2. Yes, Del, that's true. But do you think his readers, too, had that large a vocabulary? Have our times dumbed us down to a smaller vocabulary? I think so.

  3. I knew prow, piebald and paling. (Beyond the pale, anyone?) but I bet there were just as many that you knew and didn't have to look up, that I would've had to look up. ;)


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