Ever heard the phrase, “What I don’t know could fill an encyclopedia?” Or perhaps, “The words I don’t know could fill a dictionary.” Reading Tolkien is a fun way to realize one’s limitations (and have them expanded).
Just the first chapter of LOTR contains words I would seldom use like tussock, thicket, and brake as nouns refering to different types of growth; but moreover, a word I didn’t know at all came up: sloe. Fortunately, because of context, I gathered it was a type of fruit, but beyond that I was only guessing.
“A bitter wild fruit like a small plum that grows on a bush called a blackthorn”
For the record a blackthorn is a thorned bush with black branches, white flowers and sour purple fruit. Looking these up in the dictionary, I stumbled upon sloe gin. That is not to say that I stumbled over my bottle of sloe gin left carelessly near the bookshelf, but rather I saw the entry in the dictionary.
“A strong alcoholic drink made by leaving sloes in gin so that the gin has the flavour and colour of the sloes.”
Just feeling a little more knowledgable today. Who knows what Tolkien will teach me on the train ride home.