Sunday, April 16, 2017

Expanding vocabulary

Rachel's reading Little Women right now and she came out last night to ask me what a quadroon was. Honestly, I couldn't tell her. Something about...four? I dunno.

"Isn't it a dance?" Andrew asked.

It's not. It's a (relatively offensive (and antiquated) term) for "a person who is one-quarter black by descent." I looked it up.

"But why would a quadroon ruin the school?" Rachel wanted to know.

"Well, we just watched the movie Hidden Figures," I reminded her. "This story took place long before then—during the American Civil War—and even though the Marshes probably sided with the union, that didn't mean that they were pro-civil rights."

Hidden Figures was amazing, by the way.*

Anyway, last night as we were going to bed I recounted to Andrew about how our little girl had come up to ask about the word quadroon, of all things, a word I don't recall ever coming across (although I once read Little Women, so...).

"At least I knew it was a word," Andrew said.

"You thought it was a dance!" I said.

"Quadrille. Quadroon. What's the difference?" he argued. "Actually, it's in that book you're reading now—Religion of a Different Color—I just forgot about it momentarily. What? It's been a stressful week."

Evidently I haven't gotten that far in the book. Or I just ignored the word? I dunno.

We had fun mis-defining the word quadroon for a few minutes, thinking of things it sounds like it could be. A dance (quadrille? quadroon?), a cookie (macaroon? quadroon?), a shape, a four-part cartoon, some kind of animal... I don't remember what all we came up with, but our answers seemed just as likely as the actual definition (probably because it's not really part of our lexicon, like, at all).

PS. Rachel said she thought it meant a person with four legs. Ha. Nope.
* We also recently watched Loving, which was also pretty good.

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