Do you ever try to talk and it just doesn’t work? I do. I will say something and then realize that what I just said, wasn’t exactly a language I understand and I just start making noises with my mouth and end with a wry smile, a small nod, and a, “yeah.” Thank goodness for the written word. It’s so much easier to say what you mean, and mean what you say, though those are two entirely different things, when you can go back and edit it all.
One of the many things I love about Lewis Carroll’s work is the language. You might have caught on to the fact that I am a language nerd. I’m a nerd in a lot of ways, but I really geek out over language.
I remember reading the Ultimate Unofficial Guide to the Mysteries of Harry Potter (highly recommended) when I was in high school and learning about Lewis Carroll’s use of portmanteaus. These and other word tricks are especially stunning in the piece “Jabberwocky.” No, not the awesome dance crew, but that is something else I need to introduce to my young hip hop students. They didn’t know who Twitch was and had no idea what popping was (we’re learning to hit right now), so they got to watch Step Up 3 clips in class last week. 😀 But I digress.
No, I mean the beautiful poem found by Alice in Looking Glass Land. The place where everything is backwards.
Here are some examples of the portmanteaus found in “Jabberwocky”:
Slithy – slimy and lithe
Mimsy – flimsy and miserable
Galumphing – galloping and triumphant
Frumious – furious and fuming
Frabjous – fabulous, joyous, and fair
Much like things in the real world, at first glance these words might not make sense, but upon further inspection they are brimming with meaning. Why use one word when you can squish two or three together and really get at the essence of the thing?
I just love language. Callooh! Callay! That’s all I’ve to say.