Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Jabberwocky

For this, my third year doing the challenge, I am going literary. For every letter of the alphabet I will talk about a book, an author or a character from fiction or myth that made an impression, was inspirational, or caused me to think.

It was this picture that first captured my attention. I mean, really, what kind of ferocious monster wears a vest? Still, it was a wonderfully frightening image that I stared at...a lot.
Then I became fascinated by the nonsense words of the poem. They are just so...frabjous.

In high school, probably for extra credit in an English class, I worked up an illustrated dictionary of all the words, making up my own definitions. This was looooooong before Wikipedia  offered these explanations.

Eventually I realized some words we now use were coined by Carroll, which made me want to coin my own words.

I'm still on the hunt for a good neuter pronoun so we don't have to go through politically correct contortions in our writing. We are no longer supposed to use the universal "he" to designate mankind...err, humankind...err, personkind? Human does have the word man in it after all. (Lord help me, what are we going to to with the word woman?)

Anyway, I as a writer am now saddled with having to throw in the occasional “her” or the awkward he/she or him/her or his/hers, or the rather formal, “one.”

How about shim and sher?

Maybe we need to get totally away from any reconstruction of those old sexist pronouns. Maybe we need to coin a completely new word. Maybe something like, uni/unis, (singular and plural) which implies unity, oneness (ha, ha!) or could be short for unit.

Let’s try them out in a few sentences.

Shim that findeth sher life shall lose it: and shim that loseth sher life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 11:7

Greater love has no person than this, that a person lay down uni life for uni friends. John 14:47

Hmmm. Those writers just didn’t get it right. And what about Spanish! My word, everything is either masculine or feminine. It must be reconstructed or abolished. Certainly, in this politically correct era, it cannot continue to exist in its present form. It is entirely too sexist.

And all this comes from first being fascinated by a picture in book.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
   Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
   And mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
   The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
   The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
   Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
   And burbled as it came!

One two! One two! And through and through
   The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
   He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
   Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
   He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
   Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
   And the mome raths outgrabe.

Got a favorite Jabberwocky word? Galumphing and chortle are mine. So descriptive.

J is for Jabberwocky  Other J influences: The Jungle Book, Jimgrim (a character of Talbot Mundy's), The Junior Classics in ten volumes.


  1. Hi Bish .. I love the Jabberwocky poem .. and the illustrations .. great that you've printed it out here - to have that imagination would be wonderful.

    Galumphing hefferlump we used to use .. and chortle is a favourite word now-a-days ..

    I've just used demesne, machicolated and ashlar .. demesne is ok .. the others were new to me ..

    Cheers Hilary

  2. Jabberwocky is awesome! I had a game I played with my homeschool journalism students using this fun poem. The words galumphing and chortle are very descriptive. And fun to say. You know I love words that make me giggle when I say them, fellow Islandia pal!

    Frabjous and snicker-snack are mine.

  3. Love this post, Bish! You had me hooked at "...what kind of ferocious monster wears a vest?"

    And I agree that we could use a good neuter pronoun. That him/her, he/she stuff is so clunky.

  4. I used to have this entire thing memorized, but sadly I've lost it. It's one of the best things ever written in my opinion. Next to Joss Whedon and JK Rowling, Lewis Carroll is my idol.

  5. My first exposure to that word was from Monty Python's movie of the same name. Therefore I can't help but associate humor with it! :)

  6. Agree with DL. Think it was a cartoon as well.

  7. Well done for J. I had forgotten this word. Thanks for reminding me.

  8. lol at shim and sher. I approve.

    And I love the Jabberwocky too! Such a cool name.

  9. It's been years since I read that...thanks for the reminder of the silly genius of it!

  10. I'm kind of liking: "Came whiffling through the tulgey wood"
    Tulgey...that word just begs to be repeated. Tulgey, tulgey, tulgey. Yep.

  11. Shim and sher? Interesting. : )



Your Random Thoughts are most welcome!