Hard question of the weekend

Tom Gilson asks:

Is Jabberwocky the best nonsense poem in the English language? If not, then in what language is it the best nonsense?

It’s a brilliant question, and got me wondering if Jabberwocky could even be translated into any other language and still make sense – or nonsense?

3 thoughts on “Hard question of the weekend”

  1. Ah, but the problem with translation, especially of poetry, is that you no longer have the original. This would be absolutely true for a poem, like Jabberwocky, that has no “meaning” beyond the grammatical cues inherent in the language in which it was originally written. Jabberwocky simply cannot be translated; it can only be imitated.

  2. Wouldn’t you know, someone posted a link on Gilson’s site to a place with a number of translations. Weird. Not that I can actually read any other languages, but of the ones I looked at, a Swedish translation at least sounds entertaining:

    Vid grilltock när de smiga gropp
    de snuck och spack på visotass.
    Helt jämrig då var skrangelmopp
    och grösen mommande bölsvass.

  3. Jabberwocky depends heavily upon English word endings and order. I vote that I would not “translate” well into romance languages, though I would love to see someone give it a shot in Latin. After all, when it comes right down to it, sola lingua bona est lingua mortua.

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