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?
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.
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:
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.