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?

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3 Responses to Hard question of the weekend

  1. Quixote says:

    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. me says:

    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. Quixote says:

    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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