Saturday, October 17, 2009


Last night as I was going to sleep, quite without me being able to do anything about it, the poem written by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass about the Jabberwock came to mind. I found myself straining to remember what the poem was, and for some reason I could remember the whole first stanza, and then some:
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Do you do strange things with your brain like that? So of course, this morning I googled "jabberwocky" and have been on quite a strange journey ever since. According to Wikipedia, this poem made of nonsense and portmanteau words is considered to be one of the greatest nonsense poems ever written in the English language. In fact, two of the words he came up with have entered the language: chortle and galumph.

And of course I was fascinated by the definition of portmanteau. It is exactly what the name of my blog is, after all: a combination of my name (DJan) with the "ity" word of your choice. I actually think of it being "insanity" but it could also be "sanity" or some other word I haven't thought of yet. Some well-known examples of portmanteau words are "wordplay" (the name of this post), "chocoholic" and "wikipedia," to name a few. Each of the links takes you to the Wikipedia description, which I found to be quite entertaining.

I also remembered the whole Humpty Dumpty conversation, once I got started with this line of thought, that Alice had with Humpty. Do you remember? He discusses semantics and pragmatics with Alice. Their conversation has been used to justify lines of thought in more than 250 legal cases, two of them before the Supreme Court. This link will take you to the conversation, if you have the interest.

Language is so much fun! And to find out how completely taken I was with Lewis Carroll's book, I discovered during my journey this morning that I had already made a post way back in March about another character in the Looking Glass: The Walrus. In re-reading the post all these months later, I found that it was another time that I was just beginning to fall into sleep that I thought of that poem.

I suppose this means it's time for me to re-read Through the Looking Glass, don't you think? For those who are interested in the entire poem, the first link in this post will take you there. I thought about putting it in here, but I find the posts I enjoy the most are not terribly long and leave the details to the reader to explore further.


  1. Very interesting! It scares me sometimes how my brain works, especially when I'm lying in bed!

  2. One of my all-time favorite poems, to be sure!!! Thanks for this wonderfully, informative post! ~Janine XO

  3. I've been D-janned yet again. By enjoying another blog post.

  4. My braon goes places when I am laying in bed, that I didn't know existed. Great post.

  5. What a happenstance I was also browsing for poems last night and I was fascinated by some. I have never been interested with poems but I love classic novels.

    Jabberwocky I think is a monster? Correct me if I am wrong.

    Take care DJanity

  6. Hey DJ...I just wanted to tell you that I thank you sooooo much for the vote. Love ya!


  7. Now that's too much of a coincidence, what you ask? Well, last night, my middle son's wife had a 30th birthday party. The theme? Alice in Wonderland. Everyone had to dress up as a character from Alice. I had made my outfit, but I wasn't well and couldn't go. What a waste of a costume: still, it wasn't that good. Anyhow, I think the part was well attended and he will be posting some pictures of it in his Facebook page soon, so I'll pinch some of them for my Blog and let you'all see the costumes. They were very inventive, from what I have heard.
    I love the ideas in Lewis Carroll's work. I love the idea of falling down a rabbit hole and finding oneself in another world.
    Blessings, Star

  8. Interesting post again!I also like "brothers & sisters"by the same poet,quite funny.Try poet,there's lots on that site.

  9. Well the problem of having not been brought up in the US or England is that my childhood books were all in French, so I cannot comment on the funny language you show. I was surprised about the portmanteau bit because I had never heard this definition. It is a French word since “manteau” is the word for “coat.” In French though we add an “e” – portemanteau. In the dictionary it says that a portemanteau is a support to suspend your clothes and translated it is a coat-rack or coat stand. But looking in the dictionary further I see that the English meaning of portmanteau is in French “mot valise” or luggage word which is what you mean I guess. I learned something new again on your blog.

  10. Obviously your brain has a wonderful memory for literature! I do think of funny things in bed at night, but you really have the best thoughts! :-}

  11. While Alice was fun in wonderland, my favorite Carroll work has always been Through the Looking Glass. I first read it when I was in the fifth grade and a copy is on my book shelf.

    My favorite part was The Walrus and the Carpenter.

    By the way, my computer connection is all better now, I have a brand new modem and it is behaving way better than the old one. Now I just have to get caught up on my reading.


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