And climb the stairs to the beach...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Morning Folks 10 05 05

Melinda left a challenge for me on yesterday's blog to find old words with new meanings. Believe it or not, there is a word for that!

ne·ol·o·gism (nē-ŏl'ə-jĭz'əm)
n. A new word, expression, or usage.

A good example of this would be from the high tech world is 'mouse'.

And from literature Catch-22

or Big Brother and Orwellian are good examples.

But a neologism can also be a new word, not necessarily an old word with a new usage. It is said that Lewis Carroll's The Jabberwocky is the grandaddy of neologisms.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the 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.

A few words that Carroll invented in this poem (such as "chortled" and "galumphing") have entered the language. The word jabberwocky itself is sometimes used to refer to nonsense language.

Bandersnatch – A swift moving creature with snapping jaws. Capable of extending its neck. (From The Hunting of the Snark.)
Borogove – A thin shabby-looking bird with its feathers sticking out all round, something like a live mop.
Brillig – Four o'clock in the afternoon: the time when you begin broiling things for dinner. (According to Mischmasch, it is derived from the verb to bryl or broil.)
Burbled – Possibly a mixture of "bleat", "murmur", and "warble". (according to Carroll in a letter [1]). (Burble is an actual word, circa 1303, meaning to form bubbles as in boiling water.)
Frumious – Combination of "fuming" and "furious." (From the Preface to The Hunting of the Snark.)
Gimble – To make holes like a gimlet.
Gyre – To go round and round like a gyroscope. (Gyre is an actual word, circa 1566, meaning a circular or spiral motion or form; especially a giant circular oceanic surface current.)
Jubjub – A desperate bird that lives in perpetual passion. (From The Hunting of the Snark.)
Mimsy – Combination of "flimsy" and "miserable."
Mome – Possibly short for "from home," meaning that the raths had lost their way.
Outgrabe – Something between bellowing and whistling, with a kind of sneeze in the middle.
Rath – A sort of green pig.
Slithy – Combination of "lithe" and "slimy."
Toves – A combination of a badger, a lizard, and a corkscrew. They are very curious looking creatures which make their nests under sundials. They live on cheese. Uffish – A state of mind when the voice is gruffish, the manner roughish, and the temper huffish. (according to Carroll in a letter).
Wabe – The grass plot around a sundial. It is called a "wabe" because it goes a long way before it, and a long way behind it, and a long way beyond it on each side.

In the Preface to The Hunting of the Snark, Carroll wrote:

[Let] me take this opportunity of answering a question that has often been asked me, how to pronounce "slithy toves." The "i" in "slithy" is long, as in "writhe"; and "toves" is pronounced so as to rhyme with "groves." Again, the first "o" in "borogoves" is pronounced like the "o" in "borrow." I have heard people try to give it the sound of the "o" in "worry." Such is Human Perversity.

Very strange. Have a great Wednesday and do look out for those slithy toves.

Love, Suz

1 comment:

  1. Great blog, wise and wonderful word wizzard!


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