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Re: Nonsense Words

From:Tim May <butsuri@...>
Date:Sunday, December 12, 2004, 2:37
Roger Mills wrote at 2004-12-11 12:20:03 (-0500)
 > Arthaey Angosii wrote:
 > > In getting my computerized lexicon up-to-date (I've past 900
 > > words online now!), I came across my half-finished translation of
 > > Jabberwocky. I'm having a minor crisis deciding whether the
 > > "nonsense" words belong in my lexicon. At the very least, I'll
 > > need to document these words *somewhere*, just to make sure I
 > > don't coin "real" words and make them non-nonsense, but I don't
 > > know that they belong in the official dictionary.
 > >
 > > Has anyone else dealt with this? Opinions?
 > >
 > Jabberwocky of course is a special case, but....  My thought would
 > be (1) to put them in a separate section-- perhaps for loanwords
 > used only in specific contexts (??) or (2) leave them out, but keep
 > a private list in a file somewhere.
 > I suppose in translating Jabberwocky, you used native (Asha'ille)
 > resources to create the nonsense. Some of the portmanteau words
 > could certainly be compounds of native elements, and
 > explicable. But what native words could underlie "toves", or "mome
 > raths outgrabe" etc. We aren't even sure what they mean in
 > "English". These would indeed be nonsense created for...what?  just
 > to sound funny? to fit the metre? to match the rhyme? Unless
 > there's a native tradition of nonsense poetry, IMO they don't
 > belong in the dictionary. (Are J. words in any English dictionary?
 > ...not in my Shorter OED...)

"Chortle" and "galumph" have entered the wider language to a
sufficient extent that they're in the dictionary.  "Burble" has an
older etymology listed, but I suspect Carroll made it up
independently, and played a significant role in establishing its
present place in the language.  Quite how this relates to conlangs I'm
not sure, but it's worth bearing in mind that the boundary between
nonsense and real words is not absolutely impermeable.

(We have a reasonably good idea of what most of the words in the first
stanza mean, as Humpty-Dumpty explains them to Alice in _Through the
Looking Glass_ Dumpty.pdf

Carroll explained some of the other words elsewhere:

Of course, even if you had exact equivalents in the target language
(which seems unlikely), to translate the poem without creative
wordplay would be to miss the point. )