Saturday, December 28, 2013

Iubervox: a Latin Translation of Jabberwocky

Jabberwocky is the sort of poem that you can't help but love. It is a euphonic admixture of sense and nonsense, meaning and absurdity. One cannot help but get the impression that it is intelligible, and yet many of the words, especially the first stanza, are only real-sounding, and not true words (though since its writing, some have become bona fide English). The poem was a central element in Lewis Carroll's amazing work Through the Looking-Glass. Due to its uniqueness and playful nature, as well as its unorthodox vocabulary, it has been translated into many languages, including several renditions in Latin. I had seen these and was disappointed in them for several reasons:
  1. Most do not rhyme 
  2. Many follow ancient metrical conventions and not modern ones.
  3. Many stray too far from the original in terms of word sounds and meaning.
  4. Many do not even attempt to suggest etymologies for their neologisms, and many of these are not similar to the original words in sound, meaning and etymology (and some don't sound like Latin at all).
I therefore decided to write my own, in which I try to correct for these errors and even give proposed etymologies of my own. The following is the finished result.


A Luviso Carollo
Latinatum a Nadavo Cravito

Proligrium1, slemti2 torveri3              
In ubere4 gyrant5, egillant6:              
Plene minstei7 boregoveri8,            
Et momei9 rathmoi10 ecrepant11.                    

“Iubervocem12, mi fili, cave!            
Ungues capiunt, mordent fauces                    
Cave aves Iubiubes13, fuge                
fremiosos14 ducraptores15.”              

Tractat gladium vorpalem16:
longe manschomenum17 persequens –
Cessat prope Tumtum18 arborem
Diu ibi stat cogitans.

Ac dum stat hupice19 cogitans,
Iubervox oculis ignis cum
Per silvam tel’gam20 venit hifflans21,
Barbarillat22 venit dum.

Semel bis! semel bis! Per perque
Snix-snacem23 dat vorpal ferrum.
Abit mortuum, cum capite,
Calamferens24 venit rursum.

“Iubervocem cecederasne?
Radiacule25, i amplexum!
Dies frebiovus26! Calheu, c’lhae27!”
Cachinillat28 ob gaudium.

Proligrium, slemti torveri                  
In ubere gyrant, egillant:                  
Plene minstei boregoveri,                  
Et momei rathmoi ecrepant.


By Lewis Carroll

`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, has 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.
1. Proligrium=Snack-time, [>Pro + ligurire]
2. Slemtus=Slimy and calm, [>exlemtus>ex + lim(os)us + lentus]
3. Torverus=Truffle/mushroom-eater, an animal, [>Tubervorus>Tuber + vorus]
4. Uber=Fertile field/soil
5. Gyrare=Spin, revolve, whirl
6. Egillare=Force out/dig/bore a little, [>exigillare, diminutive of exigere]
7. Minsteus=Flimsy and miserable, [>Mistenus>Miser +Tenuis]
8. Boregoverus=Northern gudgeon-eater, [>Boregobivorus>Boreus + Gobius +vorus]
9. Momeus=Ridiculing, critical, grumbling, [>Momus, Greek god of censure, derision]
10. Rathmos=A type of turtle, [>ραθυμος, easy tempered, lazy]
11. Ecrepare=Make chattering/rattling noise, [>ex+crepare]
12. Iubervox=Creature with a great voice, [probably>Iubere+Vox]
13. Iubiub=Large, aggressive species of bird , [imitative of call]
14. Fremiosus=Roaring, [>Fremere]
15. Ducraptor=Predator which seeks the leader of a group, [>Dux+Raptor]
16. Vorpal=Manly, destroying, keen, deadly, [Unknown origin, possibly related to vorax, verpus, orpax or Orpheus]
17. Manschomenus=Maniacal, enraged, mad, [>μηνσχομενος >μηνις+σχομενος (aor. mid. part. of εχω)]
18. Tumtum=species of fruit tree, [Reduplication of Tumor, for its large, swollen fruit]
19. Hypice=Out from under, secretly, [>ύπεκ]
20. Tel’gus=Telaugus=Far-shining, conspicuous, [>τηλαυγης]
21. Hifflare=Breathe heavily/noisily, [>Hiare+Flare]
22. Barbarillare=Speak gibberish, babble, [Diminutive or barbarire]
23. Snix-snax=Swishing, cutting, hitting sound, [Imitative]
24. Calamferre=Be victorious, bear symbols of victory, bear pikes/reeds [Calam+ferre>καλαμηϕορος]
25. Radiaculus=Shining slightly, smiling, happy [Diminutive noun form of Radiare]
26. Frebiovus=Worthy of praise, celebratory, to be honored/celebrated [>Fere+bis+Iovis, literally, nearly twice Jove]
27. Calheu/Calhae=Cries of joy/laughter [Unknown origin, possibly imitative or καλη+heu/hae]
28. Cachinillare=Chuckle, laugh a little [Diminutive of Cachinnare]


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