Various Translations of Jabberwocky

German: Der Jammerwoch by Robert Scott

Es brillig war. Die schlichte Toven
Wirrten und wimmelten in Waben;
Und aller-mümsige Burggoven
Die mohmen Räth' ausgraben.

»Bewahre doch vor Jammerwoch!
Die Zähne knirschen, Krallen kratzen!
Bewahr' vor Jubjub-Vogel, vor
Frumiösen Banderschntzchen!«

Er griff sein vorpals Schwertchen zu,
Er suchte lang das manchsan' Ding;
Dann, stehend unterm Tumtum Baum,
Er an-zu-denken-fing.

Als stand er tief in Andacht auf,
Des Jammerwochen's Augen-feuer
Durch tulgen Wald mit Wiffek kam
Ein burbelnd Ungeheuer!

Eins, Zwei! Eins, Zwei! Und durch und durch
Sein vorpals Schwert zerschnifer-schnück,
Da blieb es todt! Er, Kopf in Hand,
Geläumfig zog zurück.

»Und schlugst Du ja den Jammerwoch?
Umarme mich, mien Böhm'sches Kind!
O Freuden-Tag! O Halloo-Schlag!«
Er schortelt froh-gesinnt.

Es brillig war. Die schlichte Toven
Wirrten und wimmelten in Waben;
Und aller-mümsige Burggoven
Die mohmen Räth' ausgraben.

Latin: Gaberbocchus by Hassard H. Dogson

Hora aderat briligi. Nunc et Slythia Tova
Plurima gyrabant gymbolitare vabo;
Et Borogovorum mimzebant undique formae,
Momiferique omnes exgrabure Rathi.

"Cave, Gaberbocchum moneo tibi, nate cavendum
(Unguibus ille rapit. Dentibus ille necat.)
Et fuge Jubbubum, quo non infestior ales,
Et Bandersnatcham, quae fremit usque, cave."

Ille autem gladium vorpalem cepit, et hostem
Manxonium long sedulitate petit;
Tum sub tumtummi requiescens arboris umbr
Stabat tranquillus, multa animo meditans.

Dum requiescebat meditans uffishia, monstrum
Praesens ecce! oculis cui fera flamma micat,
Ipse Gaberbocchus dumeta per horrida sifflans
Ibat, et horrendum burbuliabat iens!

Ter, quater, atque iterum cito vorpalissimus ensis
Snicsnaccans penitus viscera dissecuit.
Exanimum corpus linquens caput abstulit heros
Quocum galumphat multa, domumque redit.

"Tune Gaberbocchum potuisti, nate, necare?
Bemiscens puer! ad brachia nostra veni.
Oh! frabiusce dies! iterumque caloque calque
Laetus eo" ut chortlet chortla superba senex.

Hora aderat briligi. Nunc et Slythia Tova
Plurima gyrabant gymbolitare vabo;
Et Borogovorum mimzebant undique formae,
Momiferique omnes exgrabure Rathi.

French: Le Jaseroque by Frank L. Warrin

Il brilgue: les tôves lubricilleux
Se gyrent en vrillant dans le guave.
Enmîmés sont les gougebosqueux
Et le mômerade horsgrave.

«Garde-toi du Jaseroque, mon fils!
La gueule qui mord; la griffe qui prend!
Garde-toi de l'oiseau Jube, évite
Le frumieux Band-à-prend!»

Son glaive vorpal en main il va-
T-à la recherche du fauve manscant;
Puis arrivé à l'arbre Té-Té,
Il y reste, réfléchissant.

Pendant qu'il pense, tout uffusé,
Le Jaseroque, à l'oeil flambant,
Vient siblant par le bois tullegeais,
Et burbule en venant.

Un deux, un deux, par le milieu,
Le glaive vorpal fait pat-à-pan!
La bête défaite, avec sa tête,
Il rentre gallomphant.

«As-tu tué le Jaseroque?
Viens à mon coeur, fils rayonnais!
Ô Jour frabbejeais! Calleau! Callai!»
Il cortule dans sa joie.

Il brilgue: les tôves lubricilleux
Se gyrent en vrillant dans le guave.
Enmîmés sont les gougebosqueux
Et le mômerade horsgrave.

Spanish: Chacaloco by Erwin Brea

'Era brilligio, y los rebalosioso mocasos
Giraban y Girareon en las ondabolsciabo:
Todo debilirana estaban las ramianandos
Y los momiasera ratianeras fuerandabando.

"Tenga cuidadao del Chacaloco, mi hijo!
La quijadas que muerden, las garras que cojen!
Tenga cuidado del Jubojubo - ese monstro pajaro
y evite el furiaboso murcielageren!"

El cogió su voraciabada espada en la mano:
Mucho tiempo el manfiamado adversario busco--
Asi descanzó por el arbol Tumtumano
Y se paró un tiempo en pensamiento.

Y, como en pensamiento estaba parado,
El Chacaloco, con ojos de llama,
vino pistandabondo por la selva disturbiamoso.
Y orrutabilaba como venia!

Uno dos! Uno dos! Y a traves, a traves
la voraciabada espada fue 'snecke-snak!'
El lo dejó muerto, y con la cabeza
El se fue gallardio para atrás.

"Y has matado usted el Chacaloco?
Venga a mis brazos, mi bellariazon hijo!
O fantilimandeza dia! Callaya! Calluso!"
El sotociamanado en su alegria.

'Era brilligio, y los rebalosioso mocasos
Giraban y Girareon en las ondabolsciabo:
Todo debilirana estaban las ramianandos
Y los momiasera ratianeras fuerandabando.

Interesting in the "translation" of Jabberwocky is the great variation to be found in the different versions, of course because it's nearly impossible to translate nonsense words.

For an example, let's look at some Dutch translations. They're particularly notable, given that the Dutch language is very closly related to English, and so one can find some similarities in words (such as "borogorfs" in the second translation) in some translations but not in others.


Wauwelwok (1947)
by Alfred Kossmann and C. Reedijk

't Wier bradig, en de spiramants
Bedroorden slendig in het zwiets:
Hoe klarm waren de ooiefants,
Bij 't bluifen der beriets.

Pas op de Wauwelwok, mijn kind!
Zo scherp getand, van klauw zo wreed!
Zorg dat Tsjoep-Tsjoep je nimmer vindt,
Vermijd de Barbeleet.

Hij nam zijn gnijpend zwaard ter hand:
Lang zocht hij naar den aarts-schavoest
Maar nam rust in lommers lust
Op een tumtumboomknoest.

En toen hij zat in diep gedenk,
Kwam Wauwelwok met vlammend oog,
Dwars door het bos met zwalpse zwenk,
Sluw borbelend wijl hij vloog.

Eén, twee! Hup twee. En door en door
Ging kler de kling toen krissekruis.
Hij sloeg hem dood en blodd'rig rood
Bracht hij het tronie thuis.

Hebt gij versnaggeld Wauwelwok?
Kom aan mijn hart, o jokkejeugd!
O, heerlijkheid, fantabeltijd!
Hij knorkelde van vreugd.

't Wier bradig, en de spiramants
Bedroorden slendig in het zwiets:
Hoe klarm waren de ooiefants,
Bij 't bluifen der beriets.


De Krakelwok (1982)
by Ab Westervaarder and René Kurpershoek

't Was bradig en de slijp'le torfs
Driltolden op de wijde weep:
Misbrozig stonden borogorfs,
't Verdoolde grasvark schreep.

'Mijn zoon, vrees de Krakelwok!
Zijn kakement, zijn grepe klauw!
Vrees ook de Jubjub-vlerkenbrok,
De gritse Bandjegauw!'

Hij nam 't vorpalen zwaard ter hand:
Lang zocht hij naar het manxaam vod--
Toen, rustend bij de Ploemploemplant,
Bepeinsde hij zijn lot.

Zo, nijvig peinzend, stond hij daar,
Toen Krakelwok, zijn oog vol vlam,
Door het rapuinhout blaaide, zwaar
Burbelend waar hij kwam!

Hup één! Hup twee! Het scherp vorpaal
Hieuw kriskras en met luid gedruis!
Het beest lag dood; hij, galomfaal,
Reed met de kop naar huis.

'Hebt gij de Krakelwok geveld?
O heugle dag! Hoezee! Hoezot!
Omhels mij, zoonlief, brale held!'
Hij gnorde van genot.

't Was bradig en de slijp'le torfs
Driltolden op de wijde weep:
Misbrozig stonden borogorfs,
't Verdoolde grasvark schreep.


Koeterwaal (1994)
by Nicolaas Matsier

Het schiewert en de glappe muik
Graffelt zich in de vijchten
Maar heel sloef was de rontelguik,
En strave woelen krijgten.

'Hoed voor de Koeterwaal je, zoon!
Zijn scherp gebit, zijn reuzenzwaai!
Vermijd het Dubdubdier, verschoon
De glurieuze Beffesnaai!'

Hij nam zijn worpel zwaard ter hand
En speurde bij de Plingplongboom,
Maar niemand bood hem tegenstand,
En zo stond hij in kroom.

In ruffig denken trof hem daar
De Koeterwaal, met vlammend oog,
Die zwingend door het groene vlaar
Hem worvelend bevloog.

Daar ging zijn zwaard: van hup en hop,
Van zig en zag en zoef!
Dood bleef het monster--en de kop
Keek wel een beetje droef.

'Is hij ontzield, de Koeterwaal?
Werp aan mijn borst u, lieve deugd!
O kostbaarlijke dag! Kaneel! Kanaal!'
Hij gnuivelde van vreugd.

Het schiewert en de glappe muik
Graffelt zich in de vijchten
Maar heel sloef was de rontelguik,
En strave woelen krijgten.


Source: http://www.waxdog.com/jabberwocky/translate.html

I have seen several Chinese translations of Jabberwocky, the following is the only version available on the internet. Compared with the printed versions, this translation is rather uninteresting. But the printed versions tried to imitate Jabberwocky by using made-up Chinese characters, which are impossible to reproduce here as far as I know. Probably that's why they are not seen on the internet...

The text below are written in Simplified Chinese.
Source: Through the Looking Glass (Chinese version), translated by Mingfei Zhao. You can find a copy at http://www.sdau.edu.cn/e-book/child/alice/ if you are interested.

蛟龙杰伯沃基就诛记

风怒兮阴霾满空,
滚滚兮布于四方,
雾霭笼罩兮翻腾,
怒号兮直达上苍。

切切在意兮吾子,
其齿将啮兮其爪尖利,
加布加布鸟名怒者潘达斯奈基,
与其一体尤须防避。

线刀在手兮,
殊死之战乃彼所求。
倚身于达姆丹姆之树兮,
作战前之小休。

沉湎于冥思兮蚊龙乃出,
彼名杰伯沃基兮其目喷焰。
狂飙起兮彼出于丛林,
凛凛然兮天地为之抖颤。

挥刀而斩兮殊死之斗,
利刃闪闪兮直贯其首。
弃其尸于野兮凯歌高奏,
勇士归兮手提其头。

投身于吾怀兮勇哉吾子,
杰伯沃基乃汝所诛。
荣哉此时兮万岁.万岁!
彼拥其子而欢呼。

风怒兮阴霾满空,
滚滚兮布于西方。
雾霭范卓兮翻腾,
怒号兮直达上苍。

It is unfortunate that people in today's world do not realize the rich artistry of the warrior's song that Lewis Carroll translated this from. As with many authors, they have consciously or unconsciously borrowed from the rich fabric of Klingon culture.

The tale of the Jabberwock is an ancient Klingon tale of a warrior and a fearsome beast (the "ja'pu'vawq").

This song is typically sung (chon bom (chon meaning hunt and bom meaning song)) at 'uQ'a' (those are breath marks) meaning a great ('a') dinner ('uQ). In all likelihood, Lewis Carroll attended one of these feasts and transcribed the song claiming it as his own. When he failed at capturing the true essence of a word he made one up.


'uQ poHvIS char Hom.
It was dinner time while the skinny things were slimy

'uQ (as mentioned above) refers to dinner. The Klingons have four meals in a day - the three we are familiar with and a midnight snack (which is more than just a 'snack').

The verb poH can also be used as a noun - referring to a period of time. Combined with the relative clause verb suffix "vIS it means 'the time while'.

Hom is the ultimate subject of the sentence and is a slang term for "skinny one" or "runt". This term comes from the meaning of 'bone' that Hom typically refers to - in English we think "skin and bones".

char is simply to be slimy. There are a great deal of slimy things in Klingon language - most of them dealing with types of food. In this case it means general slimy rather than any particular thing (such as bile).

yIv bIH HuD retlhDaq
They where being annoying in the area beside the hill.

yIv is the slang term for 'to bother and irk'. For the most part, things that dig in the ground are just annoying. This word comes from the term 'chew'.

Klingon language makes a distinction between things that can speak and those that cannot. In this case, the pronoun bIH is a "they (without language)" referring to the subject of the previous statement.

Hud retlhDaq means the area beside the hill. This is composed of two nouns: Hud (hill) and retlh (beside). The suffix Daq is applied to the second to indicate that the location is related to the other.

QuchHa' qaryoqpu' 'ej
The parrots were unhappy and...

Failing to find a the word for qaryoq Lewis made up the borogoves. These birds that are similar to the parrots Terrans are familiar with in that they can imitate speech. Again the use of language factors in here and the original poet chose to use -pu' on a whim indicating that the parrot can use language. Others use -mey to pluralize - both are accepted.

Much in the same way 'happy' becomes 'unhappy', Quch becomes QuchHa' meaning unhappy with the addition of the suffix Ha'.

The verse continues to the next line with 'ej which is the sentence joiner rather than the noun joiner much the same way that kai and de are used in ancient Greek (see John 1 for an example).

jachtaH nagh Dir ghajwI'
Those with shells were howling.

jach has a wide range of meanings though implies a general loud noise to alarm. The addition of the verb suffix taH says that this was happening fairly consistently.

There is no word for 'turtle' in Klingon but rather they are described. nagh DIr literally means stone skin. Coupled with ghaj meaning to have with the wI' suffix which means one who is we get the total package: one who has a shell.


puqloDwI' ja'pu'vawq Dayep
my son, you be careful of the Jabberwock

puqloD is a compound word made up of puq (child) and loD (male). Appended on to this is the noun suffix wI' (which differs from the verb suffix used above) meaning "my (thing able to use language)".

Lewis was un-original translating ja'pu'vawq into Jabberwock - almost an exact sound by sound translation. However, the English speaking Terrans are not fond of the hard breath mark in the middle of words and so translated this as the bilabial stop (in this case the voiced version).

Dayep is built from the verb stem yep meaning to be careful and has the verb prefix Da which means the subject is you and the object is it (in this case, the ja'pu'vawq).

pe'vIl chop Ho'Du'Daj; pe'vIl Suq pachDu'Daj
Its teeth bite with force; Its claws grab with force

Both of these sentences take the same form: adverb verb subject.

The adverb in each case is pe'vIl meaning with force or forcefully. This is not just something that has teeth that bite or claws that grab - its got some muscle behind it.

In each case the verb is simple: chop meaning to bite (another example of English borrowing from Klingon) and Suq means to get or acquire.

Likewise, the nouns (Ho' meaning tooth and pach meaning claw) have the same endings. The first of these is Du' which is a plural body part and Daj meaning its. Ho'Du' can also be misstranslated as "tooth farm", and while its not the right meaning it quite colorful in its description.

qa'rol yIyep.
You (imperative) be careful of the big black bird

Here, we have the prime example of Lewis Carroll (actually named Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) borrowing from Klingon - his very name is that of the Juju bird.

Above the form was Dayep, here it is yIyep. In this case, the imperative form is used - otherwise they are identical. This might instead be an indication that Lewis missed advising Klingons to stay away from him for stealing their songs and passing them off as his own poetry.

bInDepSuHach QeHwI' Daghombe'
Do not meet the angry bandersnatch

Once again, Lewis fails to choose a new word and simply translates the name of the vicious bInDepSuHach into English.

QeH means to be angry and once again the verb suffix wI' is tacked on to indicate one who is.

The verb has the stem ghom which means meet (in the noun form it means group, party, gang, band). Once again the verb imperative form of the verb prefix Da with the subject of you and object of it is placed before the verb. The suffix be' is used (again) to indicate a negation - "You do not meet it" as a command.


batlh'etlhDaj QachbeHchoH
He made ready his sword

Here we have a prime example of the simple and elegant nature of the Klingon language.

batlh'ethlh is the proper word meaning sword of honor and has its roots traced back to the original word betleH. This is often seen simplified to as bat'leth. Carroll saw one of these great blades and called it a vorpal sword.

Qach means to wield a weapon and the suffixes beH (ready an object) and choH (change of state) show this readiness.

nI'vIS jagh HoSbogh nej
For a long while, he sought for the enemy which was strong.

There are a total of two relative clauses within this sentence. The first is simply nI'vIS which is composed of the verb nI' for "be long" and the suffix vIS meaning while.

The second is found as the object. This phrase has the noun jagh meaning enemy and the verb HoS meaning "be strong". To the end of the verb the suffix bogh is appended which marks this as a relative clause.

Finally the verb of the sentence - nej meaning to seek or search for. The "he" subject and "it" object are implied in the null prefix.

Sor retlhDaq leS 'ej
The area beside a tree he relaxed and...

This construct we have seen before with Sor meaning tree followed by retlhDaq meaning the area beside.

leS is to relax or rest.

Once again the sentence continues on to the next line with 'ej for "and..."

Qam 'ej QublI'
He stood and thought

Qam means to stand. Another 'ej follows to the verb Qub meaning to think with the suffix lI' implying in progress with an ending (as opposed to taH meaning without end).


yay' 'ej Qamrup
shocked, he stood - made ready

yay' is a simple verb meaning "be shocked" or "dumbfounded". Qam in the line before meaning to stand. With the suffix rup this implies that he stood (while he was not quite standing before).

QeH mInDu'Daj ja'pu'vawq; qul rur
With eyes of angry fire - the Jabberwock

The Klingon language with its affinity for story telling (such as this) makes great use of smilies. The most well known of these are bIr; bortaS rur (cold as revenge), puj; bIQ rur (weak as water), HoS; 'Iw rur (strong as blood) and 'oj; bomwI' rur (thirsty as a bard). Here, the verb rur means to resemble and implies a linkage between the first and the second phrase.

QeH means "be angry" and is the basis of the similarity. Following this is mIn (eye) Du' (plural body part) Daj (its). Then the mentioning of the ja'pu'vawq to indicate what these belong to.

qul is a noun meaning fire which the eyes are compared to.

ngemDaq veghbe' 'oH 'ej
Barging through the forest it came and...

ngemDaq uses the now familiar locative noun suffix on the noun ngem meaning forest. vegh means to pass through without touching which is negated with the be' verb suffix.

The pronoun 'oH is used to indicate what is doing this - not the thing with language (ghaH meaning he/she, him/her).

boltaH 'oH
It drooled.

bol is to drool, and it ('oH) did this constantly (taH).


jIrmoH! ngol! lev! Jop! vay!
This is a description (obviously shortened) of the battle - a vay meaning a battle of medium ferocity (the Klingons have five words for battle.) from least to greatest:
  1. tlhaS
  2. Qor
  3. vay
  4. lul
  5. Hargh

The terms first four terms are moves with a bat'leth

mongDaj wItlh Sub
The hero broke its neck

The famous "snicker-snack" is the sound of a neck snapping.

The word for neck is mong which takes the suffix Daj meaning its. The verb wItlh means to break something in such a way that there are now two (or more) pieces. The subject is Sub meaning hero.

nachDaj yaH 'ej
Its head was taken away and...

nach is the noun meaning "head". yaH means to take away (leaving its body there - apparently this was too much to carry or meant more for honor than for food).

juHDaq chegh
He returned home.

juH means home (the word juHqo' means home planet) and the verb chegh means "to return".


"ja'pu'vawq HoH'a'?
"You killed the Jabberwock?"

The verb HoH means to kill (and is likely one of the most used verbs in the Klingon language). Appended to this verb is the suffix 'a' which turns the verb into a question rather than a statement.

DeSDu'wIj chochegh!
"Come to my arms!"

The closest a Klingon has to the word "hug" or "embrace". The non Des means arm (as in the body part) with Du' appended takes the plural and wIj means my - this is the father speaking.

The verb is once again chegh meaning return, though here the verb prefix cho is used meaning you as the subject and me as the object.

'uQ'a' taH DaHjaj!"
A grand dinner today will be

'uQ is the word for dinner. Appended to a noun 'a' means "big" or "grand".

taH is the Klingon verb meaning "continue". The subject follows DaHjaj. jaj means day as in dawn to dawn. Many speakers of English are confused on this with "day" meaning the time when the sun is up (pem) and a period of 24 hours (or so). Indeed, this feast will last long into the night and likely for days to come.

Hagh vav.
The father laughed

Hagh is the verb for laugh (though realize, this is a Klingon doing it - not your ordinary chuckle, we're talking an all out bellow). vav is the Klingon word for father.

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