[Evertype]  Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There Home

Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

By Lewis Carroll

First edition, 2021. Illustrations by John Tenniel. Dundee: Evertype. ISBN 978-1-78201-255-9.

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“Dinna staan yatter-yatterin tae yoursel like aat,” said Humphy Dumphy, gomin at her for the first time, “but tell me your name an fit ye’re ettlin at here.”    
“My name is Ailice, but—”    
“Fit kinna glaikit name is aat?” Humphy Dumphy interruppit cuttit-like. “Fit dis it mean?”    
“Dis a name hae tae mean somethin?” speirt Ailice doutsome-like.    
“Atweel it maan!” said Humphy Dumphy wi a snirt o a laach. “My name means the shap I am, an a richt braa an bonnie shap it is forbye. Wi a name like yours ye mith be ony shap, aamaist.”    
Humpty Dumpty

For a general introduction to the literary and cultural background of the present translation, and to the North-East Scots dialect itself, see the introduction to my translation of Carroll’s previous book, Ailce’s Anters in Ferlielann. As there, I have used a conservative form of the dialect, checking the words and pronunciations against classic literary texts (and this time also against the earlier translation, to ensure consistency). As there too, I have endeavoured to find a specific equivalent for every joke, pun, allusion and other trick of style in the original. The metrical and rhyme patterns of the poems are maintained: as always in poetic translations of any kind, this procedure necessitates some departures from the original wording; and in one instance, namely the sequence of thirteen rhymes on “toe” in the closing section of the White Knight’s song, I have assumed the licence to treat Carroll’s lines with complete freedom. Puns and other forms of word-play appear at corresponding places to those in the source book: this too necessarily entails departure from the original wording, as in the Midgie’s (Carroll’s Gnat’s) “Somethin about a haverin aiver, ye ken” to replace “Something about ‘horse’ and ‘hoarse’, you know”. Culture-bound allusions are replaced with ones more readily associated with the expected new readership (his Anglo-Saxon messengers with their Anglo-Saxon attitudes becoming Pictish messengers with Pictish poseitions); and a clearly-differentiated speech-form, namely the Clydeside basilect, is again used for characters whose dialogue in the original suggests non-standard English (the Frog in Chapter IX and the Wasp in the “lost” episode).

Those issues were all encountered in translating the earlier book; but Through the Looking-Glass also presents any trans­lator with a dilemma unique to itself: the nonsense words in "Jabberwocky". Surprisingly enough, Scots literature provides something which might fancifully be seen as a precedent of sorts: the novel (if that is what it is) Carotid Cornucopius by Sydney Goodsir Smith. A couple of lines will give the flavour of this very peculiar book:

This skite was a nobbleman and harristocrap, as ye’ll can see by the cannasatisfyarobberearl nummer of his apandozes lokaleasated on baith sods of the frowntear Riever Twaed, baith in Scotland and in the sadjoycent kungkdoom of Wangleland.
Smith’s model, needless to say, is not Carroll but Joyce: nonetheless, his flamboyant experimentation in producing new lexical concoctions which in some cases are visibly derived from existing words and in most cases conform to the familiar patterns of Scots phonology demonstrates beyond cavil that a Scots Jabberwock is possible. As in the original, some words are explained later in the book; but as Carroll left most of his invented words as puzzles for the reader to solve, I have simply followed his example.

As with Ailice’s Anters in Ferlielann, Throwe the Keekin-Gless an Fit Ailice Funn There is offered as a tribute both to the original author and to the translator’s chosen medium and the literary tradition couched in it.

—Derrick McClure


HTML Michael Everson, Evertype, 73 Woodgrove, Portlaoise, R32 ENP6, Ireland, 2009-11-01

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