They are the work of Christian Jackson who, from the bio on his website, sounds like man of many excellent interests: “I enjoy spending long hours staring at typefaces. I dream about kerning, leading and attractive counter spaces. I also like less nerdy stuff like existentialism, meta and quatum physics, the concept of consciousness, infinity, the color orange and a comfortable arm chair with good ass bologna (where your ass sits below you knees).” Posters of his designs can be purchased here.
Enough Un-Anniversaries, July 28th is actually the day Disney’s Alice in Wonderland was released in 1951. To celebrate properly, we’ll re-post from reigning expert Matt Crandall’s excellent Disney Alice blog, vintagedisneyalice.blogspot.com, where he posted today images of a Disney comic book:
Linguists have been ruminating on Humpy Dumpty’s theories for over a century. Now, his discussion about words’ meaning is being used by scientists in conjunction with new studies about an innate connection between sounds and representation. First, take this test and see “If certain sounds really do evoke particular meanings then, given a foreign word and two alternative translations, people should be able to get the correct meaning more often than not.”
Humpty Dumpty and Alice, illustrated by Peter Newell
“It’s a stupid name enough!” Humpty Dumpty interrupted impatiently. “What does it mean?”
“Must a name mean something?” Alice asked doubtfully.
“Of course it must,” Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh: “My name means the shape I am – and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost.”
PURE whimsy, you might think. Nearly 100 years of linguistics research has been based on the assumption that words are just collections of sounds – an agreed acoustic representation that has little to do with their actual meaning. There should be nothing in nonsense words such as “Humpty Dumpty” that would give away the character’s egg-like figure, any more than someone with no knowledge of English could be expected to infer that the word “rose” represents a sweet-smelling flower.
Yet a spate of recent studies challenge this idea. They suggest that we seem instinctively to link certain sounds with particular sensory perceptions. Some words really do evoke Humpty’s “handsome” rotundity. Others might bring to mind a spiky appearance, a bitter taste, or a sense of swift movement. And when you know where to look, these patterns crop up surprisingly often, allowing a monoglot English speaker to understand more Swahili or Japanese than you might imagine (see “Which sounds bigger?” at the bottom of this article). These cross-sensory connections may even open a window onto the first words ever uttered by our ancestors, giving us a glimpse of the earliest language and how it emerged.
Children’s author Lil Chase compiled a list of her favorite made-up words in the Guardian today. What’s interesting is how many of the words, invented fancifully by literary wordsmiths, have simply become normal English words. ‘Muggle,’ from J.K. Rowling, now is used not only to mean “a non-magical person,” but more widely as being a person outside of some specific interest. Lil Chase lists A.A. Milne’s “heffalump,” Orson Welles’ “ungood,” and others, and of course Carroll:
After slaying the terrible Jabberwock, the boy in Lewis Carrol’s poem “left it dead, and with its head / he went galumphing back.” It’s thought to be a combination of the words “gallop” and “triumphant”. However, modern-day usage is different: picture a sort of ungainly, graceless way of walking with difficulty, the gait of a grumpy teenager, perhaps; perhaps how you might walk if you were dragging a giant jabberwock’s head.
My favourite made up word comes from The Simpsons and it describes all of the words above. It’s “a dubious or made up word, term, or phrase that is entirely plausible because it makes logical sense within existing language conventions”. But it’s best defined by simply quoting the script:
As two teachers stand at the back of the auditorium someone recites Springfield’s motto: A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man. Teacher 1:Embiggens? I never heard that word before I moved to Springfield. Teacher 2:I don’t know why. It’s a perfectly cromulent word.
Cromulent is an amazing word. I can’t believe I didn’t know it before. It’s like the word ‘sesquipedalian,’ which is a long word which means “a long word.”
Callooh! Callay!! We are delighted to announce that the LCSNA has just published a frabjous new book paying tribute to the late, great Martin Gardner–columnist, philosopher, polymath, magician, religious thinker, and author of more than 70 books, including the groundbreaking Annotated Alice.
The LCSNA’s beautiful 234-page hardcover is a delightful portmanteau accomplishment, combining entertaining and heartfelt reminiscences from those who knew Gardner with a traditional festschrift (academic essays written in his honor). The book is introduced by Gardner’s son Jim, and includes contributions from such noted authors as Douglas Hofstadter, Morton N. Cohen, Scott Kim, David Singmaster, Michael Patrick Hearn, Raymond Smullyan, and Robin Wilson, to name but a few. Our book also contains Gardner’s own final, post-”Definitive Edition” addenda to his towering Annotated Alice classic, as well as an authoritative bibliography of Gardner’s Carroll-related writings.
A Bouquet for the Gardener is a must-read for anyone who loves Lewis Carroll, puzzles, logic, math, and great thinking on a wide range of topics. Current members of the LCSNA will be mailed one free copy as a bonus of membership. We are thrilled to be able to make this important book available to the public as well via Amazon (US link; UK link). Members can also buy additional copies on Amazon.
Our thanks to all who contributed to this effort, both on the pages and behind the scenes. It is impossible to overstate the debt we all owe to Martin Gardner. We invite you to join us in saying thank you and in celebrating his remarkable life by reading A Bouquet for the Gardener.
This Lewis Carroll-inspired theater installation seems interesting for its interactive aspects and impressive scope. It’s happening in different parks around Seattle during weekends in July and August: today at 4pm in Lake Meridian Park, Kent, WA; July 30th & 31st at 4pm, Bellevue Botanical Gardens, Bellevue, WA; and August 6th at 11:30 & 2:30, Les Gove Park, Auburn, WA. WONDERLAND: Alice Adventures is part of 4Culture’s Site Specific Performance Network. Here’s the blurb from Theater Simple:
A free theatrical park escapade, WONDERLAND is inspired by and adapted from Charles Dodgson’s (Lewis Carroll) Alice stories, as well as Dodgson’s wordplay, math games and puzzles.
An all-ages adventures, theater and visual arts weave whimsically together within a parkland, playing with the creative perspectives of imaginations.
THE GOAL: To look at ideas of PERSPECTIVE, CREATIVITY and PLAY – and have some serious fun.
Who can play? EVERYONE.
FOLLOW White Rabbits!
SEE the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle on the Locks! Dance the Lobster Quadrille!
HEAR the Tweedle twins recite the Walrus and The Carpenter
PLAY GIANT tic tac toe with the White Queen or croquet with the King and Queen of Hearts!
EXPLORE a tiny house and a giant flower garden!
FIND all the riddles and puns stashed around the park!
DRAW what you see, and see what you draw!
And of course, listen to the timeless words of the story, and puzzle your way through the event on your own.
And here’s a nice slideshow of images from the 2010 debut of the project in Seattle’s Botanical Gardens:
How do you like front cover for the new paperback edition of Rethinking Maps: New Frontiers in Cartographic Theory? (Routledge, $44.95, greatly reduced from the $150.00 hardcover edition.) It pays homage to Henry Holiday’s famous “Ocean-Chart” illustration for Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876), pictured below. (We might add a second question, Doesn’t it ruin the concept of the “perfect and absolute blank” to put something in it?) The collection of essays, edited by Martin Dodge, Rob Kitchen, and Chris Perkins, features such groundbreaking articles as “Cartographic representation and the construction of lived worlds: understanding cartographic practice as embodied knowledge” by Amy D. Propen.
He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.
“What’s the good of Mercator’s North Poles and Equators,
Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?”
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
“They are merely conventional signs!
“Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we’ve got our brave Captain to thank:
(So the crew would protest) “that he’s bought us the best —
A perfect and absolute blank!”
Clare Imholtz reports, with a mini review for a mini book:
Dalmation Press has published a new Disney Alice in Wonderland for children aged 2–4, perhaps, as Dodgson wished for his Nursery Alice, “to be thumbed, to be cooed over,to be dogs’-eared, to be rumpled, to be kissed, by the illiterate, ungrammatical, dimpled Darlings that fill your Nursery with merry uproar…”
This teeny abridged version is a board book about 2.5 by 3 inches and just ten thick pages long. Five pages of text face five pages of illustration. The book reads in toto:
p. 1 Alice follows the White Rabbit into a strange world.
p. 3 She meets twins named Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
p. 5 The Mad Hatter and March Hare have a tea party.
p. 7 Alice meets the Queen of Hearts.
p. 9 Was it all just a dream?
Well, what do you expect for $1.00! This may be available at your local Target.
We know of another 6-inch-tall Alice. In August 2010, we posted “New Media Artist” Jason Huff‘s Auto-summarized version of Through the Looking Glass, from his bookAutoSummarize, for sale here. For this project, he ran famous books of literature through Microsoft Word’s AutoSummarize feature. His TTLG is only 20 words long, and here’s one of his several AAIW, for comparison to the Dalmation book:
Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll
Poor Alice! Alice felt dreadfully puzzled. Alice sighed wearily. Alice asked.
Alice was silent.
‘Yes!’ shouted Alice.
Alice thought to herself.
‘I won’t!’ said Alice.
29 words! …but I’m not sure what 2-4 year olds would make of it.
The great country revival duo, Gillian Welch (with Dave Rawlings), released their first album in almost a decade, The Harrow & the Harvest. (It’s really good.) They went on Fresh Air with Terry Gross to schlep it, and at the end of the show, Gross asked them to play a cover, “to surprise us with a song that we might not think that they like.” They chose Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” and it’s a pretty damned beautiful cover of that song. Starting at 41 minutes into the show, Welch explains why they chose that song, and then their version of it gets cut off for the credits. HOWEVER, naturally, they’re hawking it as a special single on iTunes, for $1.29. Remember what the dormouse said… “That I can’t remember,” said the Hatter.