Oompa-loompa, everlasting gobstopper, snozzberry, whangdoodles, hornswogglers, snozzwangers, vermicious knids, scrumdiddlyyumptious, eggdicator: These are some of the examples of the wonderful words in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that Google helped me jog my memory about, my first experience in discovering Roald Dahl’s leanings for inventing new nonsensical words. At that time, I had to turn to a stack of different dictionaries in my house , or to the internet as the last straw to grasp their meanings. I wonder if native speakers who have read it have the same cognitive trepidation.
The BFG , short for The Best Friendly Giant , is another one I was boggled at. It is definitely more rabid than the former one in that I almost wanted to toss it up in the air. It is riddled with many, many nonsensical words Dahl coined himself. My student and I since it was part of our reading class called it TGL short for The Giant Language. Thus, the biggest challenge for us was how to understand it because we are not native speakers . Our knowledge of English vocabulary is limited. In this case, we just try to guess with the context clues hidden not anything but near the other sentences, or as usual with my comrade in time of nasal hemorrhage or with a dictionary app installed in our android phones. However, most of the time, we just skipped them , for in doing so was a waste of time.
For the newbie, to understand what I have been blabbering about, try to guess the meanings of the following words and sentences.
“Upgoing bubbles is a catasterous disastrophe!”
“Delumptious fizzy frobscottle…”
“I cannot be squibbling the whole gropefluncking dream on a titchy bit of paper.”
You will be coming to an ucky-mucky end if any of them should ever be getting his gogglers upon you.”
“How whoopsey-splunkers! How absolutely squiffling! l is all of a stutter.”
To the readers who have read it, you may be pleasantly squinting at the words until now. For me, my favorite words that my student and I made fun of were “ I watch telly telly bumkin box”, and “ scrumdiddylicious” which was also spoken in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. ^^
If you are such a logophile, maniac for patting down all the words in the book, you could serve as an interpreter for TGL.
Apparently, the nonsensical words are the mainspring of having a hard time enjoying it to bits as to what I went through in Matilda or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Such literary device may deaden or spice up the excitement of the story depending on the taste of the reader. In a metaphorical situation, I was like a stranger, lost in a lost world, fear-stricken of the thought that I would not be able to get back to where I came from because of the strange things, needless to say TGL , I had to be inured to until I was part of this “disgusterous, sickable, and rotsome” world of the giants. But the truth is I don’t want to enter this story anymore, especially during witching hour: I am scared to have met the giants and talked to them in their language anymore; it would just put me in a nose bleeding and bone-crunching position.
Despite that the world I entered is creepily “disgusterous”, I found it amusing because of The BFG. He is such a naive but amusing character. I was like Sophia, the main character , enjoying his company because of his funny hobbies and stories. I would hate but try eating his favorite food “snozzcumbers” which taste is beyond recognition. I would for sure enjoy his ejaculatory whizzpopper, a drink resembling a soda drink, but equivalent to farting reaction in our world. I would not get tired of his thousand jars of dream collections. I would be fascinated by his elongated ears which have the ability to listen to sounds a million times far away, and could serve as a hideout for a small human bean from human-bean eaters. Indeed, The BFG is not a giant everyone should be intimated by.
If I survived the world of the giants in that I was neither crunched nor gorged on , I would not just bear in mind the memories I spent with the BFG but also his sophisticated character. You might not realize that the BFG has a literary symbol. For me, he is the anathema of the desire to change the old ways. Little did I realize that Dahl may have suggested that his story is about civilization and barbarism.Only the BFG has the willingness to be weaned on the currently revolutionary life , keeping behind the old ways of the other giants. He exerts a lot of effort to educate himself by reading books, especially Charles Dickens’ works. Likewise, he does not want to eat human beans because of his “civilized conscience.” As a matter of fact, the story indicates that we can learn break our uncivilized habits like what happened to The BFG and other giants who have eventually been taught to lead the life civilized people do. Now, this could be a question for a social science scholar: Is civilization a learned development?
The BFG is another book to reduce me to awe for Dahl’s mastery in storytelling although I am now at the stage of cognitive development when everything is no longer beyond a child’s understanding. Rather, I can cringe at the juvenile and puerile stories because such things can be deduced with logical explanations. However, I reckoned that we are dictated by society when we should act our age. In other words, there is no limitation to what books a reader should read. Thus, Roald Dahl is now my favorite children book writer. 🙂
Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)