Read the stanza below from Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky and choose the parts of speech categorization that most likely fits the gibberish words from the poem. ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy...

Read the stanza below from Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky and choose the parts of speech categorization that most likely fits the gibberish words from the poem.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

a. Gyre, gimble, and borogoves are likely verbs.
b. Brillig, raths, and wabe are likely verbs.
c. Mimsy, slithy, and mome are likely adjectives.
d. Brillig, borogoves, mimsy and slithy are likely nouns.
Expert Answers
teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

a. "Gyre, gimble, and borogoves are likely verbs." This contains an error. Gyre and gamble are verbs because they describe what the toves (a noun) did. Borogoves is definitely not a verb because no verb is introduced by "the." Borogroves is a noun: the borogoves are a thing of some sort.

b. "Brillig, raths, and wabe are likely verbs." This contains errors. Brillig is the most ambiguous nonsense word in the piece, but it is a noun likely describing a time of day. The other two words are not verbs, but nouns: they are both introduced by the article "the" (raths has an adjective inserted between it and "the," consistent with a noun).

c. "Mimsy, slithy, and mome are likely adjectives." Yes! Placement or word order is all important in English and slithy and mome are both placed between "the" and another word which is a noun, showing they are modifying the nouns: that's what adjectives do. Mimsy is also describing or modifying a noun, in this case the borogoves.

d. "Brillig, borogoves, mimsy and slithy are likely nouns." This contains errors. As we have already established brillig and borogoves are nouns. Mimsy and slithy, however, are adjectives.

Only "c" correctly identifies the parts of speech.

davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If those are the options, then C would have to be the correct answer. Adjectives are words that describe nouns. Common examples include "big," "small," "black," or "brown." In the above excerpt from "Jabberwocky" the nonsense word mimsy is quite clearly being used as an adjective; it's being used to describe the borogroves, which are obviously nouns, even if we don't know exactly what they are.

Slithy sounds just like "slimy," and that's probably deliberate on Carroll's part. In any case, just like "slimy" it's an adjective as it's describing a noun, in this case toves. Again, we don't have to know what any of these words mean, but we can detect an underlying grammatical structure with more than a passing resemblance to standard English. Indeed, if Carroll had written his poem without using traditional grammatical structures, then it's difficult to see how any recognizable meaning could have been conveyed.

Finally, we have mome. Once again, its proximity to what appears to be a (plural) noun--raths--provides us with a clue as to its grammatical function. Mome is indeed an adjective, and so C is the correct option to choose.

amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Gyre and gimble are used as verbs. Gyre means to scratch or circle and gimble means to bore holes; both are used as verbs. These definitions come from Lewis Carroll's glossary. However, borogroves are supposedly parrots, so the word is a noun and (A) is incorrect. 

Raths are turtles, a noun. Wabe is the side of a hill (the "way before" side of the hill), also a noun. And brillig is also a noun meaning a time in the evening when broiling and grilling are done (around dinner time). So (B) is also incorrect. 

Mimsy means miserable or unhappy (presumably a combination of flimsy and miserable). Slithy is a combination of slimy and lithe, lithe meaning thin and flexible. Mome means solemn. Each of these three gibberish words are used as adjectives, so (C) is correct. 

In (D), brillig and borogroves are used as nouns but slithy and mimsy are adjectives so (D) is incorrect. 

user3780031 | Student

When one uses the definitions for parts of speech, one can determine what each word is by definition. For example, wabe is the object of the preposition in, so it has to be a noun since no other part of speech is the object of a preposition with the exception of a objective case pronoun.  It cannot be a verb.  It is interesting to examine this poem in light of the definitions. 

lkennedylkennedy | Student

c