Bearish boy slays Tablespoon.

When Nikkipolani made a comment on a recent post about the humor of computer-generated translations, I was reminded of a goofy homeschooling “project” of 20+ years ago. It was nothing assigned, but we were all centered around the home for our learning at the time, providing time for this sort of activity.

Some of our kids were memorizing Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” just for fun when we bought our first computer and discovered the inadequacy of spelling-checkers. Soon the children submitted the rhyme of the hour to the built-in program for analysis, and then they memorized that wacky “corrected” version.

Eventually a second run through Spell Checker produced another funny nonsense poem. And I later found one derived from “Jabberwocky” by someone else’s computer, which was renamed as well, as “Tablespoons” ! All of them have their charming lines, so I will be extravagant and self-indulgent and put them all here. Just not the original — you can find that easily enough if you didn’t ever commit it to memory yourself.

Jabberwocky by Spell Checker No. 1

‘Twas brisling, and the stilly toes
Did gyre and gamble in the wade;
All missy were the borogoves,
And the mom rates outreach.

“Beware the Jabberwocky, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jujube bird, and shun
The furious Band director!”

He took his volume sword in hand:
Long time the Manxmen foe he fought,–
So rested he by the Hum hum tree,
And stood a while in thought.

And as in offish thought he stood,
The Jabberwocky, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffing through the bulgy wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The volume blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with his head
He went galloping back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwocky?
Come to my arms, my bearish boy!
O fabulous day! Callow! Chalet!”
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brisling, and the stilly toes
Did gyre and gamble in the wade;
All missy were the borogoves,
And the mom rates outreach.

Next, the version that Robert McNally wrote on his Newton comJabberwocky17.inddputer. The Newton helpfully deciphered it as follows. Jabberwocky a la Newton: [with totally unrelated illustration from the defunct Jabberwocky Magazine]

TABLESPOONS

Teas Willis, and the sticky tours
Did gym and Gibbs in the wake.
All mimes were the borrowers,
And the moderate Belgrade.

“Beware the tablespoon my son,
The teeth that bite, the Claus that catch.
Beware the Subjects bird, and shred
The serious Bandwidth!”

He took his Verbal sword in hand:
Long time the monitors fog he sought,
So rested he by the Tumbled tree,
And stood a while in thought.

And as in selfish thought he stood,
The tablespoon, with eyes of Flame,
Came stifling through the trigger wood,
And troubled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and though,
The Verbal blade went thicker shade.
He left it dead, and with its head,
He went gambling back.

“And host Thai slash the tablespoon?
Come to my arms my bearish boy.
Oh various day! Cartoon! Cathay!”
He charted in his joy.

Teas Willis, and the sticky tours
Did gym and Gibbs in the wake.
All mimes were the borrowers,
And the moderate Belgrade.

Lewis Carroll’s JABBERWOCKY as “recognized” by the Apple Newton, (c) 1993 Robert McNally. Permission is granted to reproduce this if the copyright remains intact.

Finally, our own spell-checker’s second attempt, which seems to me to have the most culinary and homey perspective. (This fellow’s cartoon seems to catch that mood even from the original.)

Jabberwocky by Spell Checker No. 2

Twos broiling, and the slaty stoves
Did gyre and gimbal in the be;
All mimes were the Porridges,
And the mom rats outrace.

“Beware the Jabberwocky, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jujube bird, and shun
The frumpish Bandersnatch!”

He took his formula sword in hand:
Long time the manhole foe he sought,–
So rested he by the Dumdum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in offish thought he stood,
The Jabberwocky, with eyes of flame,
Came wheeling through the tulle wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The formula blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with his head
He went galumphing back.

“And haft thou slain the Jabberwocky?
Come to my arms, my bearish boy!
O fractious day! Calla! !”
He chortled in his joy.

Twos broiling, and the slaty stoves
Did gyre and gimbal in the be;
All mimes were the porridges,
And the mom rats outrace.

Now tell me, was this a common recreation for a time back in the 90’s? Perhaps children are still having this kind of fun with their technology, but mine barely remember the project. They definitely moved on, but I’m glad I have the mementos of happy and occasionally silly days.

8 thoughts on “Bearish boy slays Tablespoon.

  1. Oh I am so glad you shared that! We used it as a narrative assignment but we never thought of running it through those old spell checkers of those early computers. My husband was a programmer so of course we had an Apple. 🙂
    That makes me laugh. We had such fun didn’t we?

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  2. These are fantastic! I don’t believe we ever thought to try this. I like the third one best, myself. I’ll be on the lookout for those manhole foes! And, yes, I’ve experienced some pretty weird translations when I leave a comment on a blog that’s written in another language. Fun stuff! 🙂

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  3. We read Jaberwocky many years ago, but never ran it through spell check. I did,however, ask the kids to make up their own versions which were very fun as I recall.

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