A Welsh englyns late 10c. version of JABBERWOCKY
(see Index for original)version: Peter H. Cole

Mae'n breglell ac mae'r dau briddim dwfau It was brillig and there were two slithy toves
gaumbiddo a gyro gimbling and gyring
ar wyndab - boregobau on (a) wabe - borogoves
ac momatau ymgrabo. and mome-raths grabing themselves.
"Gwylia'r, fy mab, y Iaberwoci! "Beware my son the jabberwock,
fo ysgithredd brathog - his fangs biting -
y brawychus anghenfi - the fearsome monster -
ar crafangau llarpiog.and claws rending.
Ar gwylia'r yn enwedig, fy mab, And beware especially, my son,
bârcipion ffrwmog bandersnatch fruming
ar aderyn gobogab and bird jub-jub
mae'r yn ddiau wfftanog. that is truly shameful.

breglell - although at first sight the resemblance to the verb bregllach (jabber) is arresting, this adjective is more likely derived from, or related to, the adjective breg (fragile, faulty.) This may in fact take the place of mimsy in the English, here applied to the toves not the borogoves, which are not in themselves qualified or described except as gribing with the mome-raths.

dau - two. Uniquely in this Welsh version of the poem we are told that there are two toves

briddim - seemingly derived from the adjective brith (speckled, mottled,) it probably means lightly speckled

dwfau - clearly the plural form of the elsewhere unattested dwf. This is probably related to the adjective dwfn (deep, profound,) and corresponds very well to the Quenya original. Indeed the similarity between the Quenya root [TUB - deep] and dwfn is a surprising coincidence, if indeed it is only a coincidence. This, and some other similar common roots may point to an independent connection between the early Welsh and the Quenya-speaking Eldalie at some remote point in history.

gaumbiddo - clearly the present participle of a verb in a slightly archaic form. In modern Welsh gaumbiddio would be the expected form. The derivation and meaning are unclear, but may be related to the adjective gau (false, hollow)

gyro - again the present participle of the verb - in this case gyrru (drive, send, work, forge). The exact shade of meaning in this case is unclear, but it clearly implies some sort of work or toil.

wyndab - a noun, seemingly being a variant of wyneb (face, front), and may apply to an area of ground facing a sundial, at least this would tie in with Dodgson's explanation (though his derivation that it "goes a long way before it, a long way behind it and a long way beside it" is of course mere fancy.)

boregobau - this may be a combination of bore (early) and an element related to gobaith (hope) "Early-hopers" perhaps, though as this is nowhere else attested in any contemporary Welsh we cannot be absolutely sure.

momatau - Clearly the plural form of a noun momat. Presumably this is a borrowing from the old-english, as no etymological basis can be identified in Welsh.

ymgrabo - the reflexive or reciprocal prefix ym- is easily identified, but the verb (in the present participle,) appears to be another borrowing from the old english

Unusually for verses of this antiquity, these englyns are of the 4-line variety and rhymed a-b-a-b. Until the 12th or 13th Centuries, the 3-line englyn was more commonly employed, with a single line-end rhyme. But the internal rhymes (gau-dau-fau + idd-ddim-bidd,) between the last half of the first line and the first half of the second verse are neatly and traditionally contrived.

Copyright Peter H. Cole 2001

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