How to Make Nonsense: The Verbalizing Procedures of Nonsense in Lewis Carroll’s Alice Books


Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass have been regarded as exemplary of nonsense as a genre. The present article is based on a detailed research of how generic nonsense manifests itself on the verbal level of the text. The chosen method of investigation involved a cross-cultural approach since it facilitated an immediate comparison between the effects of established nonsense-making procedures in the source text (the original) and the changed verbalizations of several target texts (the translations). This article presents an example of the textual analysis that established a hierarchical analytical model: verbalizing procedures as formal categories create nonsense stylemes as elements of nonsense discourse. The analysis carried out confirmed that the selected Slovene translations no longer belonged to generic nonsense on account of transformed verbalizations that disregard the existing structure of the original text. At the same time, the analysis also showed the extent to which translation as an act of cross-cultural communication was influenced by the change in cultural and literary contexts: the adaptations carried out in Slovene translations were determined by the absence of nonsense tradition in Slovene literature since the nonsense phenomena (established in the analysis) have so far not been recognized as such.