John Lennon’s Secret Language

Category: Culture

It’s one thing to look at a foreign language, particularly one that you’ve never seen before, and label it as jibberish. Like this: Tíu þúsund manns hafa skrifað undir áskorun til stjórnvalda um að koma í veg fyrir söluna. (It’s an excerpt from an article in an Icelandic newspaper that’s about — you guessed it — Björk.)

But what about English jibberish?

We often think of language as simply a form of communication, and therefore highly pragmatic, but language also has a history of playfulness. We can see it in the Web 2.0 branding craze of naming companies and products with “silly” words like Flickr, Veoh, Zazzle and Bing, as web entrepreneurs try to show that their ideas are more creative and outside-the-box than their predecessors and competitors. Many teachers try to encourage elementary school students to play with language to see the fun in words, in the hopes that it will make them more attentive to word meanings and spelling patterns.

But is jibberish just for kids and website founders? Not at all! JohnLennonpeaceRecently we stumbled across some relatively unknown “jibberish” works of literature by none other than John Lennon. Yes, the very person who coined many crystal clear phrases like “All you need is love” and “We all shine on, like the moon, and the stars, and the sun.” Not much confusion, there, right?

Well, what about “Woof mebble morn so green the wheel / Staggaboon undie some grapeload”?

Author: John Lennon. Meaning? Hard to say. Entertainment, certainly, and a play on language no doubt. Read on for an excerpt from his story, “Araminta Ditch” from his second book, A Spaniard in the Works.

 The peodle sighed an slowlies started to start again telling him 
about the awful case of Araminta's larfing. 

  'You mean she just keeps larfing fer no a parent season?' he 
said brightly. 'Yess that's it fazackerly Vicar,' said Richard, 
'morning noon and nige, always larfing like a mad thin.' The 
Vicar looked up from his knitting and opened. his mouths. 
  'Something will have to be done about that girl larfing all the 
time. It's not right.' 
 
 'I really doughnut see that it is any concervative of thiers 
whether i larf or nament,' sighed Araminta over a lengthy vic- 
tim. 'The trifle with the peomle around here is that they have 
forgoden how, I repeat, how to larf, reverend, that's what I 
think anyhow.' 
 
  She was of corset talking to the extremely reverend LIONEL 
HUGHES. She had gone to see him in case he could help her 
in any small way, considering he was always spouting off about 
helping peouple she thought she'd give him a try as it were. 
'What can I say my dear, I mean what can I say? ' Araminta 
looked at the holy fink with disbelief. 'What do you mean - 
what can I say - don't ask me what to say. I cam here to ask 
you for help and you have the audacidacidity to ask me what to 
say - is that all you have to say?' she yellowed. 'I know exactly 
how you feel Samantha, I had a cousin the same way, couldn't 
see a thin without his glasgows.' 
 
  Araminta stood up in a kind of suit, she picked up her own 
mongels and ran seriously out of the room. 'No wonder he only 
gets three in on Sunday! ' she exclaimed to a small group of 
wellwishers. 
 
  A year or more passedover with no changei in Araminta's 
strange larfing. 'Hee! hee! hee! she went drivan herself and 
everone around her insane. THERE  SEEMED  NO  END  TO 
THE PROBLEM. This went on for eighty years until Araminta 
died larfing. This did not help her neighbers much. They had all 
died first, - which was one of the many things that Araminta 
died larfing off.