Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for GOBSTOPPERS


     
     Like most people my age, I was first introduced to Roald Dahl's work when I watched the movie version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a kid. And what kid didn't get whipped into a frenzy by all of those wildly-inventive candy concoctions?
     I mean, chocolate rivers? Lickable wallpaper? And my personal favorite - the Everlasting Gobstopper. I love that word, Gobstopper. It's a safe bet that before Dahl came up with it, the word had never been uttered before in the history of made-up words.
     When my daughter was in grade school, her class read The BFG. If you're not familiar with the book, BFG stands for Big Friendly Giant. Dahl gave his other giants in the book less friendly-sounding names like Gizzardgulper, Fleshlumpeater, and Meatdripper, all whom eat 'chiddlers' (children). I love his books just for the names.

      In one scene, the BFG introduces the main character, Sophie, to 'frobscottle', a carbonated drink. They take turns swigging from the bottle and the BFG starts 'whizzpopping' around the room. The BFG has quite a vocabulary, thanks to Dahl. Words like 'lickswishy' (tasty), 'squifflerotters' (bad humans), and 'snozzcumbers' (something edible) sound perfectly normal coming from the BFG while talking with Sophie. It's really an art, using made-up words effectively in fiction.
     For more about authors who have made up words, check out this article at Mental Floss. Funny that most of the list is comprised of children's authors!

13 comments:

  1. I love the memories Dawn thank you! I reckon I've read all Roald Dahl's books. And sometimes re-read his autobiographical works 'Boy" and 'Flying Solo' ... and have loaned this last out to adult friends. His story of growing up (Boy) is filled with schoolboy adventures -so so funny! I read that to my sons as children, now grown adults. Flying Solo is an excellent exposition of the 2nd WW. Switch Bitch - have you read that?
    O he was a clever writer that's for sure! Such an ability to pique the imagination!

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    1. I would LOVE to read Boy; I will have to find that. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  2. The 'Chidders' and 'SquiffleNice' (good humans) will be applauding this post. Thanks for a wildly inventive look into the art of 'MakeUp Words' and their originators. Mental Floss....loved it.
    Sue CollectInTexasGal
    AtoZ LoneStar Quilting Bee

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  3. Can you imagine though a chocolate river?

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  4. Born a long time ago (1952) Gobstoppers were a very well liked sweet in Glasgow, Scotland, where I grew up. In a small child's mouth it was a huge, solid boiled sweet that lasted for ages - if you didn't 'stop your gob' ie choke on it. so I really don't think Dahl invented the gobstopper - he borrowed it. I'm sure they were sold all over the UK for decades before I even tasted one. BUT it's one heck of a great name! Nancy at Welcome to she said, he said

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    1. Thanks for enlightening me, Nancy! It's probably similar to a jawbreaker.

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  5. As a film, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory really creeps me out. I did love the Great Glass Elevator book though. Personally, I think children's authors must have the most fun!

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  6. There's something about those made-up words that really captures the imagination especially for a kid. I could read any Dahl book over and over again!

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  7. Dr. Suess, Roald Dahl...word flexers! Is that a word? It is now!

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  8. What a fun post, Dawn - and fun books and words. Love the word Gobstopper =D

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