2016 marks 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl, in my opinion, the best children’s writer of all time. Not only were his stories totally magical but I have always been drawn to the incredible language he used – a true wordsmith.
To mark this special anniversary I decided to put together a post of my favourite ‘gobblefunk’ (the name given to the lexicon of words coined by Roald Dahl) for your pleasure.
THE BFG (the story of a young girl who encounters a Big Friendly Giant who catches good dreams and shares them with children)
The wonderful character of the BFG has his own unique way of speaking, which has come to be known as ‘gobblefunk’, and is therefore the source of most of Dahl’s incredibly inventive language. Here are some of my favourites.
The Big Friendly Giant is unlike any other giant, he refuses to eat ‘Human Beans’ (people) or steal from them so he is forced to eat ‘snozzcumber’; a vile, knobbly, cucumber-like vegetable. Such vegetables are ‘grobswitchy’, that is they have a distinctly nasty flavour.
On the other hand, ‘Frobscottle’ is a ‘scrumdiddlyumptious’ (absolutely delicious) drink that tastes of vanilla and cream, with the faint taste of raspberries. It is full of bubbles and has the side effect of causing ‘whizzpopping’ – an explosion in your tummy causing a series of very rude and loud noises.
The BFG describes a “few gallops of frobscottle…always making me hopscotchy again”.
When Sophie asks the BFG to mix a special dream immediately he responds with another of my favourite BFG phrases: “why such a Flushbunking flurry?”; which means hurry.
And finally, my last two from the BFG, or I could go on for days: “‘…no chittering. I is needing to listen only to silence when I is mixing up such a knotty plexicated dream as this.’”
But it’s not just the BFG that contains gobblefunk:
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (a fantastical story about a poor boy who wins one of five golden tickets, gaining him entry into the mysterious Wonka Chocolate Factory)
Possibly one of Roald Dahl’s most well known gobblefunk is the term ‘Oompa Loompa’. These are wonderful small people with amazing hair, from Oompa Loompa Land. Depicted in the original 1971 movie as orange skinned with green hair, Dahl originally described these small folk as being white skinned and golden haired. Oompa Loompa’s are well known for their fantastic songs:
‘Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-do
I have a perfect puzzle for you
Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-dee
If you are wise, you’ll listen to me.
What do you get when you guzzle down sweets?
Eating as much as an elephant eats
What are you at getting terribly fat?
What do you think will come of that?’
(This song was originally posted at:http://bussongs.com/songs/the-oompa-loompa-songs.php )
‘Whangdoodles’, ‘Hornswogglers’, ‘Snozzwangers’ and ‘Vermicious Knids’ are all creatures native to Loompa Land that prey upon Oompa Loompa’s. Reference to Vermicious Knids can also be found in James and the Giant Peach; they are described as shape-shifting alien type creatures.
THE TWITS (a madcap tale of two vile beings and the tricks they like to play on one another)
The Twits are not well known for being polite to one another, giving Dahl the opportunity for use of some fantastic insulting language. As a result of one of Mr Twit’s tricks, Mrs Twit ends up attached to some balloons, disappearing into the sky. As she frees herself and floats back to the ground she can be heard calling Mr Twit a ‘grizzly old grunion’ and a ‘filthy old frumpet’.
Another of Roald Dahl’s invented creatures is the Giant Skillywiggler; a creature that, says Mr Twit, has teeth like screwdrivers and will bite off your toes.
‘“By golly it is a Giant Skillywiggler! Mr Twit said. “It’ll bite off your nose.”’
I’m sure there are plenty more that I haven’t thought of so please, add your favourites in the comments.