We have the captioning permanently visible on our TV. It does get a little bit distracting sometimes, I’ll admit. But it also sometimes adds a fascinating dimension to my television-based diversion.

Last week, I was watching “Who Wants to Be a Millionnaire.” A young man was considering the four choices before him. While pondering his options, he let out a low chuckle. If I had given it any thought, I would have expected the caption to read “LAUGHS,” or maybe even “LAUGHS QUIETLY” or “CHUCKLES.” Instead, to my disbelief and delight, the caption read “CHORTLES.” CHORTLES! Who uses that word on a regular basis? More importantly, does anyone ever think of himself or herself chortling? My goodness! What careful perception and creativity the captioner showed with this choice!

From my school play and community theater experience, which led me to sing at least two versions of the “Jabberwocky” song, I know that Lewis Carroll, author of the Alice books, invented the word “chortled.” And he invented many other words, too. Learn more about his inventive use of English here.

Since Carroll was describing a world of the imagination, it’s not surprising that he had to invent words to express the realities that Alice encountered when she went through the looking glass. However, I must admit that even in our very real world, I have done my share of galumphing and I have known several mimsy, slithy, and snarky characters. Has Carroll’s fantasy become our reality?

Alice with pansies

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