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No Political Turkey Talk in Wonderland

Though the word gobbledygook is not used in the Alice books, the phrase "Alice in Wonderland gobbledygook" is used in the political literature to describe a politician's unclear, wordy jargon: "The political candidate always couches his or her opinions in Alice in Wonderland gobbledygook  so nobody can understand what he or she is saying." The word was coined in 1944 by Maury Maverick (1895-1954), a Texas congressman, when he became critical of United States' congressional committee members using obscure, difficult-to-understand language -- the familiar long, high-sounding words of the nation's bureaucratic vocabulary. Maverick described such language as similar to that of a gobbling turkey that was "always gobbledy gobbling and strutting with ludicrous pomposity." However, the word gobbledygook, derived from Maverick's gobbledy gobbling, when used in reference to the Alice books is verbal slander because some of the books' best-known quotations are short-worded and clear-cut in meaning (even if nonsensical), such as Wonderland's "Off with their heads!" and "Sentence first, verdict afterwards." No gobble-gobble turkey talk here. Sources: "Gobbledygook," Wikipedia (.com), 5 Sep 2012, and "Gobbledygook," World Wide Words (.org), 5 Sep 2012.

Illustration commentary: An iconic image of the native American wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) drawn by the American wildlife artist John James Audubon (1785-1851). The original life-sized print, a hand-colored engraving, was one of a series of bird prints (Birds of America) first published between 1827 and 1838 in Edinburgh and London -- the author of the Alice books was born in 1832, during the printing of Audubon's masterwork. There are no wild or domestic turkeys in the Alice books, but in Wonderland the Drink Me liquid that Alice boldly consumes without knowing its ingredients has a flavor resembling a mixture of various foods, including a roasted farm-raised turkey. A domestic turkey was a Victorian Christmas dish popular with the affluent British community in the 19th century and later, in the beginning of the 20th century, an economical Christmas food for middle-class British families because of the bird's large size. Sources: AWT's turkey files and "History of Christmas," BBC (website), 20 Apr 2013.

Grammatical factlet: According to The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (1993), "Alice in Wonderland" is often used as an adjective meaning fantastic or absurd: An Alice in Wonderland experience, for example, or an Alice in Wonderland moment, or an Alice in Wonderland world.

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A Christian army of "do-gooders" had a taste for "beautiful soup."

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 A painting owned by Lewis Carroll may have inspired his own artistic version of the fictional Alice.

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The Caterpillar's Nontoxic Mushroom

 The species of mushroom that Alice eats in Wonderland is not identified in the first Alice book.

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Alice Rides the Victorian Railroad

 England's real Victorian railroad is reflected in Alice's train ride in Looking-Glass world.

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An English Illustrator's Wonderland Face

An early 20th-century illustrator of Wonderland often used himself as a model.

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Wonderland Overshadows Maui Wowie

The Alice books provide a treasure-trove of colorful names for female cosmetics.

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Long-Necked Alice as Treetop Scientist

 A title word in the first Alice book describes a research phase in the scientific world of treetop studies.

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The Ubiquitous Non-Wonderland Cocktail

 Literary-minded bartenders and mixologists who create names for cocktails occasionally reply on the Alice books for inspiration.

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The Physical Impairments of Alice's Creators

The author and the first illustrator of the Alice books had lifelong above-the-neck problems.

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