16

From Finnegans Wake, What is the meaning of this word? In context:

The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthur- nuk!) of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy. The great fall of the offwall entailed at such short notice the pftjschute of Finnegan, erse solid man, that the humptyhillhead of humself prumptly sends an unquiring one well to the west in quest of his tumptytumtoes: and their upturnpikepointandplace is at the knock out in the park where oranges have been laid to rust upon the green since devlinsfirst loved livvy.

Ref: Joyce, J (1939). Finnegans Wake. MacMillian Co. Pg. 2

0

3 Answers 3

46

It's a nonce word and is used only in Finnegans Wake. I have no clue why Joyce made it so long (perhaps he wanted to catch readers' attention and persuade them to read Finnegans Wake). It's defined by Your Dictionary as:

A sound which represents the symbolic thunderclap associated with the fall of Adam and Eve.

About it's origin, YourDictionary says:

A coinage from Finnegans Wake author James Joyce said to represent the thunderclap associated with the fall of Adam and Eve. The word is a hybrid of words in many languages that relate to thunder.


From Interesting Literature:

Joyce uses the word Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk, which is meant to denote the symbolic thunderclap which accompanied the Fall of Adam and Eve (a meaning that is imbued with greater significance in light of Joyce’s lifelong fear of thunder).

It is a 101-letter word that depicts the word for thunder in various languages. There's a video on Adam Harvey's YouTube channel where he pronounces it himself and explains how to pronounce it.
He breaks it down into its constituent parts and explains what each word means and where it came from.

Here's the summary of his explanation:

  • Bababadal: It's a reference to the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9)
  • gharaghta: (Hindi) karak, gargarahat, (Arabic) ra'd: thunder.
  • kamminarronnkon: (Japanese) kaminari: thunder.
  • bron: (Greek) brontê: thunder
  • tonnerronn: (French) tonnerre: thunder.
  • tuonn: (Italian) tuonno: thunder.
  • thun: (English) thunder: thunder.
  • trovarr: (Portuguese) trovão: thunder.
  • hounawnskawn: (Swedish) åska, (Irish) scán: thunder
  • toohoohoordenen (with a bit of a stutter): (Danish) torden: thunder
  • thurnuk: (Irish) tórnach: thunder.

[Adam Harvey - YouTube]

It took me a while to transcribe in the IPA how Adam Harvey pronounced it, though I'm still sceptical about my transcription:

[baːbabaːdɑ̟ːlhəɻʌχtʰəkɑːmĩnəɻɔ̃nkõ̜nbɻõntõneɻõntwõnθũntɻovaːrhunɑːnskɑːntuhuːhuːɻdenenθɜɻnʊk]

It's also explained in Annotations to Finnegans Wake by Roland McHugh (Google Books). Each word is explained at Finnegans Web.

The same explanation can also be found at Fweet.org:

Finnegans Wake

Faction Paradox Wiki has also used it to refer to the blaring sound of a warship (I guess):

The Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk warships (also called planet-killer warships) were piloted by praxis-enabled posthumans from the Pilots' Coterie. The name came from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, where it meant "a thunderclap so loud that it symbolises the Fall of Eden"....

There are 100+ pronunciations of this word (by people from different countries) on Pronounce Kiwi.

5
  • 1
    Baba and Badal sound like Hindi. Badal means cloud. Just a thought ;)
    – Ram Pillai
    Sep 4, 2020 at 7:21
  • 2
    I don't know about "Joyce intentionally made it long probably to ... persuade them to read his novel". Joyce famously wrote the -entire- book as a huge dare to the future industry of literary analysis, rendering the book as famously the most unread.
    – Mitch
    Sep 4, 2020 at 12:19
  • 3
    @DecapitatedSoul To be honest, but also surely a very common experience, I have never gotten past the first paragraph. I either go down the rabbit hole of trying to analyze a single word, or quickly turn to a more constructive activity like punching myself in the face. At least Carroll's Jabberwocky -feels- like it makes sense.
    – Mitch
    Sep 4, 2020 at 12:27
  • 2
    I count 100 letters, not 101. As in "thundred-letter word". (Although I seem to remember Anthony Burgess remarking that the word occurs ten times in the book, but the tenth occurrence has an extra letter, to remind us of the 1001 Arabian Nights.)
    – TonyK
    Sep 4, 2020 at 14:01
  • בָּדַל (Badal) in Hebrew means to separate and essentially "to make holy."
    – user10067
    Oct 21, 2022 at 18:38
12

Ahh yes, the impeccable word: bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthur- nuk! only opposed by Shakespeare's honorificabilitudinitatibus and the timelessly delightful supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Anyways back to your question: It is a biblical word coined in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake which is widely regarded as being an exceedingly difficult and tormenting book to get through (as is expected from Joyce). Joyce wrote it periodically during a term of seventeen years and it is fittingly considered Joyce's final work (published a little more than a year before his untimely death). I very humbly read it once and find it exceptionally tragic that it is so neglected in the minds' of readers, especially absurdists–to an absurdist, this is the stuff that dreams are made on!–It is a very strange masterpiece indeed (as is expected with Joyce) and I find it quite honorable that such a strange book holds in its pages one of the equally strange and divinely profound words.

The word is defined as the great thunder-crack (metaphorically) which strikes the hour that Satan triumphed, and God's masterstrokes: Adam and Eve face their "paradise lost" fall from grace condemnation.

The word is considered to be "unpronounceable" but I would adore seeing someone give the word some serious thought and try to come up with something.

Here is the passage where the word appears in Joyce's Finnegans Wake:

The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthur — nuk!) of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy.

In context, this refers to a very simple biblical allusion, Joyce is comparing the situation with the great fall from grace of Adam and Eve.-- thus spoke as "The Fall".

6
  • 7
    It is pronounceable! :)
    – Decapitated Soul
    Sep 4, 2020 at 6:13
  • @DecapitatedSoul You have made my day
    – Tom O' Bedlam
    Sep 4, 2020 at 12:29
  • 1
    You've written the word as "bababadal[...]toohoohoordenenthur – nuk"—two words, separated by a dash. Is there evidence that Joyce intended this to be two words? I thought it seemed clear that the word is actually "bababadal[...]toohoohoordenenthurnuk"—one word, which was printed in multiple parts, because printing it as an unbroken whole would have been physically impossible (unless they used really small type or something like that).
    – Tanner Swett
    Sep 4, 2020 at 12:58
  • @TannerSwett I will look for a first edition copy and check how the word is spelled therein-- I will get back to you on that
    – Tom O' Bedlam
    Sep 4, 2020 at 13:42
  • The word is spelled "bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk !" in numerous 1970, 60s, and late1940 editions. I cannot find a true first edition facsimile. Then there are numerous modern texts that have the word spelled as "bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthur — nuk!"-- I agree, I think it is safe to say the word is spelled "bababa(...)enthurnuk !" spelling is how Joyce intended the word. But I may be incorrect. If anyone has a first edition scan that would be exquisite
    – Tom O' Bedlam
    Sep 4, 2020 at 14:22
3
+100

tl;dr

The hundredlettered name again, last word of perfect language. [III.1.424.23]

That long thunder sounding onomatopoeic word, is was the sound of Finnegan as he falls to his death from a ladder, and combines thunderous Finnegan's curses with the sounds of the crash. Expanded my way: ()

ba-ba-ba-
dalgha-raghta-
kammin-ar-ronn-
konn-bronn-tonner-ronn-
tuonn-thunn-trovarr-hou-
nawn-skawn-
too-hoo-hoor-
denen-
thurnuk!

There are ten thunderwords tonight, the first nine 'legitimate' thunderwords being of 100 letters, while the final 'fake' thunderword is of length 101. That thunderword #1 is composed of words for thunder from various languages (finwake) is a literary plus, and is not needed to hit on the correct meaning! We can hear the thunder! The reader who makes it to thunderword #5, will learn that Finnegans Wake was composed by characters in Finnegans Wake, and hence too the thunderwords. If we make it to the final thunderword, we learn which character invented this literary device, and learn further that thunderwords also serve as names. Perhaps thundername would be a better term.


Answer

That multiplewordscombinewithoutspacesmissnglttrsspldlong does not surprise the careful leeder by karagraff three. The very first word of the novel is "riverrun" gdmnt! Such "truetowife" [I.1 11.29] (♫) words are viewed as either portmanteau words, or words from some agglutinative language, or both; whateva: although I must admit these thunderwords are particularly rong. Clearly thunderword #1 is onomatopoeic (in this case sounding of thunder and composed of words for thunder from various languages).

Thunderword #1 pertains precisely to that which the containing sentence alerts us to.

() The fall ( thunderword #1 ) of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy. The great fall of the offwall entailed at such short notice the pftjschute of Finnegan, erse solid man, ...

Namely, the "fall (thunderword #1) of a once wallstrait old" father. The next sentence assures us that this is the fall "offwall" of "Finnegan, erse solid man", and that the "great fall of the offwall" will be "entailed at such short notice", and indeed Finnegan's fall and death from the ladder is described over the next four pages, followed by his wake (♫).

  • The immediate and simplest reading of thunderword #1, is as a literary device employed by Joyce to capture the sound of Finnegan's final fall (was he pushed?). Either Finnegan's final curse, or a combination of his curses and the sounds of his fall.

And Finnegan was particularly thunderous. "Our cubehouse still rocks as earwitness to the thunder of his arafatas" [I.1 5.14] (). That this thunderword is a thunder onomatopoeia is simply because that is what thunderous Finnegan sounded like. Tonight however, Finnegan is long dead.

While Finnegans Wake should, in my opinion, always first be read WYSIWYG, Joyce would expect us to remember the thunderclap that scared the bejesus into Stephen, and, given line one, "riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s" (♫), Joyce would also expect us to symbolically associate Finnegan's fall with the myth of the Fall of Man, snake, apple and all.


A subtler interpretation is required however, once we realize that Joyce has placed us entirely within the head of someone sleeping, whom I call the dreamer. Not a dream, but a tail told from within the ontological world of the dreamer's sleeping subconscious. I call this world dreamland, and call the real narrative word of our dreamer Heliopolis. An important task is to work out who dreams the wake. The dreamer is of course the character into whose morning internal monologue we awaken and with which the novel ends, and their identity is clearly revealed in the first chapter. Consequently we need to tighten our answer.

  • More precisely, thunderword #1 is literary device employed by Joyce to capture the sound of Finnegan's final fall, w.r.t. the dreamer's current subconscious state.

Complete Answer

There are of course 10 thunderwords, and any explanation of thunderword #1 introduces a hypothesis that must remain consistent across all ten. If we had only access to chapter I.1 and hence only the first two thunderwords, our hypothesis would be as follows.

  • H1 The thunderwords are a 100-lettered literary device employed by Joyce serving to capture the voices and or sounds of significant events in the plot, w.r.t. the dreamer's current subconscious state.

We briefly examine all ten thunderwords. While we shall see that this hypothesis is essentially correct, our analysis will reveal further questions that any explanation of thunderword #1 must answer. We tighten our hypothesis H1 successively to H2, H3, and finally H4 . While we have minimized spoilers, we do assume a reading of the first chapter.

Thunderword #2 (I.1.23.5)

We exploit our examination of thunderword #2 to provide required global context for the complete examination. Thunderword #2 occurs towards the end of I.1 during The Tail of the Prankquean. By now we know that river-Liffy-Anna-ALP was married to Finnegan [4.28] (♫) and that she bore him twin sons, "where twin`twas born" [4.34], whom we call Shem and Shaun. Shem is the artist who "went to Winehouse and wrote o peace a farce"[I.1.14.13] (♫). Anna, like Molly Bloom, has been unfaithful to her husband. "She has a gift of seek on site and she allcasually ansars helpers, the dreamydeary" [5.24] (♫). Then unexpectedly Leopold Finnegan dies. We have heard omens of birth: "One by one place one be three dittoh and one before."[19.20] (♫). We also know that Anna dreams the wake and that Finnegans Wake is her "allaphbed"[18.18] (♫). Further, tonight there is a new man lying next to her, whom we call HCE, and about whom we know virtually nothing. "Hic cubat edilis. Apud libertinam parvulam."[7.22] (♫) Here sleeps the magistrate. With the little freed girl. HCE is our hero tonight (♫). "Here Comes Everybody"[I.2.32.18].

The Tail of The Prankquean (♫), which takes place when Finnegan/"Adam" was still "delvin" and his dirty-river-wife Anna was "spinning watersilts", and when Finnegan had no clue as to whom was "the first leal ribberrobber that ever had her ainway", and he could be "everybuddy to his lovesaking eyes". Hence thunderword #2 occurs before thunderword #1 in Heliopolis time. The tail concerns the prankquean and Jarl van Hoother. Jarl is inside his castle with the twin boys and "their dummy", who appears to be a baby girl. The prankquean visits Jarl van Hoother's, argues with Jarl, loses, "Shut!". "So her grace o’malice kidsnapped up the jiminy Tristopher"[21.21] and leaves in tears. We recognize Anna as the prankquean. Yet we see Finnegan inside the homestead-bar-shop (now his by law, once Anna's by inheritance) with custody of the twins and the "dummy", while Anna is outside, begging. #metoo. She leaves in tears with one of her sons. Again crying, Anna returns with her "kidsnapped" son, argues, loses, swaps sons, leaving again in tears. A while later, the prankquean is back again for a third time, but, that was how the skirmishes with the missus ended up (♫). "For like the campbells acoming with a fork lance of-lightning, Jarl von Hoother"[22.31], "came hip hop handihap out", "like a rudd yellan gruebleen orangeman in his violet indigonation".

[I.1.23.3] (♫) And he clopped his rude hand to his eacy hitch and he ordurd and his thick spch spck for her to shut up shop, dappy. And the duppy shot the shutter clup (♫) (Per- kodhuskurunbarggruauyagokgorlayorgromgremmitghundhurth- rumathunaradidillifaititillibumullunukkunun!) And they all drank free. For one man in his armour was a fat match always for any girls under shurts.

A parenthesised multilingual composition of thunder-terms and thunder gods (finnegansweb). But does it sound of thunder? (♫) Contrasting #2 with #1, we hear that until the final "bumullunukkunun", the syllables are softer in #2. I hear, clued in by the context, Anna slamming the shop roller shutter shut while cursing under her breath in the thunder style of her husband. Onomatopoeic. Symbolizing Anna shutting her mouth. This is consistent with H1.

Note that we learn that Anna has a baby daughter, younger than the twins, referred to only as "her dummyship". Despite taking precautions, Molly Anna finds herself pregnant! Finnegan does not think he is the father, and has thrown Anna out. This "dummy" is nearly invisible until I.4, where she is named for the first time. I call her Issy. Who is her father?

Thunderword #3 (I.2.44.20)

Thunderword #3 (I.2.44.20) occurs towards the end of I.2, just before the singing of The Ballad of Persse O'Reilly. In I.2 we learn how HCE got these initials(♫), learn gossip of venereal disease and sex-crimes (♫), and, following HCE's encounter with The Cad (♫), we track the trail of a rumour (♫) "to the strains of The Secret of Her Birth"[38.33], which ends with Hosty singing the Ballad of Persse O'Reilly to a huge crowd. The crowd are gathered and urging Hosty to sing.

[I.2 44:19] (♫) It’s cumming, it’s brumming! The clip, the clop! (All cla) Glass crash. The ( klikkaklakkaklaskaklopatzklatschabattacreppycrotty- graddaghsemmihsammihnouithappluddyappladdypkonpkot! ).

This thunderword is composed of words for applause from various languages (finwake), is onomatopoeic, bracketed, but not capitalized. It is the voice/clapping/applause of the "crowd of Caraculacticors"[I.3 48.7] who have gather to listen to the ballad, and is consistent with H1.

Thunderword #4 (I.4.90.31)

Thunderword #4 is interesting in that this thunderword is spoken by a character, in this case the cross examiners of a witness ("the mixer") during the trial of the prisoner "Festy King", in a referential context, as a question to the witness.

[I.4.90.29] (♫) Such as turly pearced our really’s that he might, that he might never, that he might never that night?

Treely and rurally.

(♫)Bladyughfoulmoeck- lenburgwhurawhorascortastrumpapornanennykocksapastippata- ppatupperstrippuckputtanach, eh?

You have it alright.

The cross examiners ask "[Thunderword #4], eh?" and the witness replies "You have it alright."

This thunder word is a multilingual concatenation of words for whore (finwake), and is clearly misogynistic. I hear that common voice of a man swearing at or over a women. Perhaps not onomatopoeic, certainly a curse. The cross examiners might be referring to the prisoner's misogynistic curse of regret over the two girls who lead him astray, or this might be a personal proper noun, possibly for the two girls, or perhaps the prisoner. This forces a strengthening of H1.

  • H2 Hypothesis H2 is H1 with the note that thunderwords are not purely literary devices, in that thunderwords may be terms in dreamland, which in turn are likely to have Heliopolis referents.

We defer the question as to the dreamland referent, if any, of thunderword #1 until the conclusion.

Thunderword #5 (I.5.113.9)

Chapter I.5 and thunderword #5 are disruptive, since I.5 introduces the question "who in hallhagal wrote the durn thing anyhow?"[I.5.107.36] (♫). We learn that one of our characters delivered to the world the text we call Finnegans Wake, which is, in part, an attempt to capture a-life-in-a-night of an average person. I call this character the writer. Who is the writer? To add complexity, our writer is not the only character to have made such an attempt. Clearly Shem is one possibility, one of the four wise Mamalujo another. Even punny old Finnegan has an influence. Who wrote what and why is a primary part of the plot of Finnegans Wake and a major bone of contention tonight. The (final) writer draws heavily on the other writers' texts.

Consequently, we actually have to ask which character composed which thunderword, and hence update our hypothesis H2

  • H3 The thunderwords are a 100-lettered literary device, each composed by characters in Finnegans Wake, serving to capture voices and or sounds of significant events in the plot, w.r.t. the dreamer's current subconscious state. Further, thunderwords may be terms in dreamland.

So who composed thunderword #1?

  • I think that thunderwords #1 to #4 where composed by Shem, who, having authored 'Ulysses' [II.1.229.13] (♫), is now attempting to capture a-life-in-a-night of his mother. Shem's thunderwords are distinguished as being 100-lettered, onomatopoeia like, and composed of a root word in many languages.

An alternative possible writer to Shem is revealed when, while scratching in her rubbish dump(♫), old maid "Biddy Doran"(♫) uncovers a letter that she deemed "literature"[112.27] (♫), and some "grouse that letters have never been quite their old selves again" since.

Thunderword #5 occurs as the narrator gives insight into the author of the letter.

[I.5.112.36] (♫) But how many of her readers realise that she is not out to dizzledazzle with a graith uncouthrement of postmantuam glasseries from the lapins and the grigs. Nuttings on her wilelife! Grabar gooden grandy for old almeanium adamologists like Dariaumaurius and Zovotrimaserov-meravmerouvian; (dmzn!); she feel plain plate one flat fact thing and if, lastways firdstwise, a man alones sine anyon anyons utharas has no rates to done a kik at with anyon anakars about tutus milking fores and the rereres on the outerrand asikin the tutus to be forrarder. (♫)Thingcrooklyexineverypasturesixdix- likencehimaroundhersthemaggerbykinkinkankanwithdownmind- lookingated. Mesdaims, Marmouselles, Mescerfs! Silvapais! All schwants (schwrites)

Thunderword #5, while still 100-lettered, is clearly not a Shem creation, the most obvious distinction being that it is as near cleartext English as any other phrase in Finnegans Wake! Further, there is no root word and it does not appear to be onomatopoeic in any way. Well of course, this is a different writer, but a writer who is aware of Shem's technique and is adapting the technique to their needs.

But is it an impression of voices and or sounds of significance? We first have to notice "looking at-ed" and decode the previous phrase in terms of "her" opinion about men googling women. I decode this thunderword as "her" cursing under her breath at such a man. I think it symbolizes that moment she first realized that she is continually under the sexual gaze of men. This realization, in part, spurs her to write. So this is consistent with H3.

There are no more thunderwords in Part I, and this is part of the plot.

Thunderword #6 (II.1.257.27)

Thunderword #6 occurs towards the end of II.1. Anna's three children have performed a 'play', but now it is time for them to come inside, "Housefather calls enthreateningly"[246.6] (♫). Playtime/childhood is over, and it is time for homework, or at least for the twin boys! "Soon jemmijohns will cudgel about some a rhythmatick or other ... whereas she, ... will sit and knit on solfa sofa."[II.2.268.7] Those "hintering influences from an angelsexonism"[II.3.363.34]? Despite the kids being called inside on page 246, Issy, "that little cloud, a nibulissa, still hangs isky"[256.33] (♫) and her "angelland all weeping bin that Izzy most unhappy is"[257.1]. Issy is mid thought, when:

[II.1.257.27] (♫) Lukkedoerendunandurraskewdylooshoofermoyportertoo- ryzooysphalnabortansporthaokansakroidverjkapakkapuk.

Byfall.

Upploud!

The play thou schouwburgst, Game, here endeth. The curtain drops by deep request.

Thunderword #6 is certainly Shem style, being a 100-lettered multilingual concatenation of "shut the door" (finwake). But is it composed by Shem? This could be the sound of the door slamming shut, or a voice yelling for the door to be shut, which is consistent with our updated H3.

Thunderwords #7 (II.3.314.8) and #8 (II.3.332.5)

Thunderwords #7 and #8 both occur in II.3. This "lur of Nur"[310.24] is the hardest chapter of Finnegans Wake, but is also the chapter in which the identity of Issy's father is revealed. The action is centred in Finnegan's HCE's bar, which is part of the family home-inn-shop-boarding-house. Most present tonight in the bar have been sitting in that same seat since Finnegan's time, and boy have they never let HCE forget it!


Thunderword #7 occurs as publican HCE turns to stow coins he has gathered (and short changed) from his customers and collides with his man-servant/cook, whom I call Saunderson, "the queriest of a the crew", who, fearing HCE's anger, is moving to fetch more beer (while pondering Finnegan's fall).

[II.3.314.7] Bump!

Bothallchoractorschumminaroundgansumuminarumdrum- strumtruminahumptadumpwaultopoofoolooderamaunsturnup!

Noting the German ganz um - all round, and the Irish loodheramaun for "lazy idler", one possible reading is:

Both, all characters chumming around and around in a rum drum strumming trumpeting a Humpty Dumpty wall-all top of old foolish lazy man bum up!

This thunderword is consistent with H3 and should be compared with #5. It symbolizes an ontological collision of HCE and Saunderson.


Thunderword #8 occurs after the kids knock on the bar door, and narrative attention shifts to the kids and old maid Kate. The kids are asking questions of her. At one point Kate says or thinks:

[II.3.332.1] (♫) Snip snap snoody. Noo err historyend goody. Of a lil trip trap and a big treeskooner for he put off the ketyl and they made three (for fie!) and if hec dont love alpy then lad you annoy me. For hanigen with hunigen still haunt ahunt to finnd their hinnigen where (♫)Pappappapparrassannuaragheallachnatull- aghmonganmacmacmacwhackfalltherdebblenonthedubblandadd- ydoodled and anruly person creeked a jest. Gestapose to parry off cheekars or frankfurters on the odor. Fine again, Cuoholson! Peace, O wiley!

While thunderword #8 is consistent with H3, the syntactic context is interesting, in that it demands reading as a personal proper noun: "Where [thunderword #8] and anruly person crekked a jest." It is spoken or thought by Kate, and appears to be a name for Issy's father. And who the "hec" is he? I think it symbolizes the conception of Issy. I sense violence.

Thunderwords #9 (III.1 414.19) and #10 (III.1.424.20)

The final two thunderwords occur in III.1. Shaun is under interrogation by his half-sister Issy and her 28 Rainbow girls. By now we know that Shaun, unlike Shem, is not a content producer. Shem prefers to criticize and lecture.


Thunderword #9 occurs when Shaun is asked by the girls to produce just a song, but rather than produce, Shaun apologises, and offers instead to relate the Fable of the Ondt and the Gracehoper. This offer to relate is interrupted by thunderword #9, a parenthesised onomatopoeic cough composed of words for cough from various languages(finwake.com). An embarrassed cough if you like. We, both the reader and the girls, expect (cough cough) Shaun to steal this fable from Shem.

[III.1.414.14] (♫) So vi et! we responded. Song! Shaun, song! Have mood! Hold forth!

I apologuise, Shaun began, but I would rather spinooze you one from the grimm gests of Jacko and Esaup, fable one, feeble too. Let us here consider the casus, my dear little cousis ( (♫) husstenhasstencaffincoffintussemtossemdamandamnacosaghcusa- ghhobixhatouxpeswchbechoscashlcarcarcaract ) of the Ondt and the Gracehoper.

This looks like a Shem creation (#1,#2,#3,#4) with root word cough (finwake), stolen by Shaun. Notice too, the twins fighting as always. Alternatively this might have been composed by the writer in perfect Shem style, reflecting both the twins fighting and Shaun's embarrassed cough. Either way, this is consistent with H3.


Finally 'fake' thunderword #10, the context of which adds additional insight into the nature of the thunderwords themselves. Shaun proceeds to relate the fable, which we clearly recognize as a Shem creation. The questioning of Shaun continues. The girls ask "decent Lettrechaun"[419.17] (♫) if he can read "the strangewrote anaglyptics of those shemletters patent for His Christian’s Em", hinting that Shem's style, if not patented, is patently clear. "Greek!"[419.20], replies Shaun, who goes on at length to ridicule a text of Shems' that appears to contain much of Finnegans Wake to this point.

The girls apologise for mentioning Shaun's "cerebrated brother"[421.19] (♫), but suggest that Shaun must understand Shem's text to some degree, "since you rose to the use of money", hinting non too subtly at plagiarism. "CelebrAted!"[421.21], a triggered Shaun replies. "Your words grates on my ares". "Notorious I rather would feel". "Obnoximost posthumust!". "Homo".

The girls ask Shaun "to put his prentis’ pride in your aproper’s purse"[422.19] (♫), and to "to unravel", then, how he understands Shem's text, but in his own sweet way "with words of style", and teasingly suggest "with yet an esiop’s foible". "Well it is partly my own, isn’t it?", Shaun replies, and tries to demonstrate how some of our well known Finnegan Wake phrases are his, but mangling them horribly. "Ann wun-kum." "And then the liliens of the veldt, Nancy Nickies and Folletta Lajambe!" Shaun proceed to ridicule Shem and his text. Shaun goes so far as to assert that Shem actually stole from him, noting how Shem was "always cutting my prhose to please his phrase"[423.15], which is of course part of the artist's job description!

The girls demand production again. "You will now, goodness, won’t you?" (♫) At last, Shaun "picksticked into his lettruce invrention" and finally produces his very own thunderword:

[III.1.424.20] (♫) Ullhodturdenweirmud- gaardgringnirurdrmolnirfenrirlukkilokkibaugimandodrrerin- surtkrinmgernrackinarockar!

"Thor’s for yo!" says a self satisfied Shaun. His thunderword is composed of gods, characters, places and events from Norse (i.e., Viking) mythology (finwake). We can see that it is clearly shit. "The hundredlettered name again"[424.23], troll the girls, "last word of perfect language", knowing that Shaun has made a mistake! "But you could come near it, we do suppose, strong Shaun", since Shaun's thunderword is 101 letters long, not 100. Close but no cigar. Hence we view this as the 'fake' thunderword.

We observe that the notion of thunderwords are known to both Issy and Shaun, as is the fact that they are a Shem invention. We further learn than these thunderwords are thundernames! This is not inconsistent with our reading so far, recalling that thunderword #4 must be a term while thunderword #8 must be a name.

  • H4 The thunderwords are a 100-lettered literary device, invented by Shem, each composed by characters in Finnegans Wake, serving to capture the dreamer's impression of voices and or sounds of significant events in the plot. Further, thunderwords are names.

It is out of scope to identify whom each thunderword names, other than the first.

Closure

H4 demands that thunderword #1 is a thundername.

  • I used to think thunderword #1 is a thundername for Finnegan, however I now suspect that it is a name for Issy's father, whom Finnegan dies without knowing the identity of.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy