Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, for whom Lewis Carroll was a pseudonym, was an Oxford-educated mathematician and logician, an early pioneer of photography, and an archetypal English Eccentric. Below is perhaps my favourite passage by Carroll (Dodson... whomever!), a passage without which the Humpty Dumpty Theory of Language would still be called the Cratylus Theory of Language.


The picture, of course, is the classic illustration by Sir John Tenniel.


"I don't know what you mean by 'glory'," Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't- till I tell you. I meant 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!'"

"But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument'," Alice objected.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master-that's all."

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. "They've a temper some of them- particularly verbs: they're the proudest- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs- however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!"

Through the Looking Glass, Ch. VI