Yuen Ren Chao in Wonderland

As the text for Lesson 20 of his Mandarin Primer, Yuen Ren Chao translated the poem The Walrus and the Carpenter, which is part of Chapter IV of Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll.

For later editions of Mandarin Primer, Chao added an Appendix, as a supplement to Lesson 20, in which he translated (in romanized Chinese) the conversation between Alice and Tweedledum and Tweedledee immediately before and after Tweedledee's recital of the poem.

As far as I am aware, no corresponding Chinese character version of the supplement appears in the Character Text for Mandarin Primer, but I have rendered Chao's romanized Chinese in characters, and this version of the text appears below, alongside the English and romanized Chinese versions. Gwoyeu Romatzyh (GR) is used for romanization. To see my webpage on GR, click here.

To notify me of any errors, or to send your comments, write to me (Richard Warmington) at

richwarm AT iprimus.com.au (but replace AT with @)

I think the most likely sort of error would be where I have typed the wrong characters for Chao's romanized text.

T'dee 你喜歡詩嗎﹖ Nii shiihuan shy ma? You like poetry?
Alice 唔 — 挺喜歡的 — 有的詩。ㄝ﹐好不好告送我哪條路可以走出這個樹林子﹖ Mm — tiing shiihuan de — yeou de shy. Èh, hao buhao gawsonq woo neei-tyau luh keeyii tzoou-chu jeyg shuhlintz? Ye-es, pretty well — some poetry. Would you tell me which road leads out of the wood?
T'dee 我背哪首給她﹖ Woo bey neei-shoou geei ta? What shall I repeat to her?
T'dum 『海象跟木匠』頂長。 "Haeshianq gen Muh.jianq" diing charng. "The Walrus and the Carpenter" is the longest.
T'dee 太陽照在大海上 — Tayyang jaw tzay dah-hae .shanq — The sun was shining —
Alice 要是很長的話﹐可好請你先告送我哪條路 — Yawsh heen charng de huah, kee hao chiing nii shian gawsonq woo neei-tyau luh — If it's very long, would you please tell me first which road —
Tweedledee interrupts and recites The Walrus and the Carpenter.
Alice 我還是喜歡那海象﹐因為你知道﹐他對哪些可憐的蠣黃到底有一點兒不好受。 Woo hairsh shiihuan nah Haeshianq, inwey nii jydaw, ta duey neyshie keeliande lihhwang dawdii yeou ideal bu haoshow. I like the Walrus best, because he was a little sorry for the poor oysters.
T'dee 他比木匠喫的多ㄝ﹐可是﹗你瞧﹐他拿著獪小手絹兒擋的眼面前好讓木匠 數不清他喫了多少ㄝ﹕要反過來說。 Ta bii Muh.jianq chy de duo è, keesh! Nii chyau, ta naj kuay sheau-shooujiuall daang de yean-miannchyan, hao ranq Muh.jianq shuu.bu-ching ta chyle duoshao è: yaw faan-guohlai shuo. He ate more than the Carpenter, though. You see he held his handkerchief in front, so that the Carpenter couldn't count how many he took: contrariwise.
Alice 那真可惡﹗那我還是喜歡木匠 — 他既然喫的沒海象那麼多。 Nah jen keewuh! Nah woo hairsh shiihuan Muh.jianq — ta jihran chy de mei Haeshianq nemm duo. That was mean! Then I like the Carpenter best — if he didn't eat so many as the Walrus.
T'dum 可是他能喫多少喫多少ㄝ。 Keesh ta neng chy duoshao chy duoshao è. But he ate as many as he could get.
Alice 那麼﹐他們倆橫是都是本討厭人物 Neme, tamlea herngsh doush been taoyann de renwuh! Well! They were both very unpleasant characters!

The passage in Chapter IV of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass which Chao translated into Chinese for his Mandarin Primer (Lesson 20: The Walrus and the Carpenter, and the Appendix) appears below in English, with John Tenniel's illustrations.

`You like poetry?'

`Ye-es, pretty well — some poetry,' Alice said doubtfully. `Would you tell me which road leads out of the wood?'

`What shall I repeat to her?' said Tweedledee, looking round at Tweedledum with great solemn eyes, and not noticing Alice's question.

`"The Walrus and the Carpenter" is the longest,' Tweedledum replied, giving his brother an affectionate hug.

Tweedledee began instantly:

`The sun was shining — '

Here Alice ventured to interrupt him. `If it's very long,' she said, as politely as she could, `would you please tell me first which road — '

Tweedledee smiled gently, and began again:

`The sun was shining on the sea,
   Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
   The billows smooth and bright
And this was odd, because it was
   The middle of the night.
The moon was shining sulkily,
   Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
   After the day was done
"It's very rude of him", she said,
   "To come and spoil the fun!"
The sea was wet as wet could be,
   The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
   No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead
   There were no birds to fly.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
   Were walking close at hand:
They wept like anything to see
   Such quantities of sand:
"If this were only cleared away,"
   They said, "it would be grand!"
"If seven maids with seven mops
   Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
   "That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
   And shed a bitter tear.
"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"
   The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
   Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
   To give a hand to each."
The eldest Oyster looked at him,
   But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
   And shook his heavy head
Meaning to say he did not choose
   To leave the oyster-bed.
But four young Oysters hurried up,
   All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
   Their shoes were clean and neat
And this was odd, because, you know,
   They hadn't any feet.
Four other Oysters followed them,
   And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
   And more, and more, and more
All hopping through the frothy waves,
   And scrambling to the shore.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
   Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
   Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
   And waited in a row.
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
   "To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax
   Of cabbages — and kings
And why the sea is boiling hot
   And whether pigs have wings."
"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,
   "Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
   And all of us are fat!"
"No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
   They thanked him much for that.
"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
   "Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
   Are very good indeed
Now, if you're ready, Oysters dear,
   We can begin to feed."
"But not on us!" the Oysters cried,
   Turning a little blue.
"After such kindness, that would be
   A dismal thing to do!"
"The night is fine," the Walrus said.
   "Do you admire the view?
"It was so kind of you to come!
   And you are very nice!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
   "Cut us another slice.
I wish you were not quite so deaf
   I've had to ask you twice!"
"It seems a shame," the Walrus said,
   "To play them such a trick.
After we've brought them out so far,
   And made them trot so quick!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
   "The butter's spread too thick!"
"I weep for you," the Walrus said:
   "I deeply sympathise."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
   Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
   Before his streaming eyes.
"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
   "You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?"
   But answer came there none
And this was scarcely odd, because
   They'd eaten every one.'

`I like the Walrus best,' said Alice: `because he was a little sorry for the poor oysters.'

`He ate more than the Carpenter, though,' said Tweedledee. `You see he held his handkerchief in front, so that the Carpenter couldn't count how many he took: contrariwise.'

`That was mean!' Alice said indignantly. `Then I like the Carpenter best — if he didn't eat so many as the Walrus.'

`But he ate as many as he could get,' said Tweedledum.

This was a puzzler. After a pause, Alice began, `Well! They were both very unpleasant characters——'

The full, illustrated text (in English) of both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass may be found here.