From Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:

'Why, she,' said the Gryphon. 'It's all her fancy, that: they never executes nobody, you know. Come on!'

2 Answers 2


It is a deliberate error. From Wikipedia (emphasis and link mine):

He speaks with a slightly ungrammatical Cockney-like accent ...

The author is depicting the Gryphon as speaking in a particular accent/dialect common at the time. As with most languages, English has many vernacular dialects which deviate from what we might call "standard English."

  • The author was depicting the Gryphon as speaking a dialect common in London around 150 years ago. Oct 11, 2020 at 14:44
  • @MichaelHarvey Quite true; I edited the answer slightly to be more consistent with that. Thanks.
    – TypeIA
    Oct 11, 2020 at 14:49

In nonstandard English (whether dialect or slang) you can expect to find forms that are considered incorrect in standard English.

For example, "never executes nobody" is a double negative and when used to mean "never executes anybody" is incorrect according to the rules of the standard language.

Similarly, "they executes" is nonstandard and is considered incorrect in standard English.

Elsewhere the Gryphon uses other nonstandard forms such as "she wants for to know" (archaic or dialectal for "she wants to know").

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