I Heart Indies

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Puns December, Figures of Speech

Pun.  What has four wheels and flies?  A garbage truck.
Usually dismissed as the "lowest form of humor," the noble pun has a long and varied heritage.  From the Italian puntiglio, a quibble.  Keats uses a pun in his "Ode on Melancholy" when he refers to "her peerless eyes."  Ah-ha-ha-ha!  Keats, you're a knee slapper!  And Frost uses a pun in "Mending Wall," when he writes, "Before I built a wall, I'd ask to know/ What I was walling in or walling out,/ And to whom I was like to give offense."  Get it?  "Offense."  "A fence"?  Stop it, Frost, you're killing me.  There are puns in the Bible as well.  The Book of Micah in prophesying destruction of the people uses a pun called paronomasia which plays on the names of cities.  These are lost in translation but modern equivalents would be "Gainesville will be lost, Edenton will be eaten, and Ashville will be ashes."
So before you disparage the pun, remember to what use it has been put and at whose hands.
A man was about to be executed for cracking such execrable puns.  Just as he was on the scafold and the hangman was about to spring the trap, the king interrupted.  "I will pardon you," the king said, "on condition that you never, NEVER, make one of those idiotic puns again."  "Well," said the man, the rope still around his neck, "no noose is good noose!"


  1. Shakespeare loved puns:

    "I meddle with no tradesman's matters, nor women's matters, but with awl."

    "Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man."

    "The author of "Paradide Dogs" is a very witty and talented man." (This one might not actually be Shakespeare.)

  2. Damn...pitted my spelling ability against the word "Paradise", and paradise lost.