Ray Hudson
Ray Hudson
Ray Hudson

As you know by now, I am enamoured with language, how it’s used, abused and manipulated just for the fun of it. One of the weapons of choice that I admire is the pun, which is looking for humour by using meanings and pronunciations of words to create a phrase or story of double meaning – hopefully funn or clever. For example: I used to work in a soda factory. It was sodapressing!

This linguistic art form has a long history with some ancient writing and hieroglyphs based on punning systems. A Roman playwright, Plautus, was famous for his puns and word games: I much prefer a compliment, even if insincere, to sincere criticism. In case people are tempted to simply make fun of this humour, punning has been credited as the fundamental concept behind alphabets, writing, and even human civilization.

According to the wikipedia, Pun and Pundit appeared in English at nearly the same time.  A pun “heaps together” different meanings, while the root of pundit (Sanskrit for “learned man”) also means “to heap, pile up.” Certainly the pun when clever or well delivered may produce a pile up of meanings to produce a chuckle or two.

Now to the fun part!

“I’m lonely,” she said, and pointed to a button she was wearing that bore the words “Kiss me. I’m Irish.” “I’m hungry,” he said. Quiche me. I’m French.”

Here’s what happens when religions clash: Someone’s karma runs over someone else’s dogma.

Silliness is also the stock in trade for puns: Did you hear about the feline lawyer who was known for her purrfect escape claws?

How about using a common idiom about time with a twist: I could use a good clock pun.  Afterall, it’s about time!

Inquiring minds searching out the source of the sound of words, pose this question: Are puns from the Punjab?  Or is it the pundit from the Punjab who creates the puns?

Breaking up and separating compound words generate a laugh or two:  What do you call a snobbish criminal going down stairs?  A condescending con descending.

How about twisting a common idea with something arcane? Planning a trip to the Gizah plateau? It could be a pyramid scheme!

Puns for funs:
• What did the cop say about the speeding SUV? Look at that van gogh!

  • I was arrested just after my therapist told me to take something for my kleptomania
  • I used to work on an ambulance with twin brothers. They were a pair a medics!
  • Did you know I wrote a column opposing war? It’s a think peace!

There is an interesting response to puns by children and adults. Children love the word play and embrace it.  Adults often groan, even while they are snickering or laughing. Some researchers believe that the adult groan is the response of envy, of “why didn’t I think of that?” It is this envy in adults that subconsciously causes them to groan upon hearing a pun. As time goes on, it can only be hoped that we adults will eventually learn to react more like a child and less like a groan-up!

Finally, from a very clever bunch of people who operate a website called Mental Floss (love the name) – who have been running the “best pun in the world” contest.  Here are a few of the finalists: To read the rest, please check out mentalfloss.com

  • I’ve been reading something very interesting — Stephen Hawking’s latest book about anti-gravity. I just can’t put it down.
  • Ancient humans, venturing across the ice bridge to North America, got lost quite often. They found it very hard to keep their Bering Strait.
  • Did you hear they found a narcissistic male lion whose females had turned on him?

No, really? Yeah, it was his pride that did him in!

As Sherlock once said, “That’s enough Holmes Pun Humour for one week.