Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Pun Also Rises

There is actually a "punning" contest where contestants battle each other to make the most (and best) puns in a given topic. Some puns may be reaching, but the ability to continue the wordplay must take a lot of work. Puns have an interesting history. Even the definition of "pun" is clouded uncertainty, with many possible origins, but none fully convincing. Puns today are often degraded as lower forms of humor. However, they were not always thought of as funny. Creating and understanding puns requires a significant understand of the nuances of language. Some puns rely on homophones, while others rely on similar sounds or different meanings of different words. Understanding of the subject matter may be required for an understanding.

The Pun Also Rises would be best described as a language history. It delves into the history of the pun (dating back to ancient times), as well as its common use today. Even as it is degraded in comedy circles, it is still extensively used elsewhere. (From songs, to newspaper headlines to boat names, puns are everywhere.) The author also has a masterstroke for using puns, filling the book with subtle wordplay that does not get in the way of the story. I found myself with new appreciating for the pun as well as the "art" of punning.

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