Today’s pun crop

Another Bizarro with three puns:

The thing about imperfect puns — those where the punning expression and the one punned on are not phonologically identical, as in all three of these examples — is that the punner can get away with considerable disparity between pun and model if the context (in a formulaic expression of some kind, with visual reinforcement, etc.) is rich enough.

Trolls for scrolls is moderately distant, /t/ for /sk/ — but it’s a rhyme, and rhymes make the pun relationship easy to perceive; the onsets of the accented syllables in the rhyming relation can be pretty much anything.

Wrestler’s for Whistler’s is more distant: /r/ for /(h)w/ in the onset plus /ɛ/ for /ɪ/ as the accented vowel. But there’s support from the formula and the picture.

Goth for Gogh is a snap orthographically, but quite distant phonologically, if you use the most common English pronunciation for Gogh: /aɵ/ for /o/. Or moderately distant if you use a reasonably faithful approximation to Dutch: /gaɵ/ for /xax/, where /x/ is a voiceless velar fricative not ordinarily appearing as a phoneme of English. Only if you use the mixed pronunciation /gax/ for the painter’s name (an alternative given by AHD4 in addition to the other two) does the pun resolve to something really easy, /g/ for /x/ in the offset.

Probably Piraro was thinking about the relationship orthographically, with T for G.

And that’s the Sunday puns.

4 Responses to “Today’s pun crop”

  1. Chris Says:

    In spoken RP here in England, “Gogh” is pronounced as to rhyme with the Scottish pronunciation of “loch”. Whenever I hear it on the radio or TV, I wince.

    The same with the English pronunciation of “vitamin” (as if it had two “t”s). It’s “VI-ta-min” I scream inside my head.

  2. irrationalpoint Says:

    In the UK, Gogh is often pronounced /gof/. My reading of this panel was that it was a joke on TH-fronting, now common — and performatively so — in the south of England, and elsewhere in the UK. Maybe that assumes too much UK local knowledge, though.


  3. mae Says:

    For another crop of puns see this:

  4. arnold zwicky Says:

    To mae: ooh, Asian carpe diem! A phrasal overlap portmanteau and a pun — with the overlapping orthographic material carp, and the overlapping phonological material /karp/, representing (parts of) two entirely different lexical items. (But then the most entertaining POPs are also puns.)

    And sort-of-bilingual as well, given that carp the fish name is straightforwardly English and carpe in carpe diem is sort-of-Latin (that is, it’s English but still is heard as a foreign borrowing).

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