Far Side puns

More cartoons from the Gary Larson Wiener Dog Art book — not about wiener dogs, but about puns:

My favorite of this set: an imperfect pun on the La Brea Tar Pits, a collection of tar (asphalt) pits in the middle of Los Angeles, into which all sorts of creatures were enmired over tens of thousands of years. A wonderful place to visit.

So we get the imperfect pun carpets vs. the original tar pits. The two differ in prosody — carpets is ´ ˘, tar pits (like car pets ‘pets for cars’) is ´ `.  The initial consonants are different: /k/ in car vs. /t/ in tar, two voiceless stops differing only in point of articulation. And the vowels in the second syllable are different: unaccented /ǝ/ in carpet vs. accented /ɪ/ in tar pit, again very close.

Here we get an idiom have an itchy trigger finger ‘be inclined to shoot one’s gun, to act impulsively’ in collision with the literal itchy trigger finger ‘trigger [index] finger that is itchy’.

Even more subtle: runaway ‘s.o. or sth. that has run away’, specialized in two different directions — ‘someone (esp. a child) who has run away from home’ (hence the notices on milk cartons) vs. ‘something (esp. a train) that has run out of control’.

Here’s one where the actual words aren’t expressed: antenna in two (historically related) specialized senses — the sensory appendages of an insect, the receiving/transmitting devices of radio and television.

More Larsons, of other types, to come.

One Response to “Far Side puns”

  1. Playful variations « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] More Far Side cartoons from Gary Larson’s Wiener Dog Art (though not involving wiener dogs): three playful variations on formulaic expressions. […]

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