Word play for the weekend

Two recent items with word play in them: a Channel 1 Releasing (C1R) ad for a Valentine’s Day sale on gay porn with a groaner pun (gay porn ads are given to all kinds of language play); and yesterday’s Mother Goose and Grimm cartoon, turning on an ambiguity between literal and metaphorical uses of the word balloon.

The ad (with the image cropped so as to preserve Brandon Lewis’s “heart” hand gesture but to cut out the part of the image showing his excellent erect (that is to say, hard) penis (the full image has now been posted on AZBlogX, along with an appreciation of Lewis’s body and his career in gay porn, with explicit illustrations):

We got our Heart-On for you!

(#1)

So: a pun (imperfect) on heart and hard — not the first time C1R has gone this route: for Father’s Day 2015, their sale ad appeared under the header “My hard-on belongs to Daddy” and offered Daddy/Boy porn flicks.

Then the MGG:

(#2)

NOAD2 on the noun balloon:

1 a brightly colored rubber sac inflated with air and then sealed at the neck, used as a children’s toy or a decoration.

2 (also hot-air balloon) a large bag filled with hot air or gas to make it rise in the air, typically carrying a basket for passengers: he set his sights on crossing the Pacific by balloon.

3 a rounded outline in which the words or thoughts of characters in a comic strip or cartoon are written.

4 (also balloon glass) a large rounded drinking glass, used for brandy and other drinks.

ORIGIN late 16th cent. (originally denoting a game played with a large inflated leather ball): from French ballon or Italian ballone ‘large ball’

As you can see from the etymological note, sense 1 was the original, and sense 2 was a metaphorical development from it, a fact that might not be appreciated by modern speakers, who probably just see two different kinds of balloons here, little ones and really big ones. But the other two senses are clearly metaphorical, turning on a perceived visual similarity between two quite different kinds of things.

Senses 1 (literal) and 3 (metaphorical, referring to one of the conventions of cartooning) are the ones played on in #2: it’s sweetly absurd to think that Grimm would have to inflate speech balloons for the cartoon he appears in. (MGG often goes meta by taking cartoon conventions literally.)

2 Responses to “Word play for the weekend”

  1. Bob Richmond Says:

    Has anyone besides me ever pointed out that polysyllabic English words ending in -oon usually have a comical or grotesque aspect to them? Balloon, baboon, cartoon, dragoon, poltroon, Pogo’s Little Grundoon, even raccoon.

    I suppose that this phonestheme (is that word still in use?) originates in the Romance majorative suffix -on or -one – which I guess would be -oon in loans from southern Italian.

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