Archive for the ‘Puns’ Category

Ruthie plays with Joe

November 3, 2019

A recent — 10/7 — One Big Happy has Ruthie willfully misunderstanding a usage, something she does every so often, sometimes as a joke, usually to annoy her brother Joe:


(#1) Joe asks about /plen/ plane vs. plain, and Ruthie mischievously shifts to a pun on /pléɪn/ playin’.

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The Potato Fried

October 27, 2019

A Wayno cartoon from 4/11/16, an exercise in cartoon understanding:


(#1) “My name is Idaho Montoya. You peeled my father. Prepare to fry.”

(See the comments. It turns out that Wayno’s original was wordless, so this caption was added by some wag  — who deserves credit.)

If you don’t get a crucial reference, the cartoon is just silly, two cartoon potatoes having a duel with potato peelers. So you need to recognize that the figures are anthropomorphized potatoes, and that the things they are wielding are potato peelers. Then there are potato references in each sentence of the challenge: Idaho, famously a source of potatoes in the US; peeling, a step in preparing potatoes for many sorts of dishes; and frying, one common method of cooking potatoes (in French fries, for instance).

You will probably also catch the groaner pun in Prepare to fry, based on the stock expression from popular adventure fiction, Prepare to die.

But otherwise, it’s just a bit of fanciful silliness. In fact, it’s rich and complex, if you’re in on the jokes.

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In an Indian pickle

October 21, 2019

… with a pun

In this bon appétit story by Carey Polis on 10/11/19 (which came to me in e-mail from ba today): “I Put This Condiment on Everything When I Can’t Be Bothered to Make a Sauce: Brooklyn Delhi’s tomato achaar is a little spicy, a lot of awesome”:


(#1) Brooklyn Delhi tomato achaar (photo by Laura Murray, pun on Delhi / deli by the food company)

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Complimentary bread

October 17, 2019

In the 10/21 New Yorker, this sdf (Seth Fleishman) cartoon, hinging on an ambiguity in the adjective complimentary:


(#1) complimentary ‘praising, approving’ vs. ‘supplied free of charge’

It’s not just that it’s complimentary; it’s also that it’s complimentary bread.

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Unaccompanied

October 13, 2019

This touching Sara Lautman pun cartoon from the 10/14 New Yorker:


(#1) “You know, sooner or later we’re going to have to let her go out unaccompanied.”

It all depends on what you mean by unaccompanied.

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What was We thinking?

September 30, 2019

The header is the beginning of a piece in the NYT Opinion section on-line on 9/25/19 (in print 9/26), “Open Offices Are a Capitalist Dead End: One story from WeWork’s inevitable blow-up: Our offices offer few spaces for deep work” by Farhad Manjoo. The first two paragraphs:

What was We thinking? That’s the only question worth asking now about the clowncar start-up known as The We Company, the money-burning, co-working behemoth whose best-known brand is WeWork.

What’s a WeWork? What WeWork works on is work. The We Company takes out long-term leases on in-demand office buildings in more than 100 cities across the globe (lately, it’s even been buying its own buildings). Then We redesigns, furnishes and variously modularizes the digs, aiming to profitably sublease small and large chunks of office space to start-ups and even big companies. Well, profitable in theory: The We Company lost $1.7 billion last year.

The business story is remarkable — you don’t see expressions like clowncar start-up in the pages of the NYT very often — but my point here is a narrow linguistic one and (at first glance) an extremely simple one, which is that

Names Is Names (NIN): A proper name is a name.

Which is to say:

A proper name is a (meaningful) expression, and not merely a form. So that, in general, a proper name has the morphosyntax appropriate to any expression with the referent of that name.

/wi/ (conventionally spelled We) is the name of a company and consequently has the morphosyntax of such a name: 3sg verb agreement (We is ambitious), possessive /wiz/ (We’s business model), etc.  — like /ǽpǝl/ (conventionally spelled Apple): Apple is ambitious, Apple’s business model. The fact that English also has a 1pl pronoun /wi/ (conventionally spelled we) — (we are ambitious, our business model) — is entertaining, but essentially irrelevant, even though the name of the company was chosen with the pronoun in mind. The name was a little joke, a pun on the slant, and now Farhad Manjoo for the NYT has wielded it for a bigger joke, salting his article with instances of conspicuously 3sg (rather than 1pl) We.

Well, I will say a bit about the business story, because it’s funny-awful all on its own, and I’ll say a little more about NIN, both when it’s sturdy and straightforward (as here) and when it’s entangled in complexities.

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Quid pro Joe

September 30, 2019

From the Washington Examiner, “[REDACTED] campaign calls Biden ‘Quid Pro Joe’ and says whistleblower is ‘in favor of one of the corrupt 2020 Democrats’” by Mike Brest on 9/29/19:

The [Helmet Grabpussy] campaign flipped the script on allegations of a “quid pro quo” between President [Grabpussy] and Ukraine, instead labeling former Vice President Joe Biden as “Quid Pro Joe” and alleging the whistleblower is politically motivated.

Ah, a political pun, based on what was once a Latin term mostly from the legal and political worlds, but is now a more generally used plain English noun /kwɪdprokwó/ (with a regular plural, /kwɪdprokwóz/.

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79

August 29, 2019

As we slide into a US holiday weekend — leading to Labor Day, the first Monday in September, this year on the 2nd — my birthday (on the 6th) looms as well. Coming up is a prime-th birthday, the 79th, an auspicious number to my mind, just one short of the 80th, which many view (like the similarly vigesimal 20th, 40th, and 60th) as a landmark birthday, in this case the gateway into old age. But for the moment I’m prime, baby.

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Pedaltecture

August 18, 2019

Saturday’s Zippy takes us to southeastern Pennsylvania, the land of my childhood:

(#1)

Not in escrow, but in Hellam Township, in York County PA. Specifically, in the Haines Shoe House. Which is a house in the form of a shoe (rather than a shop that sells shoes, or a storage place for shoes, or …).

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The opossum joke

July 30, 2019

(I posted a version of this under the heading “The opossum” on July 30th, but by a WordPress glitch the link to that posting was later re-directed to the next posting in line, “Ralph at the Port Authority” (here), so that my earlier posting disappeared completely. I lamented this loss on Facebook, and eventually archivist and quote investigator Garson O’Toole magicked up a Google Cache version of the text for me. Thanks to Garson, here’s a reconstituted version.)

(Totally baffled addendum. WordPress has published this revised posting with the date 7/30, though it was actually posted on 8/1.)

A very sweet One Big Happy from 6/30: Ruthie and her grandfather:

(#1)

A granddad joke — well, actually, two of them in sequence, the first sledgehammer simple (a classic dad joke), the second delightfully subtle (a meta-joke in which the audience response becomes a crucial part of the joke).

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