I admit to loving puns. It’s genetic. I can’t help it. I got it from my Dad 🙂
Let me give you an example…
The classic ‘Man walked into a bar…’ joke, can be totally subverted from what you expect by closing simply with ‘ouch’.
You’re expecting the bar to be a drinking establishment, but if it was just a bar of wood, then yes, that would be ouch. It might still be, even if it was a drinking establishment, but that’s beside the point.
The trouble with puns is that you can’t conjure them up on demand. However often I can make them in real life, I have trouble coming up with when specifically requested, which has made writing this article somewhat frustrating.
My Dad loved puns too, and would occasionally come up with a corker, but only after considerable deliberation, and usually several minutes after the conversation had passed point at which the pun was apposite. But that was half the fun of Dad’s puns. I wish he was still around to make them, however late they arrived, and however loudly you could hear the cogs ticking while he generated them.
… and commented that the shoes were probably loafers. I was rather proud of that one!
The dictionary says puns are a joke that uses a word or words with more than one meaning, but you can classify them further.
Homographic or homonymic puns – puns made with homographs, which are words with the same spelling and more than one definition (like pen – to write with, and to keep animals in) – or homonyms which are words with the same spelling or pronunciation and more than one meaning, (like hair and hare). These are called antanaclasis, which is your word for today.
Benjamin Franklin’s use of antanaclasis is a little macabre, but illustrates the point well: We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.
Homophonic puns use words which words which sound alike although spelled differently, (like hole and whole).
The best puns are spontaneous, and led by the circumstances, and people react to them in different ways. When I make them, they are usually followed by eye-rolls from anyone within ear-shot.
Children, when they understand them, generally laugh. And laugh, and laugh. They don’t usually have the understanding of language to create their own puns on purpose, but when they understand them, they really appreciate them.
Adults however, (or persons over the age of about 8, if the punner is the parent of said person) tend to groan. Now, is this because the joke is really obvious? Is it because the victim of the pun wishes they had thought of it first and is hiding their jealousy behind a ‘no, that was really dreadful’ reaction? Is it that some adults genuinely don’t find puns funny? You tell me!
If you try to tell me a bird pun, I’ll tell you that toucan play at that game.
Aaaand there we go!
If you’ve not had enough by now…
person #1 – How much to hire a church singing group?
person #2 – You mean a choir?
person #1 – Fine, how much to acquire a church singing group?