I hope it is just a stage people go through at some time during their life span, like puberty, because interestingly, puns are showing up unbidden in my conversations and thinking processes these days. My love for puns was probably inherited from a weird ancestor. I certainly want to avoid a case of Witzelsucht.
Paronomasia sounds like a disease but it just means “pun”. And the definition of a pun is “a play on words that exploits multiple meanings of a term, or of similar sounding words for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect.” Witzelsucht, on the other hand, is a neurological condition brought on by a brain injury or stroke that causes the patient to speak in puns at all times during their waking hours. No one needs that!
Pun humor differs and the differences are what make them so interesting and funny. Some examples:
How much does a pirate pay for corn? A buccaneer.
I lost my job at the bank on my first day because a woman asked me to check her balance. So I pushed her over.
To the guy that invented zero. Thanks for nothing.
Can February March? No, but April May.
All are puns, but use slightly different means to achieve humor.
Most people don’t even remember elephant jokes. Or grape jokes. Anyone remember? My favorite elephant joke is: How do you sculpt an elephant? Well you get an enormous chunk of granite and chip away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant!
Another favorite is: “A man visits his psychiatrist. Settles on the couch and the psychiatrist asks him what he wants to talk about. The man blurts out, “I have fallen in love with and want to marry an elephant.” The psychiatrist tells his client, “the first thing to get straight in your mind is that you cannot marry an elephant so let’s start by talking about an earlier time in your life.” The man hesitated a moment then said, ‘ I guess I can handle that’ Then making a big 14 inch circle with his two hands he said, ‘But now what do I do with an engagement ring this size?’
People who like puns, usually like Knock Knock jokes, as do I. Here again the play on words makes them funny. Recently I sent these to my little great-grands:
No, you’re a poo!
Cows go, who?
No, Cows go moo!
Words strung together in a proper sentence can seem like music to me. That may make me closer to Lexicology than to Witzelsucht. And with “ologist” on the end it makes it sound less like a disease. Lexicology is a relatively new word, its usage dating from the 1970s. The definition of lexicology is the study of words and the rules of their composition. Also the appreciation of the nature and function of words, their meaning and a whole lot more.
These are odd and frustrating times. We are still on modified lockdown here and I am thankful I have this column to write each week plus the present task of writing a memoir from a lengthy manuscript written by a 96 year old veteran of WW II. It gives me purpose and focus and makes it easier to cope in these troubling times.
We laugh to make the intolerable, tolerable. My mantra. Let me leave you with this: What is the difference between a hippo and a Zippo? A hippo is really heavy and a Zippo is a little lighter.
Signing off with,” Ants will never catch the coronavirus because they have “anty-bodies”. So there. This made me laugh, hope it had the same effect for my readers.
Marge Flados is a resident of Harlingen, Texas and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.