suggestive names

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Sun Jun 11 22:54:16 UTC 2006

How many of these can there be ?  I was told in 1973 or ' 74 that the pygmies are cunning runts and the nun has a soul full of hope.  Do the two riddles usually travel in tandem ?


Charles Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU> wrote:
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Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Charles Doyle
Subject: Re: suggestive names

Many of these phrases occur in the minor genre of riddling
questions that folklorists term "spooneristic conundrums";
usually they follow the formula "What's the difference
between x and y?" (or "How is x like y"?). Often, in order
to accomplish "disingenuous taboo avoidance," only the first
half of the two-part answer is uttered, leaving the second
half to be inferred or guessed:

What's the difference between a band of pygmies and a
women's track team?

What's the difference between a nun and a girl in the


---- Original message ----
>Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2006 17:28:19 -0400
>From: Benjamin Zimmer
>Subject: Re: suggestive names


>On 6/10/06, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> >Another good example is the chain of bars "Fuddpuckers".
>> >
>> cf. "You ain't so muckin' fuch." I guess metathesis is a
common form
>> of disingenuous taboo avoidance...
>Wikipedia's list of spoonerisms includes many more:
>Some might consider it more clever when the spoonerization
results in
>actual words, as in "holy shucking fit". There's
also "Cunning
>Stunts", which has been used as an album title by at least
three bands
>(Caravan in 1975, The Cows in 1991, and Metallica in 1998).
>--Ben Zimmer

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