puns (e.g., WHICH vs. WITCH et al.)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jan 28 01:22:11 UTC 2008

At 7:04 PM -0500 1/27/08, RonButters at AOL.COM wrote:
>There "was no way that" WITCH could possibly be a punning reference for WITCH
>in the speech of those old folks who preserve initial /w/-versus-/hw/
>Not! This seems unusually dense of you, Wilson, in that puns that involve
>words that are similar but not identical in pronunciation ABOUND.
>Two examples:
>1. Five minutes ago, I opened an e-mail message on my neighborhood listserve
>with the subject line, "After the grill is gone," which (the text confirmed)
>was a pun on "after the thrill is gone." One could also pun (in the right
>context) by saying, "After the frill is gone," "After the trill is gone,"

I trotted out "The trill is gone" myself a few weeks ago during a
dissertation prospectus defense that mentioned trills becoming flaps
in various languages.

>  and maybe
>even "After the thew is gone" (e.g., in a headline for a newspaper feature
>story about how to get back in shape after a   sedantary period in
>one's life).
>2. A few months ago I was in the Orlando airport and a voice on the
>loudspeaker announced (surely at the request of a snickering
>adolescent traveler),
>"Will Jack Mihoff [mihaf] please meet Iva Woody right away at the Hyatt Hotel
>entrance?" Obviously, the gullible announcer missed the quadruple
>pun, but people
>in the airport did not--despite the intrusive [h], the announcer's [o/a]
>merger, and even though "Iva" for "I have" is not a normal
>contraction in American
>English. When I was in high school, there was a whole genre of author-title
>jokes (discussed here some time ago, I think) that depended on such puns
>(remember Hugo S. DeMoose? Wun Hung Lo?).

a favorite ploy of Bart Simpson's, as well as real kids


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list