Essay PreviewMore ↓
“In his protest days, Gandhi walked everywhere. From the North of India to the South, Gandhi traveled it all, all without shoes. And he didn’t brush his teeth, either, so his breath was pretty bad. Since he walked so far and did not eat much in the way of food, he got very thin and physically weak. All in all, he was a super-calloused, fragile mystic, vexed with halitosis!”
Have you heard jokes such as this before? Jokes that cause you to groan sooner than laugh, and to hurl random objects at the utterer? Perhaps you heard them at a party somewhere, or when you were with a friend. Or even in the workplace. Such jokes are everywhere, causing even the most good-humored person to groan in agony at the cheesiness of it all. Puns, the mainstream culture labels them, because to hear them is ‘pun’ishment. But how did the concept of punmanship come about? And, more importantly, why do so many people take it upon themselves to tell these ‘shaggy dog stories’ despite such negative reinforcement (i.e. groans, thrown pillows, comments such as “You are so not funny!”, etc…)? The answers may surprise you.
An acquaintance of mine once said that "A pun is a lower form of humor, just like a bun is a lower form of bread." I think this sums up nicely the general conception of puns in modern times. Instead of patting ourselves on the back for a pun well done, we footnote the glorious tidbit of humor with the ever-insidious, “No pun intended.” But good punmanship has not always found itself on the permanent hate list of joke aficionados.
As far back as Ancient Greece, and probably before, puns were made. The most famous pun from this time is the classic translation of Jesus’ statement to Peter: "Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church." To an English speaking audience, this would not seem out of the ordinary at all, just another passage from the Bible without a pun in sight. But when one considers the language of one of the original translations of the Bible, Greek, the circumstances become much clearer. In Greek, the name Peter translates as ‘Petros,’ while the term rock translates as ‘petra.’ So, when those words are translated into Greek within the full context of the sentence, the sentence itself reads: “Thou art Petros and upon this petra I will build my church.
How to Cite this Page
"Pun With Language: The Role of the Pun Throughout the History of the World." 123HelpMe.com. 22 Jan 2020
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Explore Inspector Goole’s role within the play essay Inspector Goole is the prominent character in the play. This is even indicated before the audience is even introduced to him. The name ‘Goole’ sounds to the audience like ‘ghoul’, which is a pun. Priestly uses a pun to make the play more dramatically effective. The Inspector’s name seems to suggest a certain supernatural element to his character. You can see the contrast with this name and with the other characters in the play that all have names like ‘Sheila’ and ‘Eric’.... [tags: Character Analysis ]
1836 words (5.2 pages)
- Who Are You. I find myself struggling as I try to think of how to describe the different interacting social groups at my high school; Swansboro High School. Swansboro High School while being known for and having pride in its high levels of athletic competition especially in the sports soccer, tennis, track, and girls’ basketball, was often consumed in drama on a daily basis. As in the other local high schools in Onslow County, the drama usually stemmed from individuals in one social group having a problem with an individual from another group or even in the same group.... [tags: High school, Graduation, Extracurricular activity]
1139 words (3.3 pages)
- Warfare throughout the Western World underwent a massive change in the period of time ranging from the late 18th century to the conclusion of WWII. The French Revolution brought the concepts of nationalism and total war to the European Theater for the first time and set in motion the progression of war as a cause reliant upon garnering the support of a nations ' citizens. This support bled into the growing international theme of a unified, militaristic state throughout the latter half of the long 19th century.... [tags: World War I, World War II, Ottoman Empire]
1853 words (5.3 pages)
- What is Obesity. Obesity is increasing throughout the world and is a combination of poor food choices and physical inactivity. It is the the second leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States and is responsible for nearly 300,000 deaths per year. An obese human body consists of it carrying an excess amount of adipose tissue. Adipose tissue is an endocrine organ that secretes many products such as metabolites, cytokines, lipids, and coagulation factors. The human body needs some body fat for insulation, storing energy, and shock absorption, however obesity causes increased levels of circulating fatty acids and inflammation.... [tags: Obesity, Nutrition, Body mass index, Overweight]
723 words (2.1 pages)
- Quicken Loans Organizational structures throughout the world continue to evolve into various designs embraced by highly competitive corporations. Work environments surfacing encompass diverse work practices allowing employees to communicate from remote locations via teleconference as an example (Aghina et al. 2014). Regardless of the type of work environment, values possessed by individuals and/or corporations consistently affect job choices, work decisions and job satisfaction (Carpenter 2012).... [tags: Job satisfaction, Employment]
1122 words (3.2 pages)
- The world of role models in athletics has been around for millenniums and can be traced back as far as 776 B.C. when the athletes were thought to be demigods (half human and half god) and the first Olympic games took place on the site of Olympia. Though the only event was the 200-meter sprint, many people looked up to them and expected more than just a 200- meter sprint from these “god-like” men.(WEBSITE) Today, more and more people are beginning to look to athletes like the ancient Greek did: for more than just entertainment.... [tags: Athletes, Behavior, NBA, NFL]
893 words (2.6 pages)
- Families strolling, children squealing with glee, and adults gazing with interest; A typical day at the zoo. Animal-lovers rush throughout zoos in search of their favorite feline or lizard, while children smack on popcorn as they tap on glass enclosures. For hundreds of years people have gone to zoos in seek of entertainment. The zoo provides a fun and educational time for families, but the joy of seeing adorable creatures blinds spectators from seeing the pain zoo animals live with. People do not realize the harm zoos do to animals.... [tags: animals, entertainment, conservation, extinction]
1090 words (3.1 pages)
- Many Americans know about the propaganda used throughout World War II. Famous figures such as Uncle Sam and Rosie the Riveter were plastered on buildings across the country. What many Americans do not know about is the various propaganda used internationally during the war. Every nation involved had its own set of posters and messages with varying themes depending on the country. Probably one of the easiest nations for Americans to study the propaganda of is the United Kingdom if for no other reason than that they speak English.... [tags: World War I, World War II, British Empire]
1026 words (2.9 pages)
- Religion’s Role Throughout Persepolis Nowadays, there are many religions that one can choose from. Religion, to some, is a guide line, but to others it’s more like falling in love. In 1979, Iran was in the midst of the Islamic Revolution. During this time, some people held tight to religion while others let it go. Marjane Satrapi wrote Persepolis about her life at that time. At the beginning, Satrapi grasps religion tightly; however, by the end of the book, she seems to let it go. Throughout Persepolis, religion acts like a security blanket and enhances the understanding of the graphic novel’s theme, which is “stay true to yourself.” Religion can often be seen as a form of security.... [tags: M. Satrapi, book analysis]
1089 words (3.1 pages)
- Modernism is the term of deviating from the norm. In the early 1900s, modernism influenced women’s role in society by providing more opportunities, jobs, and role models for girls today, in society. In the 1920s-1940s, women were encouraged to step outside of the home and work, but on the other hand, women were also encouraged to be stay-at-home mothers. Women should stay at home if they have the ability to do so. However, women should not feel like they have to be isolated from the rest of the world with chores and children all day.... [tags: Women's Rights ]
1221 words (3.5 pages)
Even the great Roman philosopher and orator of no-small-repute, Cicero, was not above the occasional bit of witticism in pun form. When most people suffer the indignity of having the gravesite of their father plowed by a bumbling miscreant, they would take to arms immediately, or at least severely scold the perpetrator. Not so with Cicero.
Instead of taking the obvious route of lashing out at the offender, Cicero opted to severely ‘pun’ish him, saying "This is truly to cultivate a father's memory."
But the first great incorrigible punster in history was the great William Shakespeare.
The Bard himself made over 1000 puns in the combined body of his works. Most of these puns were spoken by fools or court jesters, but a fair amount of ‘pun’ny lines were given to his leads, such as Benedick, the wit-cracking, love-defying protagonist of “Much Ado About Nothing,” and the lovers of “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” who humorously tear apart the Rude Mechanicals’ performance of “Pyramus and Thisbie” with a stream of cleverly devised puns. Even Shakespeare’s play titles were not spared from his potent punnery. To use an earlier example, the title of his “Much Ado About Nothing” was, in and of itself, one giant pun. The actual play of “Much Ado About Nothing” contains many references to the noting of things. Whether it is Benedick noting a conversation by several of his friends about his love life, or the inept watchmen noting Don John, the play’s antagonist, and his scheming, noting abounds in this play. And so it is fitting that Mr. Shakespeare chose the title “Much Ado About Nothing”, with ‘nothing’ replacing ‘noting’, in reference to both the outcome of the play, and the fact that a great deal of noting goes on.
Puns have not only been used in literature, though. In times of war, puns have been used to relay messages back and forth in simple, ambiguous, yet at the same time witty, terms. Perhaps the most famous example of this, albeit a very unlikely one, came about following the defeat and retreat of the Spanish Armada by England. Sir Frances Drake, the man given command over the fleets of England, allegedly sent Queen Elizabeth a note bearing the word “Cantharides”, the name of an aphrodisiac also known as ‘Spanish fly’.
A more likely example of this kind of behavior among military commanders comes with the 1843 conquest of the Indian province, Sind. Wrote General Napier to his commanders after conquering the province: "Peccavi" (Latin for ‘I have sinned’).
With this much history on their side, it is a ‘pun’der that puns have not achieved a more socially acceptable role in modern civilization. Instead of being praised for making a pun, pun artists are frequently treated as if they had just expelled foul gas from a bodily orifice. One commonly held explanation for this sad state is the theory of “Punis Envy.” This theory suggests that the main reason people in general dislike puns is because they themselves did not make them. Said Oscar Levant, "A pun is the lowest form of humor - when you don't think of it first." The other side to this argument, however, is the point of view that no matter how it is made, it is impossible for a pun to inspire any form of jealousy in its listeners. Samuel Taylor Coleridge summed up this side of the debate nicely when he stated during a lecture on Shakespeare that punning "may be the lowest, but at all events is the most harmless kind of wit, because it never excites envy." Harsh words from an opium addict…
Opium addicts and “Punis Envy” aside, the root of the punning problem seems to lie solely in humor tastes. It has been centuries since the days when the world marveled at a well crafted pun, and tastes in humor have certainly changed with the years. Much like tastes in beauty, food, and music, human humor taste is a fickle one, changing and adapting to fit the circumstances and culture that it is thrust into. Humanity as a species has changed in the years since Shakespeare penned his last pun, so it only makes sense that our likes and dislikes in the world of comedy have also changed. However, changing tastes are no reason to cease fine punmanship, and there remain those in the human race (myself included) that love nothing more than to break out with a witty play on words when in a large group of people and watch as groans and grimaces overcome the company. Perhaps it’s some sort of visceral satisfaction at seeing others in a painless sort of misery of one’s own devising. Or maybe it is the feeling of outsmarting one’s compatriots. Whatever it is, though, the old saying still rings true: “The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees—I want punny. That’s what I want.”