Words at play!

Apr 23, 2013
The other day, I commuted with some kids calling out puns to one another. Each was followed by a little chuckle. Then came this one: “Did you hear about the man who was tap dancing? He broke his ankle when he fell into the sink.” They didn’t get it. Another passenger leaned in to the kid closest to her and said ‘a faucet is sometimes called a tap.’ He triumphantly explained the pun and they all finally laughed. This story brought out Jessica and my shared love of puns over coffee (and smoothie) one morning. Language is playful. Words are the jokesters. It is word play that makes up the first jokes you learn when you are young. Remember this favorite from second grade? “Why was 6 scared of 7? Because 7 ate (8) 9!” Puns may seem like silly bits of fun but they do more than just make kids giggle. They teach grammar when you aren’t even looking. (Told you those words were tricksters!) They help kids learn homophonic, homographic, metonymic and metaphorical language even if they don’t know that name of it. And of course, they teach vocabulary (even on NJ Transit trains at 7:00 am!) Elementary school isn’t the only place for puns, though. Puns also have played with their way through literature. Mark Twain used them: “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt” “Familiarity breeds contempt. And children.” Shakespeare did too! The very first line of Richard III is a pun: “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious by this son of York.” In Romeo and Juliet, he has the dying Mercutio say the line “Tomorrow…you shall find me a grave man.” Proof that you never outgrow a pun! But let’s be honest here…the idea to write this blog post together was really just a perfect excuse to exchange puns! We couldn’t resist sharing some of our favorites with you: “No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationary.” “Police were called to a daycare where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.” “I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.” “I used to have a fear of hurdles, but I got over it.” “Without geometry, life is pointless.” “I was going to look for my missing watch, but I could never find the time.” Now it’s your turn to play with your words! Heard any good puns lately? Share them with us in the comments! -Michael and Jessica