The Pun Also Rises

The Pun Also Rises

How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics

Book - 2011
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A funny, erudite, and provocative exploration of puns, the people who make them, and this derided wordplay's remarkable impact on history. The pun is commonly dismissed as the lowest form of wit, and punsters are often unpopular for their obsessive wordplay. But such attitudes are relatively recent developments. In The Pun Also Rises, John Pollack--a former World Pun Champion and presidential speechwriter for Bill Clinton--explains why such wordplay is significant: It both revolutionized language and played a pivotal role in making the modern world possible. Skillfully weaving together stories and evidence from history, brain science, pop culture, literature, anthropology, and humor, this is an authoritative yet playful exploration of a practice that is common, in one form or another, to virtually every language on earth.--From publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Gotham Books, c2011
ISBN: 9781592406234
1592406238
Branch Call Number: 808.7 POLLACK
Characteristics: xxv, 212 p. ; 20 cm

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leah_p Jan 20, 2015

In a way, the pun was humanity's first hyperlink, a way to identify and articulate potential connections that aren't necessarily or immediately apparent. Punning was and remains a way to sling a verbal rope, in an instant, across vast conceptual canyons. It is this same urge to imagine, explore and establish new connections that fuels creativity generally, and science specifically. Not that puns are a substitute for reason, but neither is reason a substitute for imagination... Puns reveal a mind free to roam frontiers of possibility, without shame or fear of being wrong.

leah_p Jan 20, 2015

In the modern world, learning one's ABCs is considered elementary learning. But when the alphabet as we know it was invented, its impact was dramatic and lasting... In the broadest terms, alphabetic writing suddenly endowed humans with the means to transmit detailed information with accuracy, both over distance and time... What enabled this key breakthrough? Again it was the human capacity to recognize the distinctions between sound, symbol and meaning, and our inclination to recombine them in assemblages of infinite variety-in a word, punning. Yes, the alphabet and the human progress it subsequently made possible flowed directly from both our ability and inclination to make puns... it was essentially punning - intentional and increasingly complex punning - that laid the foundation for alphabetic writing as we know it, which in turn made possible the accumulation of knowledge and the creation of the modern world.

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broo
Dec 23, 2013

"Hanging is too good for a man who makes puns; he should be drawn and quoted." - Fred Allen (!)

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Another_Opinion Aug 27, 2014

I really enjoyed this book.

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