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OP In a class that I'm taking we were told that punning was a strictly western phenomenon. English being one of the few languages in which it's possible. German and Japanese being examples given in which it's not possible. Opinions? If we were discussing in Russian would Ted be... Ted?
Rubbish. I was told a Sanskrit pun by an Indian professor. Japanese and Chinese lend themselves easily to punning. (Jiguchi is the Japanese word for pun.) I've heard puns and even told one in German. The people they have teaching today. Really.
There are several examples of puns in the Tanakh, from memory Jeremiah uses quite a few.
noho ora mai
I would have thought that every language in the world had punning and word-play. The Sumerians punned in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Not to mention that punning is an important element of haiku.
In a class that I'm taking we were told that punning was a strictly western phenomenon.
Which just goes to show you ya gotta challenge everything!
Read "Mau Mauing the Flack Catchers" by the guy who wrote "The Right Stuff" and whose name escapes me at the moment. It's a very short essay thing that I recommended to all reporters.
That'd be Tom Wolfe, methinks.
OP An important element of haiku, this I don't remember ever knowing. Maybe the puns have been lost on me in the translation. My japanese is limited to greetings and apologizing for not knowing japanese on the phone.
Nope. Ted would be Fyodor, or the bad smell coming from taking an illegal bribe.
Puns are, I imagine, ubiquitous. Romans and Greeks were quite fond of them. Semper ubi sub ubi.
Some of you will remember the almost rancorous discussion we had after I posted a reward for a joke that was (a) not a pun and (b) had no butt of the humor. Humor begins with puns.
Try telling a joke to a six-year-old. The ONLY thing they laugh at it puns. It's only later, when they become aware of sarcasm, hatred, malice, etc., that they begin to understand jokes that are not word plays.
I've always maintained that the maturity of a race or ehtnic group can be judged somewhat reliably by the self-deprecation of their humor. To perhaps stereotype a bit, Jews REALLY know how to laugh at themselves and certainly do not mind others telling Jewish jokes. Until recently, the same could not be said of, for example, blacks and Hispanics.
But as these groups become more aware of themselves and more comfortable with themselves, they are able to laugh at their own stereotypes.
Note that these are generalizations based on my own empirical observations.
Parenthetically, I've noticed that the more conservative Christians aren't there yet. I made the mistake recently of telling this joke where there was such a person present:
A Texan was sitting next to a born-again Christian on an airplane. The flight attendant brought the Texan a double whiskey neat and inquired of his seatmate if he would like a drink. The Christian drew back: "I'd sooner be raped by a thousand prostitutes than have liquor cross my lips."
The Texan handed the drink back to the flight attendant. "Hell, ma'am, take this away, I waren't aware we had a choice."
The person I told this joke to told me in no uncertain terms that I was going to Hell!
Oh well. At least I'm gonna be in good company.
And the Isrealites in old testament times used to take enemy's names and replace them with phonetically similar insults. I forget which king was renamed Dog's Vomit.
Effective resistance technique as the enemy would just think you were having trouble pronouncing his name.
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