Very punny

In a couple of classes yesterday we talked about puns. A pun is a humorous (or at least an attempt at humor) play on words. Here’s one example (from Just Something, which has many more):


It’s a play on the words “bear” and “bare”.

The pun we talked about yesterday had to do with May 4th being Star Wars Day: , because of the way “4th” sounds a little like “force”. Thus, “May the 4th be with you.” It works even better in Japan because in Japanese, “4th” and “force” are not only similar, but sound exactly the same: フォース。

When I first started learning Japanese, I was told that a pun was called 「かけことば」but I think these days, the word 「ダジャレ」is much more frequently used. Maybe my students can help me with the nuance, but I think 「掛詞」is more like what you find in haiku or waka, traditional Japanese poems. So the puns are somehow more intellectual or artistic. On the other hand, 「駄洒落」are puns that often make people groan and roll their eyes.

(gif from giphy)

That eye roll was pretty exaggerated. But this is how I feel when I see/hear some of these puns on TV commercials:

pun CM

If you’re ready to try some more English puns, here is a collection from the Telegraph: “A history of the world in funny puns”. Here are a few examples:

  • What do you call it when a dinosaur is involved in a car accident? Tyrannasaurus wreck
  • What did Romans use to cut string? A pair of Caesars
  • Which famous Roman suffered from hayfever? Julius Sneezer

That last one reminded me of a friend of the family when I was little. Her name was Julie and she had a pet snake. A boa constrictor. She called it Julie’s Squeezer.


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