Mixing Memory

Puns

I’ll get back to substantive posting in a bit, but as the semester wraps up, I wanted to ask for your help. Over the years, punning has become a more and more integral part of our lab meetings. It’s reached the point, in fact, that our P.I. can barely utter a single non-pun sentence, even outside of the lab. On a recent plane trip, he tempted fate by punning with airport security when the refused to let him take his yogurt on the plane, yelling, “These people are discriminating against my culture!” We’re also not entirely convinced that he isn’t with his wife because she called her ex-husband a “faux-pa,” in reference to his parenting.

Yeah, it’s that bad.

So, with all these puns flying around, I’ve decided that it is imperative that we do a study on puns. I’m pretty sure we’ll need to do some imaging, too. The thing is, we can’t find a lot of actual research on puns (just a bit on cue competition, ambiguity resolution, and suppression, though only in a couple cases is it directly applied to puns). So, my request to you is, a.) do you know of any research outside of cognitive psychology and psycholinguistics on puns, and b.) can you give me some puns of your own? Remember, it’s all in the name of science, so don’t be shy. Give me the worst puns you can possibly conjure.

Comments

  1. #1 cephyn
    May 7, 2008

    I have been known to make so many puns, my friends dubbed me The Punisher.

    My other comment would be, research on puns? what, you didn’t find any the first time you searched?

  2. #2 Joe Shelby
    May 7, 2008

    Discussing allergies with friends, my wife said that she is pretty much allergic to anything “airborn”.

    I said, “yeah, and when the 101st drops down, it’s horrid.”

  3. #3 Chris
    May 7, 2008

    Oh man!!!

  4. #4 chet snicker
    May 7, 2008

    I’ll get back to substantive posting in a bit

    shall be so bold as to ask, what gentlemen plays the game of excuse and explanation? stand as you were; not as you wish to be.

    sincerely,
    c.v. snicker

  5. #5 Scott Belyea
    May 7, 2008

    Ogden Nash:

    I am a conscientious man.
    When I throw rocks at sea birds I leave no tern unstoned.
    I am a meticulous man.
    When I portray baboons I leave no stern untoned.

  6. #6 Who Cares
    May 7, 2008

    Not a study but a good read: Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon books by Spider Robinson.
    They are absolutely stuffed with puns.

    There is a usenet group: alt.humor.puns

    Own puns:
    I knew a lumberjack, before he got axed.
    Or the beekeeper who is trying to bee all that he can.
    The local baker quit, he couldn’t make puns.
    Know why the dockworkers went on strike? Their pay got docked.
    Heard about the general who was in bed with the enemy? He was trying to make love not war.
    Punning isn’t for groan-ups.
    Heard about the camera manufacturer that got shuttered?
    I had a pen friend until they fried his bacon.

  7. #7 Jon Nordland
    May 7, 2008

    First off. HAHAHA to the “discriminating against my culture!”. That made my day here.

    Second, for some reason I seem to put puns and metaphors in the same category of human abilities. Kinda weird since one is based on abstractions and the other on dual meaning. And yet I think of them as the same thing. What they DO have in common is; “human ablity to see stuff from different views/perspectives”. Maybe i should postulate a cognitive module for creative thinking for it…

    If anybody could enlighten me from my ill conceived attempts at lone brainstorming? :)

    Anyways. Just thinking openly.

    Love your site!

    _Jon Nordland.

  8. #8 Who Cares
    May 7, 2008

    You heard what happened to Frankenstein? He had a brainstorm

  9. #9 memorabilious
    May 7, 2008

    Long ago I was asked to help get rid of some paperwork by an old boss, an Italian. He said ”Euripides, I rippa doze” and laughed to himself all afternoon ( you can?t make this stuff up..)

  10. #10 Who Cares
    May 7, 2008

    As long as you don’t get embossed.

  11. #11 Gebstadter
    May 7, 2008

    I had a friend who entered an internet pun competition once. You were allowed to submit as many puns as you wanted, so he thought for a while and submitted the ten best ones he could think of. He hoped one of them would win, but sadly, no pun in ten did.

  12. #12 serapio
    May 7, 2008

    @Jon
    Indeed, puns and metaphors are clearly both examples of conceptual blending.

  13. #13 CA
    May 7, 2008

    Rumor is that Chris’ dad used to be among the worst punners. He often said that “Wierd is relative. In fact, most of your relatives.” Maybe too often.

  14. #14 Chris
    May 8, 2008

    serapio, with that comment, you’ve just become my new favorite commenter… heh. Anyone else who makes a joke at the expense of the cognitive linguists, in any comment thread, will also be my favorite commenter. Have at it. Also, expect a post railing — and I mean railing — against cognitive linguistics soon. I’m disgusted, and the only thing holding me back is that at this moment, I don’t think I can say what I want to say with even a modicum of temperance.

    And my dad is a pretty bad punner, ’tis true. Perhaps there are Freudian reasons why I want to study this now.

  15. #15 anon
    May 9, 2008

    There’s a short story by Asimov in “Robot Dreams”, I think, where a grandmaster teaches a supercomputer to tell jokes. The analysis on jokes reveals that our sense of humor is an artificial part of an extraterrestrial experiment. Once the grandmaster discovers this, the sense of humor was taken away from all humans, leaving people with only their natural, unfunny, self-developed form of joke: the pun.

    Worth checking out =)

  16. #16 Al
    May 10, 2008

    You might want to contact one of the authors on this paper:

    http://jocn.mitpress.org/cgi/content/abstract/19/10/1706

  17. #17 Donalbain
    June 17, 2008

    I was at a recent conference, and was taking a drink in the hotel bar. Some guy I never met came up and started telling me how much he liked the paper I had just delivered. It was very nice of him to say so, and I thanked him. But then he got a little personal and started asking all sorts of questions. Not to do with my research, but about my home life, my family and so on. I was, to be honest a little uncomfortable, so I left him in the bar and went into the hotel lobby.

    I went out from the prying fan and into the foyer!

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.