Friday, August 6, 2010

Fun with phrases that employ similar phonemes to humorous effect

It's true that all last post, I glorified Melvil Dewey and his campaign to simplify the English language. But for all that I love order and tidiness and systems that make sense, I'm kind of glad he didn't succeed.

If he had, I never would have had the opportunity to feel like a big shot for getting my photo in the paper prior to my appearance at the Toledo Blade Spelling Bee. Yeah! Spelling bees are fun! And if Melvil had succeeded, I also never would have experienced the crushing defeat that comes after forgetting to put the P in "neuropathy." ... Never mind. Spelling bees aren't that much fun after all.

But if we reformed our language, we'd also lose the opportunity to ponder those funny inconsistencies that are so...ponderable. Like, why is it that a "prisoner" is someone in prison, but a "jailer" is someone who puts people in jail? See? Inconsistencies are fun! Oh—here's another one! Why is the suffix "ee" always used to convert a transitive verb into its object...except in the case of "attendee", in which "ee" is used to convert a transitive verb into its subject? Huh. That was a little complicated. Maybe inconsistencies aren't that much fun after all, either.

But wait! I know one thing about the English language that will always be fun! Puns! If all words that sounded the same were spelled the same, not only would their meanings be pretty confusing, but lots of jokes would lose their effect. In honor of jokes, take a gander at these uproarious buckets of humor! (Yes, I made them up.)
Q:What do you call the person who gives the central speech at a grain farmers' convention?
A: The quinoa-oat speaker!
Did you hear the one about the raisin who decided to write its life story?
Yeah. It's called, "As I Lay Drying."

How about the one about the compulsive crafter?
The title is, "As I Lay DIYing."
Cue the laugh track, and give thanks for English!


Tariq said...

I think we're going to have to put you in the PUNishment box!