Having Fun in the Pun

Angry Writing Utensil

-Marissa Tomko

In drafting this story, I started by taking notes on paper. But then my pencil broke, which was no good. To write with a broken pencil is pointless. So I went in search for a new one, but it was hard because I was feeling very confused. After all, I feel like we’ve all asked the question: 2B or not 2B?

I’m willing to bet most people have already stopped reading this because they hate puns so much. For those of you who haven’t, thank you! You are among the chosen few who appreciate this form of humor as much as I do!

As it turns out, puns have a long history. According to NPR, they date back to the seventh century BC, if not further. While most big languages have puns, English is one of the lucky few that is particularly punny. This is thought to be due to the fact that the language pulls from so many others, giving it a rather extensive vocabulary.

Another language word magicians would have pun with? Sanskrit. Former presidential speechwriter for Bill Clinton, John Pollack, says there’s a good chance that the word “pun” came from the language. In Sanskrit, “pundit” means someone who explains ambiguous situations, and there’s a good chance “pun” comes from the same root.

In an interview with NPR, Pollack gave an explanation as to what gives this kind of joke power, or PUNch if you will. It can be found both in the ambiguity of the wordplay and in its ability to build up more than one meaning into a phrase with fewer words.

For those of you who are looking to take puns to the next level, you might consider trying your luck at the annual O. Henry Pun-Off, where contestants pun away stand-up style!

If these jokes still make you wrinkle your nose like you smelled something pungent, calm down. Take a deep breath. And get some acuPUNcture. I hear it’s great for stress relief.

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