Sunday, 21 October 2012

Homonymic schomonymic. They're puns already

Gwynneth Lewis, the first Welsh Poet Laureate, on the radio just now said that Dafydd ap Gwilym had done something /frɒm ðə geʔ gəʊ/. And because her accent was quite broad, and I was expecting lilting things like /’let.tə/ for ‘letter’, I misheard in a way that suggested a reptilian version of ‘from the horse’s mouth’. But geckos don’t enjoy the same position as horses in figurative English, so I was momentarily flummoxed.

But she wasn’t in the least aware of any possible pun; the perpetrators of puns often aren’t, particularly when the pun is in the mind of the listener – and depends on over-interpretation of an accent that the speaker, quite naturally, sees as unimpeachable. Perhaps the most interesting puns are ones like this – where the speaker is unaware of the pun (or ‘homonymic clash’, as I learnt to call puns when I was studying at the feet of Doctor (now Professor) Erik Fudge. [Sic]

+ various updates to the footer, the most recent being on 2013.10.06.12:05

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