One doesn't really understand a language until one is able to mix its sounds and meanings in clever play to produce nonsense that almost means something to someone familiar with the language's music. I once had a grand and punny session with two Germans and an Australian while travelling on a Swiss train. Few of our stories were meaningful to each other. Play on words is an ancient and honourable pastime. In the Old Testament, people often gave their children names that sounded like a description of current events or personalities. The best pun in the New Testament is: "You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church." ("rocky"--Peter vs "the mountain"--Christ.)
Puns are safe humour; they hurt no one. People who hear them usually groan. This means they are envious of the punster's sense of humour. They wish they could have thought of the play.
A few examples: (See also the shaghoot page.)
Opun the door. (opundo)
(at a pun cafe) I'll have a double entrentre.
A notorious punster was sentenced to be hung for crimes against the language. Given one last chance to repent, he looked up, then said, "No noose is good news." They hung him.
(One children like)
Q What's the difference between unlawful and illegal?
A One is against the law, but the other is just a sick bird.
A small category is a kittygory, or perhaps it's roadkill.
You've heard about the man who married the electrician's daughter because he got such a charge out of her he couldn't resister?
There are endless fish jokes:
Salmon, what's that fish you cod?
The religious one.
What religious? Tuna it over so's I can see... Holy macko dare saphire!
When men get older, they often get the cabinet makers' disease. Their chest falls into their drawers.
What a mathematician sings when she cuts down trees: a logarithm.
The best puns play repeatedly.
Three brothers inherited a ranch from their father. They decided to call it "focus," because that's where the sons raise meet.
What subconstellation is named after an Irishman's drink? Orion's belt.
A rope was denied admission to a bar, so he disguised himself by tying himself up and mussing his hair. The bartender was suspicious and demanded, "Are you a rope?" The reply, "I'm afraid not."
On one of my old physics exams, I provided the mass and density of the planet Mirth and required students to compute the gravitational constant. The answer was 8.2 metres per second squared. The bonus question: "Why is it called Mirth?" The correct answer: "There's less gravity there."
These usually require some knowledge of a second language, and are not easy to arrange. My best effort came during the spring 2001 transit strike in Vancouver, when we started the work week with an unusually good day.
Sick transit, glorious Monday.
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