A Brief History of the Pun
By Maria Popova
It’s no secret we’re obsessed with language — from the secret histories of words to how language works in the brain the uses and abuses of words to how history’s greatest literary icons do snark.
So we’re ecstatic for the release of John Pollack’s The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics — an entertaining and illuminating exploration of how wordplay evolved to be much more than a cheap linguistic thrill or the product of bottom-feeder copywriters.
[W]hat, exactly, is the link between punning and civilization? What cultural, emotional or functional needs does it fulfill across so many centuries and continent=s? What makes wordplay in general, and punning specifically, such an enduring part of language? Could it be biological and, if so, what evolutionary purpose might it serve? And why should laughter itself even matter in the survival of the fittest?” ~ John Pollack
Pollack, a former presidential speechwriter for Bill Clinton tackles the subject with equal parts cultural irreverence and linguistic rigor. See for yourself: The Morning News has an excerpt of The Pun Also Rises for your sampling pleasure.
Published April 14, 2011