January 5, 2017

Seriously punny?

Here’s a good read (thank you, as always, Nautilus) on why we should take words (and writing) seriously. Especially puns. Why? Because the ambiguity our language offers isn’t simply an excuse for seriously unpunny puns, but an opportunity to explore

“how languages use words to capture reality and how the words we inherit as native speakers might in turn shape our vision of that reality”

and in particular that,

“Chinese tradition dictates that the words you utter can attract luck—either good or bad—into your life”

Our puns or plays on the ambiguity of words might seem light-hearted (or toe-curling) to English speakers but there’s a profound idea at work here – we need the ambiguity to avoid the need

“to create longer words to distinguish meanings, or become more inventive at coming up with massive collections of speech sounds.”

which doesn’t sound like much fun either. So next time someone tells you to stop playing with words, tell them language is a serious business. It could be a matter of life or death. Anyway, here’s / hear’s / heir’s / hare’s the full story: Why Chinese Speakers Cut Their Hair Before New Year’s

Thanks to punnypixels for the pun-tastic picture.

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About Richard Hill

Creative director, writer, designer, illustrator based in the UK with global project experience and consulting skills across sectors.

Latest Posts By Richard Hill


Experiences, Identity, Interaction, Language, Re-thinking, storytelling, strategy, Writing


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