What’s so funny about this? While there are many possible answers to the question of what is different between a magician and a psychologist, there’s really only one difference that can easily be spoonerized. I’m sure you are familiar with most of the vocabulary in the joke. However, you may not know that when people think of magic and tricks, pulling a rabbit out of a hat is the one that most people will think of. Perhaps in your culture a typical magician’s trick is making carpets fly or sawing people in half. The rabbit trick is very standard in the U.S. The magician shows you an empty hat then places the hat on a table which may or may not be covered by a table cloth. The magician then waves a magic wand, or stick over the hat which may or may not be covered; perhaps he says a few magic words like abracadabra and then, Poof! he sticks his hand into the hat and pulls out a rabbit, which was probably hiding up his sleeve or someplace like that. OK so much for magicians. Now let’s look at Psychology, the science of the mind. Psychology is a very large field. Some psychologists work with people as therapists, others do research with animals such as rats. Both study ways in which to influence and help people’s minds. Rats are very common test animals. Their minds have certain similarities to human brains. Both minds can form habits, or certain compulsive behaviors that they can’t control. So some psychologists try to cure these habits in rats, with the idea that if they are successful they can apply similar practices on human patients. That’s what the psychologist in the joke is doing. Note how the letters R and H have been switched in Rabbit, Hat, Habit, and Rat. Gee, maybe I need a psychologist myself. And THAT’s what’s so funny!
PODCAST - https://audioboo.fm/boos/2501604-how-re-tricks
What’s so funny about this? It’s been about a week since my last knock-knock joke. Since I didn’t get any threatening emails or facebook messages telling me to cease and desist or else, I thought I’d do another one. This one was actually in a list of “daffynitions”, those crazy definitions for ordinary words; most of them are natural puns. As such, they can very easily be turned into knock-knock jokes as can just about any pun. And it’s a lot easier to create a cartoon with characters talking then just a straightforward dafffynition. In the toon, we see a guy standing at a urinal, a urine specific type of toilet designed just for standing men. He’s standing there, taking care of business when he hears a knocking. Naturally, he asks who is there. From outside the bathroom he hears a voice say, “Diploma!” You most likely know that this is a certificate you get when you have completed your education. It can be for high school, college, university, trade school, whatever. In addition to a lot of fancy signatures and typefaces, they usually put a red or gold seal on a diploma to make it look special. Perhaps the guy who is urinating thinks it’s the mail man delivering a diploma he has forgotten about. He yells back, “Diploma who?” The next thing he hears is a voice explaining that it’s diploma who’s there to fix the pipes. This of course makes no sense if you’re only reading this. But when you hear the word “diploma” it sounds very much like a pun of the words “the plumber”, perhaps said with a foreign accent of some sort. Many people whose native language is not English have trouble with the TH sound of THE, and make it sound like the letter D. Many others, both native and non-native speakers will drop their final Rs, especially our British cousins. And if you say it quickly an O can easily sound like a U. So, “the plumber” becomes diploma”. And THAT’s what’s so funny, or at least I think so.
podcast - https://audioboo.fm/boos/2499338-post-grad
CAN YOU GUESS THIS IDIOMATIC EXPRESSION?
What’s so funny about this? In explaining today’s joke, you need to know that even though “dig” is most often a verb, when referring to archaeology (note the crazy spelling), it can be a noun used to describe a site where archaeologists are digging up the ground. The site or the entire expedition may be called “a dig”. In 50’s and 60’s slang, the verb “dig” also meant “to like”. You still hear the word used by older and/or former hippies, such as myself. If someone digs their work it can have this double meaning. The expression “getting stoned” also comes from the 50’s and 60’s (and the era of my youth). It’s slang for getting “high”, a term still used for the euphoric state one experiences when taking certain drugs such as marijuana. Of course, archaeologists are always digging around and removing stones, so we could say their work involves getting stoned. It’s an adjective here and not a verb, which would mean getting stones thrown at you. Finally, archaeologists spend time on the sites of ancient civilizations, the remains of which might still be partially standing, such as the temples on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. When there are partial buildings still standing after hundreds, or even thousands of years, these are called “ruins”. They might even be completely buried and then archaeologists dig them up. But “ruins” can be used idiomatically with the expression “in ruins” coming from the verb “to ruin” which means to destroy. For most people, if their career is in ruins, it means they’ve lost their job and will not work again in that field. However archaeologists spend their lives among ruins which is why they can happily admit that their careers are in ruins. And THAT’s what’s so funny!
podcast - https://audioboo.fm/boos/2497462-ancient-joke
It’s hard to use a word like preserve with a language. It’s not like putting jelly in a jar. A language is used. Language is consciousness. Everybody wants to speak English, but those lullabies that allow you to go to sleep at night and dream — that’s what we’re talking about. — Robert Holman, Listening to (and Saving) the World’s Languages. (via languagemysteries)
Ambiguous referential scopes
Series: The semantics and pragmatics of parent-child communication
The Many Faces of the Novel
Illustration for John Sutherland’s review of “The Novel: A Biography” by Michael Schmidt, appearing in the August 10 NY Times Book Review. Thanks to AD Nicholas Blechman!