IT AIN’T LIPSTICK
What’s so funny about this? Some people would call this a “dafffynition” which is itself a pun on “definition.” “Daffy” means crazy or strange, as in the cartoon character Daffy Duck. The object here is to take a common word and change the meaning or definition by punning with the sounds and letters of the word. Generally, this works best with longer words but not always. In the case of today’s joke, we start with the word abomination, a noun meaning something which causes disgust, hatred or loathing, in other words something not very nice. That’s the DEFinintin. But for our DAFFYnition, we’re going to break the word down. The best way to do that is by looking at each syallable, that is, the pronunciation unit with a distinct vowel sound. There can be several ways to do this depending on how the vowels are clustered. To make this joke work, we can say that “abomination” has five syllables, namely a-bom-i-na-tion. Now we look for homophones or words that sound the same as these syllables. The first one is the article “a”. That’s easy. Next we have the syllable “bom”, which is a homophone for bomb, spelled b-o-m-b.. The short “i” sounds like i, but said quickly it’s hard to distinguish it from a schwa sound. If we combine the last two syllables we actually get the real word “nation”. So, if said kind of quickly, abomination could sound like “a bomb a nation,” meaning one bomb for each nation or country. And these are nuclear bombs too, probably enough to wipe out life on the planet, or most of it. So yes, I’m being sarcastic because I’m disgusted by, as well as hate and loath any and all bombs and I’m opposed to any nation having even one nuclear bomb, let alone a stock pile, the way Russia and the US do. And THAT’s not funny at all!
BY THE SKIN OF HIS TEETH
Origin: 16th Century, British English - The expression was being translated from the original Hebrew in an early bible. So the concept goes back at least to biblical times. The question in my mind is whether the ancient expression was being completely metaphorical since human teeth don’t have skin. Or was the writer simply referring to the gums, the skin around the teeth?
Usage: Informal, spoken, general, American and British English
Idiomatic Meaning: Barely or narrowly making a deadline or escaping from disaster
Literal Meaning: In this case the expression can mean either escaping by using the gums or the teeth or by being next to the gums or the teeth. However if the expression is not written but only spoken, then “b-y” could also be “b-u-y”, meaning to purchase the skin of someone’s teeth.
Why is this funny? In the photo we see two people watching a dentist work on a third person, presumably an older friend or relative. The dentist tells them that they arrived at the last possible second (by the skin on their teeth) if they wanted to save the old man’s teeth. The dentist was just about to pull them out. However, the woman tells the dentist that they don’t really have enough money to pay the dentist for his work. In fact they only have enough to purchase or to “buy” the old man’s gums. In other words, to “buy the skin of his teeth.”
Sample sentence: The deadline for submitting a bid was 3:00pm; we made it by “the skin of our teeth.”
Linguistic Relativity. The more you think about it the more interesting it becomes. Literally…
Beautifully made video, but the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis has at least had tons of doubt cast upon it and has at most been totally refuted by linguistics studies D:
I think it’s important to differentiate two ideas here.
- Linguistic Determinism (Sapir-Whorf): if your language doesn’t describe something, you can’t think of it. So languages without a series of strong verbal tenses leaves its speakers without a concept of time.
- Linguistic Relativity: your language will influence your brain and reinforce certain things over others. Languages that prefer passive voice to describe certain actions (like something breaking) cause their speakers to pay less attention to who did the action, while ones that prefer active voice are more likely to blame someone for it.
The first has been refuted countless times in the last 60 or so years. However, the second is a new spin on Sapir-Whorf with what some linguists (or rather, cognitive scientists) view as valid. It’s kind of like “Sapir-Whorf light” and it isn’t so black-and-white.
I’m not sure where I stand on relativism; some of the work that’s been done is pretty interesting and some of it is presented fairly convincingly, even for a skeptic like me. Why is it that Germans tend to describe keys with more masculine adjectives, while Spaniards tend towards feminine keys? Why do Russians seem to categorize blue colors faster than English-speakers? Why do people with absolute directional words (north, south, east, west, as in Guugu Yimithirr) remember placement of objects differently than those with relative direction (left, right, in front, behind, as in most languages)? The results of the experiments have been really interesting to read, but sometimes I question the methods used (particularly in how grammatical gender affects how people view inanimate objects).
Of course, you have to watch where you read about relativism. When it’s transmitted through the mainstream laypeople, it tends to be warped to more Sapir-Whorfian extremes, but the actual conclusions drawn by those doing the research are careful not to let it get lost in the menacing shadow of its predecessor.
BY ANY OTHER NAME
What’s so funny about this? We haven’t had a limerick in quite a while and this one’s a doozy. It follows the rules of limerick construction as far as meter, rhyme and length of line, but it’s unique in that to a listener it could sound as if the same word were being used to rhyme all five lines. In fact that word it does have the same phonemes however it’s actually five different words, three of which are spelled the same and two of which are also spelled the same. There are two groups of homonyms here, one group with three words and the other group with two, and ALL five words are homophones, making it pretty special. You could almost call it a bouquet of roses. The first homonym is “Rose”, spelled r-o-s-e. “Rose” is the name of a girl. Notice that for the sake of meter or timing of the first line, the word “by” is omitted. The second “rose” is the past tense of “rise.” The last “rose” is the red flower. The other homonym is “rows” spelled r-o-w-s. As a noun, a row can mean an aisle, a space where things are in line. It can also be a horizontal line of some things. The second “rows” is a third person singular verb, meaning to power a small rowboat by means of oars. So we have a young lady, Rose, who rises without looking down. We learn that she rising from a rowboat that is powered by her rowing. The narrator is obviously smitten with this young lady and has given her a rose flower. And THAT’s what’s so funny and sweet.
What’s so funny about this? I’ve been doing these jokes now for 3 ½ years, and I believe that this is the first “knock-knock” joke that I’ve done. If you like it, let me know and I’ll do some more. “Knock-knock” jokes are an American style of punning that goes back at least 100 years. They are mostly told by children to each other and they serve as training grounds for understanding and telling jokes. Usually they are very corny and not particular funny or clever, but adults can tell “knock-knock” jokes too, and these will hopefully be a little funnier. Anyway, the format is always the same. They all begin with a knock on the door, signified by the words “knock-knock”. The response is also always the same - the listener asks “who’s there”? Next comes the set-up, usually in the form of a single word, common or famous name, or simple phrase. The listener, then repeats the word/phrase and adds the word “who?”. This allows the first person to complete the joke with a punchline that is almost always a pun on the word or phrase. By the way, “knock-knock” jokes have the same “rules” as most silly riddles. The listener is never supposed to know the answer to the provoking question. This allows the joke teller to reveal the punchline. In today’s joke, the listener learns that it’s a person called “Duane” who’s “knocking” on the door, or at least that’s what we’re supposed to think. Of course, in the punchline, we learn that “duane” is not the name of a person at all; rather, it’s the verb “drain” , d-r-a-i-n, pronounced by a person with a speech impediment who pronounces R’s as W’s. Not only that but she’s in a bathtub and needs the water duaned or drained, that is, let out, because she is dwowning, or drowning. And THAT’s what’s so funny!
What’s so funny about this? I suppose this joke works even without the cartoon. After all, that’s how I originally read it. But you have to admit (I hope) that the toon significantly enhances the joke with the visual element of Dee being legless. We see a perfectly normal situation in a park somewhere. In the foreground we see a young woman apparently talking to someone whom we can’t see. The cartoon is like a photograph so the character near us is larger than the characters in the rear. In fact, the closer character’s legs do not appear, seemingly because of the way the image is framed. Our minds tell us that we just can’t see her legs. The two characters in the rear are talking about this young woman. The character “F” is asking the character “M” who the new girl is. The new girl must be a stranger and just newly arrived in this community. “M” already knows who she is, at least her name. He tells F that her name is “Dee”. We can see how the name is spelled, but if you only pronounce it, it sounds like the letter “D”. It can be an actual name of a person too. However, F seems to think that Dee is not her full name. Some people do use letters as nicknames, for example Mr. T. or the character “G” on the TV program “NCIS Los Angeles”. So F asks M what Dee is short for, and M tells her that Dee has no legs. This is because F’s question could also be interpreted as “Why is Dee short?”. And we as viewers realize that what we see of the young woman, Dee is all there is to see. And THAT’s what’s so funny, in a sick kind of way.