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Playing with Words

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Humour permeates our lives. People tell jokes, make puns, and engage in witty banter. There is written humour in headlines and captions, in ads, on signs, t-shirts, and bumper stickers, and in the form of graffiti. Nowadays humour is available on the web and circulated by e-mail.

Playing with Words shows how every facet of language is exploited for humour. Where a word has multiple meanings or sounds like another, this is the basis for puns (A boiled egg is hard to beat). The word-building rules are used for clever compounds, smart blends and catchy phrases as in 'circulated by word of mouse'. Ambiguities in the syntax afford further scope for humour (Miners refuse to work after death), and the sounds of words can be exploited in humorous verse. There is also humour to be found in slips of the tongue, malapropisms, and funny misspellings.

Playing with Words also covers the subject matter of humour and the part it plays in society. It is an informed account in non-technical language, full of examples, a book to be read for information and for fun.

Published: Aug 1, 2007

Section Chapter Authors
Introduction Barry Blake
The nature of humour Barry Blake
What do people joke about? Barry Blake
Where humour is to be found Barry Blake
Laughs in the lexicon Barry Blake
Puns Barry Blake
Grammatical ambiguities Barry Blake
Jokes Barry Blake
Wit Barry Blake
Language in context Barry Blake
Errors Barry Blake
Rhymes Barry Blake
Beyond a joke Barry Blake
End Matter
Notes and sources Barry Blake
References and further reading Barry Blake
Index Barry Blake

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