Monday, January 21, 2013

Paronomasia

Sally Davies:

The Roman orators Cicero and Quintilian believed that "paronomasia", the Greek term for punning, was a sign of intellectual suppleness and rhetorical skill.

...But regardless of its rationale, punning is clearly more than a mere linguistic fillip. And there may be reason to hope that the internet will restore its reputation. The efflorescence of punnery on social networking sites like Twitter, Tumblr and Reddit, which bulge with the fruits of meme generators, suggests that puns have become acceptable as part of the online conversation.

It may be only a matter of time until the pun rises once again. But for now, its future is an impunderable question.

There is a triune nature to my standard of what constitutes an excellent post. First, it has to be about something I genuinely find interesting; I'm not going to post something just for the hell of it. Even if I don't have anything to add, the excerpt has to be something I find thought-provoking. Second, of course, is satisfaction with what I've written. I might be happy with having said well whatever point I had to make, or I might just feel content with attempting, however clumsily, to develop a new line of thought.

Last, and by no means least, is choosing a title. Words or phrases that contain a certain poetic symmetry are always good. Apt song lyrics are even better. A delicious pun, though, adds what I feel to be an indispensable element of absurd humor, a heyoka-style reminder to not take anything, least of all oneself, all that seriously.