Tag Archives: bbc

In Defense of the Pun

To pun or not to pun, that is the question. The lowest form of wordplay, or an ancient art form embraced by the likes of Jesus and Shakespeare, asks Sally Davies.


No pun is an island. Within less than a mile of my house in Brooklyn, a wanderer will find:


  • Fish & Sip, a coffee and seafood joint
  • Prospect Perk Cafe, an allusion to the restorative properties of caffeine and of nearby Prospect Park
  • The Winey Neighbor, a liquor store that pays homage to the venerable New York tradition of grumbling about the noise from the apartment next door

Where good humour and refreshments abound, puns seem to follow.

Yet this neat little linguistic device – which exploits the multiple meanings of words or phrases that sound the same or similar – is considered by its detractors to be as irritating as it is irrepressible.

In the English-speaking world, punning is viewed as more of a tic than a trick, a pathological condition whose sufferers are classed as “compulsive”, “inveterate” and “unable to help themselves”.

via BBC News – The pun conundrum.

The 2011 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction



…is awarded to Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-62 by Frank Dikötter


“This meticulous account of a brutal man-made calamity is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the history of the 20th century. With access to hitherto hidden archives, Frank Dikötter has created a harrowing, superbly-written indictment of Mao’s disastrous revolutionary experiment that led to the unnecessary deaths of 45 million Chinese people. This epic record of human folly is stunningly original and hugely important, and casts Chinese history in a radical new light, with a devastating psychological portrait of the dictator whose “Great Leap Forward’ plunged China into catastrophe.”

via The 2011 Prize | Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction | The UKs most Prestigious non-fiction award | The UKs richest non-fiction prize.