The Pun Also Rises
How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some AnticsBook - 2011
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In a way, the pun was humanity's first hyperlink, a way to identify and articulate potential connections that aren't necessarily or immediately apparent. Punning was and remains a way to sling a verbal rope, in an instant, across vast conceptual canyons. It is this same urge to imagine, explore and establish new connections that fuels creativity generally, and science specifically. Not that puns are a substitute for reason, but neither is reason a substitute for imagination... Puns reveal a mind free to roam frontiers of possibility, without shame or fear of being wrong.
In the modern world, learning one's ABCs is considered elementary learning. But when the alphabet as we know it was invented, its impact was dramatic and lasting... In the broadest terms, alphabetic writing suddenly endowed humans with the means to transmit detailed information with accuracy, both over distance and time... What enabled this key breakthrough? Again it was the human capacity to recognize the distinctions between sound, symbol and meaning, and our inclination to recombine them in assemblages of infinite variety-in a word, punning. Yes, the alphabet and the human progress it subsequently made possible flowed directly from both our ability and inclination to make puns... it was essentially punning - intentional and increasingly complex punning - that laid the foundation for alphabetic writing as we know it, which in turn made possible the accumulation of knowledge and the creation of the modern world.
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