- Brain cells firing in the insular buttock during punning
Puns, I realize, aren’t everyone’s cup of tease. What’s brilliant to one person is moronic to another. There’s likely a wider gap between pun lovers and pun haters than between Democrats and Republicans. In a referendum on puns, voters definitely wouldn’t see aye to aye.
I myself am of the punning perversion. So I agree with the poet Ernest Hartsock, who once wrote that puns “are mainly objected to by Puritans” and that great literature “must arise from a healthy and daring experimentation with words”—an experimentation epitomized by punning. “I have a suspicion that a reason for the disdain of some of our pedants toward puns is a natural inability to grasp wit of any kind,” Hartsock said, “—yea, to grasp anything except an air of dignity.”
Hartsock’s essay, “In Defense of Punning,” was published in the linguistic journal American Speech. “The stigma of the pun has been long enough with us,” he observed. And he wrote this in 1929.