Things that make you giggle about language.

For the discussion of language mechanics, grammar, vocabulary, trends, and other such linguistic topics, in english and other languages.

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Mr. Galt
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Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby Mr. Galt » Tue Aug 19, 2008 4:47 pm UTC

Linguistic Example Sentences, Bad Puns, and Paraprosdokians.

I'm not sure how many people enjoy this kind of stuff as much as I do, but I thought I might share it anyway.

I spent quite a lot of time just looking at and reading these and laughed at a good amount of them.
Its much funnier if you have a friend looking at these as well. Even better if you can work them into your daily communication.

Go go wikipedia!

Lingustic Example Sentences

Puns

Paraprosdokians

Triple Jokes

I particularly like the lexical ambiguity sentences.

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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby ZLVT » Tue Aug 19, 2008 5:28 pm UTC

The high level of ambiguity in English is a loathesome trait in my eyes ... except for when I'm employing it to confound others.

Triple jokes are amusing but not all that great, they're good for american sit-coms.

Puns offend me.

Paraprosdokians however, I see as making fun of the high level of ambiguity on English and of puns so they are quite amusing.
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby baker's kilobyte » Tue Aug 19, 2008 5:32 pm UTC

You know what this reminds me of? This. :lol:

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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Aug 19, 2008 5:34 pm UTC

I don't know that many other languages, but I *highly* doubt English is intrinsically as ambiguous as you always make it out to be, ZLVT. Sure, ambiguous statements can be made, but this goes for every natural language.

(And seriously: are you capable of making more than a couple consecutive posts in this forum that *don't* sound like you're simply hating on English? It's gotten really, really old.)
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby Mr. Galt » Tue Aug 19, 2008 9:27 pm UTC

Maybe the ambiguity is what makes me laugh.

Being in a constant state of confusion helps you make light of things, despite their meaning.

At least for me anyway. I can understand how it could also be incredibly frustrating.

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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby ZLVT » Wed Aug 20, 2008 2:56 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:I don't know that many other languages, but I *highly* doubt English is intrinsically as ambiguous as you always make it out to be, ZLVT. Sure, ambiguous statements can be made, but this goes for every natural language.

(And seriously: are you capable of making more than a couple consecutive posts in this forum that *don't* sound like you're simply hating on English? It's gotten really, really old.)


Yeah, that one was bitchy even by my standards, but my dislike of puns and triple jokes transends the language barrier like you couldn't belive.

I don;t know if I look for it or not, but I seem to strike ambiguities in English more than magyar. Hmmm, I'll keep an ear out for it to see how they compare.
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Aug 20, 2008 4:53 am UTC

ZLVT wrote:I seem to strike ambiguities in English more than magyar.

I would guess that you, like most of the people I've talked to who speak English and yet complain about ambiguities in their own newly learned language, do indeed simply notice it more in the new language than in your native one, because you're simply more familiar with the kinds of things people normally say in Magyar, and how they normally say them.

This isn't to say that the two languages definitely have the same potential for ambiguity, but I do really believe that they can't be all that far apart. Surely wordplay is possible in any natural language.
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby LittleKey » Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:38 am UTC

From the book "Anguished English" I've found a few really funny english mistakes. For example, "Marrying one woman is called monotony." I think he meant monogamy, but I can't be sure. And then never forget to remember the difference between "q" and "g". "When a boy and a girl are deeply in love, there is no quilt felt between them."

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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby drbhoneydew » Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:46 am UTC

The potential for ambiguity is part of the joy of English - the fact that you can leave it until the very last syllable in the sentence to (partially) collapse the meaning allows delay to play a large part in our humour. Analogously, triples just plain wouldn't work if the funny one was at the beginning.

There was a radio programme on a few months back that suggested that this was in part why we stereotype the Germans as humourless - delayed meaning gags are impossible for them because of word order, so their comedy has had to look elsewhere. Stewart Lee told a story of how he was touring Dresden with a German comedian who said to him "Of course it was a lot nicer here before you British firebombed it during the war," which I suppose one would classify as ironic deadpan.

I'm a big fan of the alluded pun, never explicitly stating it, but giving reward if one works it out.

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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby goofy » Wed Aug 20, 2008 12:46 pm UTC

drbhoneydew wrote:There was a radio programme on a few months back that suggested that this was in part why we stereotype the Germans as humourless - delayed meaning gags are impossible for them because of word order, so their comedy has had to look elsewhere.


Mark Liberman debunks a Guardian article that claims something similar. I don't think syntax has anything to do with alleged humourless Germans. The major difference in word order is that German puts the verb at the end of the clause. But German still has clauses like English. If you want to reveal something at the last moment, you save it til the last clause, just like English.

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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby AntonGarou » Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:05 am UTC

I like creative use of language in general and Puns in particular- especially double/triple language puns- my favorite button is γνψχ("Gam Ani Psichi" means "I'm crazy too" in Hebrew).Triple Jokes are nice too, if used the right way, but nothing beets puns for me.

@littlekey- I suspect these are intentional jokes, working on similar principles to the Triple Jokes(i.e. expecting one thing and getting another)
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Aug 21, 2008 2:28 pm UTC

AntonGarou wrote:@littlekey- I suspect these are intentional jokes, working on similar principles to the Triple Jokes(i.e. expecting one thing and getting another)

Given the context, no, I don't think so. They are actual examples from students' writing, each of which probably wouldn't have been sent in to the author if the teacher had reason to believe it was actually a clever intentional joke on the student's part.
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby Felstaff » Thu Aug 21, 2008 3:10 pm UTC

English is such a gay language. There's absolutely no ambiguity in it when I'm using it.

Anyway, aren't there threads already in existence devoted to pretty much everything being discussed in here? I mean, does it bring anything new to the table that hasn't already been covered?
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby AntonGarou » Thu Aug 21, 2008 6:48 pm UTC

Felstaff wrote:English is such a gay language. There's absolutely no ambiguity in it when I'm using it.

I'm glad to see you've got the happiness quotient of English nailed down as "high" :)
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby Delass » Fri Aug 22, 2008 2:29 am UTC

I think its the speakers and writers that are ambiguous, and not the language itself. If used with a straightforward purpose in mind, it can be unambiguous. However, a lot of people that I know have a habit of being ambiguous. Especially girls.

To make my point, the first few sentences were straightforward, but the final one was a little ambiguous.

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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby AntonGarou » Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:10 am UTC

Actually the words themselves are ambiguous in any natural language- try defining "table" or "furniture" in any formal manner, for example.Add in the fact that metaphors tend to proliferate rather easily(the back of the house) and you see that ambiguity is almost hardwired into natural languages.
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby protocoach » Fri Aug 22, 2008 8:24 am UTC

drbhoneydew wrote:The potential for ambiguity is part of the joy of English - the fact that you can leave it until the very last syllable in the sentence to (partially) collapse the meaning allows delay to play a large part in our humour. Analogously, triples just plain wouldn't work if the funny one was at the beginning.

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-ness problem...

That all important third syllable.

The thing that makes me laugh at English is how flexible it is as a language and how English speakers, myself included, pretty shamelessly steal from any and everything to get the point across. Things like "lulz" in everyday speak, snippets of Spanish in conversations between white kids, lolcat speak, all the random little shit you can do that adds to the meaning of the language by twisting it slightly.
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby Evilagram » Fri Aug 22, 2008 10:35 am UTC

I personally love the numerous ambiguities in language and the ways they can be abused. In particular I'm interested in the way humor works in regards to these. The triple joke has a wonderful perfected formula, but little finesse. Ideally there should be more build up until the joke hits you, but as a joke progresses the audience becomes more likely to realize the punchline.

On that note, I personally subscribe to the theory that jokes are a release of fear/anxiety. The ideal joke should build up as much fear of the punchline as possible, and then release it as quickly as possible. To parallel with the really good horror movies, you know something bad is coming, but you still scream/jump/gasp when it pops out because you won't know what method it will use to do so, or when it will happen.

Similarly I believe that the best jokes are black humor, which I'm especially fond of myself. This is because they build up and release much more fear than the standard joke. The trouble is that they also have a chance of going over badly with many audiences.


On a related note, I absolutely LOVE Paraprosdokians, they make you re-evaluate the sentence completely. Paradigm shifting is awesome in both senses of the word.

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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby Belial » Wed Aug 27, 2008 9:53 am UTC

AntonGarou wrote:Actually the words themselves are ambiguous in any natural language- try defining "table" or "furniture" in any formal manner, for example.Add in the fact that metaphors tend to proliferate rather easily(the back of the house) and you see that ambiguity is almost hardwired into natural languages.


A lot of people (De Saussure and Derrida among them, I'm sure) would argue that it's a natural property of any language, regardless of natural-ness. No matter how precise you make your language, the word for "table" will never actually be a table, and so there will always be slippage and ambiguity and change.
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby AntonGarou » Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:03 pm UTC

And these people are wrong IMO.Math is a language, a very formal language to be sure, but a language nonetheless.And it contains no ambiguity at all- probably because it consciously eliminates all the vague shorthand, metaphors, etc present in natural languages.In math the property "table" will be extremely well defined, because that what its rules of usage demand, but in natural languages no such disambiguation is necessary- indeed, it is undesirable since it causes unnecessary "work": why should people differentiate between a smallish board with legs and a largish floating board if both have the same uses?

PS.As a rule I think that post-modernism confuses POV and truth, as well as events and knowledge about them.
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby Belial » Wed Aug 27, 2008 6:34 pm UTC

Mmm. I would question math's status as a language at all, as it is not terribly useful for communication. It's more of a procedure or computation.

I thought you were making a distinction between naturally formed languages and things like Lojban: constructed, communicative languages.
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby Rinsaikeru » Wed Aug 27, 2008 8:12 pm UTC

Post-modernism exists for the sole purpose of upsetting anything accepted as concrete, for no other reason than to upset it. Language is ambiguous if you allow it to be. Any conversation can be made absolutely meaningless if you try to take it too literally, not literally enough, or attempt to whittle away at the intention. Yes the word table might be hard to define, and yes it may be completely ambiguous and not like a platonic table at all--- but damn it, if i tell you to sit at the dinner table, you'll know what I mean.

It's one of those irksome qualities of lit-crit that you'll get po-mo responses that will pick apart any cohesion but then not offer any solution. It's like WD-40 without duct tape.

I enjoy puns and paraprosdokian twists in language. Any rhetorical device, especially ones that make me laugh are worth their weight in ink. I particularly enjoy the bottom dropping out in paraprosdokian statements because it causes you to puzzle out what was intended by the speaker.
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby Silas » Wed Aug 27, 2008 9:22 pm UTC

Belial wrote:A lot of people (De Saussure and Derrida among them, I'm sure) would argue that [ambiguity] a natural property of any language, regardless of natural-ness. No matter how precise you make your language, the word for "table" will never actually be a table, and so there will always be slippage and ambiguity and change.

Ah, but such a language could be created. Let the word for each thing be the thing itself. It'll be completely unambiguous. What could be better? ... until the conversation turns to the war in Iraq.
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Aug 27, 2008 9:58 pm UTC

AntonGarou wrote:Math is a language, a very formal language to be sure, but a language nonetheless.And it contains no ambiguity at all.- probably because it consciously eliminates all the vague shorthand, metaphors, etc present in natural languages.In math the property "table" will be extremely well defined, because that what its rules of usage demand

Yeah, I'm going to agree that math isn't a language in the sense that lojban or English is.
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby sugarhyped » Fri Aug 29, 2008 3:54 am UTC

im taking my first linguistics class and we spent a lot of time talking about "Time flies like an arrow... Fruit flies like a banana." today.
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby Mr. Galt » Fri Aug 29, 2008 7:19 am UTC

Silas wrote:
Belial wrote:A lot of people (De Saussure and Derrida among them, I'm sure) would argue that [ambiguity] a natural property of any language, regardless of natural-ness. No matter how precise you make your language, the word for "table" will never actually be a table, and so there will always be slippage and ambiguity and change.

Ah, but such a language could be created. Let the word for each thing be the thing itself. It'll be completely unambiguous. What could be better? ... until the conversation turns to the war in Iraq.


Wouldn't the resulting dictionary be larger than most cities?

That would be pretty awesome.

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After thinking about it I went and found the largest published book I could find, just for kicks.

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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby Belial » Fri Aug 29, 2008 1:09 pm UTC

Mr. Galt wrote:Wouldn't the resulting dictionary be larger than most cities?


Actually, it would be the entire universe. Because that table isn't this table, and is therefore a different word.

In other news, I have this map of virginia. It's 1:1 scale. It's just not very portable. And kindof hard to see clearly.
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Re: Things that make you giggle about language.

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Aug 29, 2008 1:45 pm UTC

The image of covering Virginia entirely with a sheet of paper, which all the covered features are painted on, is funny for me.
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