Saturday, May 28, 2011 5:00pm ET.

The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics

Come for pun fun with author John Pollack and our own punaise. Be here or be square.

A former word pun champion’s funny, erudite, and provocative exploration of puns, the people who make them, and this derided wordplay’s remarkable impact on history.

The pun is commonly dismissed as the lowest form of wit, and punsters are often unpopular for their obsessive wordplay. But such attitudes are relatively recent developments. In The Pun Also Rises, John Pollack-a former World Pun Champion and presidential speechwriter for Bill Clinton-explains why such wordplay is significant: It both revolutionized language and played a pivotal role in making the modern world possible. Skillfully weaving together stories and evidence from history, brain science, pop culture, literature, anthropology, and humor, The Pun Also Rises is an authoritative yet playful exploration of a practice that is common, in one form or another, to virtually every language on earth.

At once entertaining and educational, this engaging book answers fundamental questions: Just what is a pun, and why do people make them? How did punning impact the development of human language, and how did that drive creativity and progress? And why, after centuries of decline, does the pun still matter?

Former presidential speechwriter John Pollack won the 1995 O. Henry World Championship Pun-Off. Earlier in his career, he wrote for The Hartford Courant and spent three years in Spain as a freelance foreign correspondent writing for the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Miami Herald, and Advertising Age, among others. His previous books include Cork Boat and The World on a String: How to Become a Freelance Foreign Correspondent. He currently works as a speechwriter and consultant for ROI Communication, a consulting firm. He lives in New York City. (Penguin)

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