The Warrior Ledger

That´s Pretty Punny! An Origin Story

Elizabeth Bodily, Reporter

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Puns are something that have been incorporated into our everyday life. Whether they are intentional or not, it is practically impossible to go one day without hearing a pun. You may like them, or you might not, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are here. The real question here is how they became such a big part of our society.

Almost every major language uses puns. Puns are universal. Whether you’re like Senior Josh Painter, “I absolutely love puns. I use them all the time,” or Senior Brinley Winberg “They make me want to die,” they’re a part of everyone’s lives. So why not read about how they came to be?
Sometime around 1640, the earliest use of a pun was recorded. “That’s really weird. I want to know what the pun was and if it’s still funny by today’s standards,” said Senior Nataly Soto. Though highly likely the pun was used in one of the commonly put on plays, no one is certain what the pun was or where it came from.

One of the meanings of the word pun is ‘to pound’ or beat something. As a result, when asked by people what pun meant, a popular answer was “Would you stop pounding us with such questions?”. How appropriate.

A few have tried to study and define the word pun. As a result, many different meanings were given to it such as ‘to pound’ or beat something. Some said it meant a play on words or a mix between a puzzle and conundrum.

Around that time, plays were one of the main forms of entertainment for the people. A comedic play written by Abraham Cowley describes a Mr. Puny as a ‘young gallant, a pretender to the wit’. At this time, names describing the characters characteristics or lifestyles were popular to use in plays such as Mr. Slang.

In the play Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare cleverly adds in a pun before the death of Mercutio in act 1. Mercutio, after being lethally stabbed in the stomach, playfully adds, “Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find a grave man,” before falling to the ground and perishing. The audience promptly booed the pun Shakespeare made and continued observing the play.  “I thought that pun was hilarious,” said Nataly “It was very fitting for his character. I love all the puns in Romeo and Juliet.”
Dating as far back as the seventh-century dozens of writings and Sanskrit are filled with Puns. Ancient writers and poets often inserted humorous texts into their writings. One such example is found in a subhashita and states ‘Its beginning is its end. Its middle is its middle. If you don’t know this, you don’t know anything’.

Upon discovering how early puns date back to, Brinley questions “Why are puns things that people are still doing?” In the past, puns were a sign of high intelligence. They were a tool to pack more meaning into fewer words and demonstrated that you had the intelligence to use words economically. Due to this reason, puns were often thrown into everyday conversations. “I use puns often, but can’t think of them on command,” said Nataly.

Gradually, over time, people used puns more often. People use them today because it has become embedded in their culture. Everyone wanted to be seen as intelligent, so, as a result, everyone started using puns. Now that they’re here, they’re not going anywhere else.

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That´s Pretty Punny! An Origin Story