Word play

Discussion in 'General Fiction' started by chokipokilo, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. chokipokilo

    chokipokilo Unreasonable reasoner

    Nov 26, 2008
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    I was wondering what authors play with English language in creative ways. Thinking along the lines of what Cervantes did with Don Quixote...except in English...using the peculiars of the language in comical and interesting ways.
  2. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

    Jun 16, 2009
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    Whilst not one for 'general fiction', Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld series often has names and jokes that rely on puns and wordplay. Oh, and a knowledge of British culture...
  3. Hitmouse

    Hitmouse Registered User

    Jul 11, 2009
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    Ogden Nash all the way:

    The Rhinoceros
    The rhino is a homely beast,
    For human eyes he's not a feast.
    Farewell, farewell, you old rhinoceros,
    I'll stare at something less prepoceros.

    The Lama
    The one-l lama,
    He's a priest;
    The two-l llama,
    He's a beast.
    And I will bet
    A silk pajama
    There isn't any
    Three-l lllama.

    The Panther
    The panther is like a leopard,
    Except it hasn't been peppered.
    Should you behold a panther crouch,
    Prepare to say Ouch.
    Better yet, if called by a panther,
    Don't anther.

    The Cow
    The cow is of the bovine ilk;
    One end is moo, the other, milk.

    The Jellyfish
    Who wants my jellyfish?
    I'm not sellyfish!

    The Duck
    Behold the duck.
    It does not cluck.
    A cluck it lacks.
    It quacks.
    It is specially fond
    Of a puddle or pond.
    When it dines or sups,
    It bottoms ups.

    The Firefly
    The firefly's flame
    Is something for which science has no name
    I can think of nothing eerier
    Than flying around with an unidentified glow on a
    person's posteerier.

    For prose, PG Wodehouse is very hard to beat.
  4. Randy M.

    Randy M. Registered User

    Sep 2, 2005
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    I haven't attempted Finnegan's Wake but Joyce is said to have tweaked the language until it yowled. (Or maybe that was his readers.)

    Probably an easier read would be S. J. Perelman. He wrote short works -- fiction and essays -- and was very fond of out of date words. Imagine capturing the essence of Groucho Marx-like humor in print, and you have Perelman.

    James Thurber's The Wonderful O is along these lines, too: What happens when pirates steal the letter O? It's good fun and a very fast read.

    Randy M.
  5. Sfinx

    Sfinx Life's a riddle

    Nov 27, 2007
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    Hmmmm....PG Wodehouse comes to mind ("Very good," I said coldly. "In that case, tinkerty tonk." And I meant it to sting.)

    Gene Wolfe is a fine example of someone who uses the full width and depth of the english language (condider the hipparch, carnifex or epopts appearing in his Books of the long/new/short Sun). Umberto Eco also uses language as an integral part of his storytelling, eg. in Name of the Rose. AE van Vogt introduces 'general semantics' in his Null-A (i.e. Non-Aristotelian logic) novels..but I'm drifting i fear...

    Highly original use of typeface and page layout: House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski.

    And one the best in using the peculiars of the language in comical and interesting ways: René Goscinny, author of Astérix :)