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Bean Playing With Words & Always Love It

Word play is one of my favorite things ever. The clever use of words as well as the use of clever words never fails to delight me; and I think I have always “bean” playing with words and totally love it too!! Puns, riddles, poetry, spoonerisms, rhetoric, double entendre, and more; each of these offer themselves up for our joy in playing with words.

Like this fun and clever sign outside a neighborhood market and cafe called Blue Fog in San Francisco. While we had just had coffee elsewhere a few minutes ago, I know I will say someday in the future that I have bean here before!!

Playing With Words: What, Types, and etc…

I have talked in detail about word play in an earlier post titled Word Play and its Wonders. But just wanted to give you a quick refresher here.

Whats of Ways For Playing With Words

Word play is by definition, “the witty exploitation of the meanings and ambiguities of words.”

As for me, I have realized I respond to others with witty repartees more often than when I am trying to come up with them myself. Which is why my kids often find themselves on the receiving end of wry witty replies to something they said, or slightly sarcastic and mostly silly ‘mother knows best’ comments!

As for playing with words in general, there are so many ways we can do so. You can find many of them in my previous post here and mentioned earlier (and that post has links to other articles as well); I list a few below that I don’t think I have before.

Autogram

Lee Sallows invented the autogram (and coined the word itself). An autogram is a ‘self-documenting’ or ‘self-enumerating’ or ‘self-describing’ sentence; that is, it describes itself by providing an inventory of its own characters. See the below example to get an idea of the same:

 “This sentence has only six words.”

Backronym

A backronym, as the name suggests, is a reverse acronym, or an acronym formed backwards; well, kind of. It is deliberately formed from a phrase whose initial letters spell out a particular word or words, either to create a memorable name or as a fanciful explanation of a word’s origin.

Backronyms range from humorous and sarcastic ones to others that take on more serious notes (like AMBER alert, MADD for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or the APGAR score used for newborns). Check out this article on ThoughtCo. for more examples and comments on the backronym.

Dog Latin

Dog Latin is the creation of words, phrases, or jargon to resemble Latin. This is most often done by adding Latin-sounding endings to English (or other language) words. And you will see various examples of this everywhere, like when Bart Simpson called Lisa a “dorkus malorkus.” I am sure I have dog Latin-ised words many times over.

Malaphor

Lawrence Harrison coined the term malaphor in a Washington Post article titled “Searching for Malaphors”. It takes its name from two other word play forms – malapropism and metaphor. It is kind of a mixed or mangled metaphor that blends different words, phrases, or sayings to create a new one, so to say. Here are a couple of examples and links to more:

Rebus

A rebus is a pictorial representation of a name, work, or phrase. It combines the use of illustrated pictures with individual letters to depict words or phrases. And the rebus has been there for a while! From Middle Age heraldries and personalized scrolls to modern-day advertising and riddles for fun, the rebus sure is everywhere.

And considering the 11th of August 2021 also happens to be World Calligraphy Day, it is kind of a cool coincidence. Calligraphy can be used to create a rebus, right?

Like a partial image of this mug I got for myself at the Kennedy Space Center (if you solve it, you can write it in the comments!)

Sniglet

sniglet is an often humorous word made up to describe something for which no dictionary word exists. It often only exists in the time and space it was created, many times forgotten, and other times fondly remembered over shared laughter! The word owes its appearance to comedian Rich Hall, when he first used it during the show Not Necessarily The News. Hall later coined many sniglets, that resulted in books full of sniglets too!

For now, I leave you with some fun examples as well as links to other sniglety posts elsewhere.

  • doork, a person who pushes on a door marked “pull.” (coined by Rich Hall)
  • Remember Sniglets? (GroovyHistory.com)
  • A whole list of sniglets here

A snippet of sniglets from Hall’s show!

Tmesis

From the Greek word tmesis, which means “to cut.” Simply said, it is an insertion of a word or phrase between the parts of a word, a compound word, or a phrase. For example, a whole nother story. Or as Eliza Doolittle says “abso-blooming-lutely!” Or from the bard himself: “This is not Romeo, he’s some other where.”

Then there are LOTS more

I linked to a list of paraprosdokian sentences in my previous post. So talking about IT here again is something you should least expect me to do. I can’t forget to mention spoonerisms. Listing all the ways we can play with words is endless, for we can make up our own too. So I will simply once again mention, at the risk of repeating myself, that my previous word play post has tons of references and links for you (and the post itself has many examples of playing with words!)

And Now the End of This Post

Dear reader, have you read any of the listed books? Or played any of the games? How do you find yourself playing with words? Engaging in dialog with someone, or using pen and paper (or well, a device), or some other means? Do share your favorite word play way and/or memories. And of course, any and all comments, thoughts, and suggestions about my post are always welcome….

2 thoughts on “Bean Playing With Words & Always Love It

  1. This is such a fun post! I enjoyed learning about all these different types of word play. I’m still trying to figure out the mug—my best guess is “Be greater than the sum of your parts,” or something, since I see the letter B, a greater-than symbol, and some kind of sum (although I’m not sure why it’s multiplied by 1/n—I’m a bit lost there). On the note of this post, you’ve probably read The Phantom Tollbooth, but if you haven’t, it would be perfect for you—it has word play in abundance! Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. I love word play! I actually just started an IG account to track all the places in Cincinnati that I take my girls to play and I called it Cincinnati PLAYces. 🙂

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