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#1 2009-02-25 08:40:25

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

"No pun intended"

After hearing it again on the news today…

Doesn’t it seem that people are always saying “no pun intended” when a pun clearly was intended? Why can’t we just say, “pardon the pun”?

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#2 2009-02-25 11:10:37

JonW719
Eggcornista
From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Re: "No pun intended"

I usually read the “no pun intended” as a sly, pointedly ironic way to let people know the speaker really did intend it. “Pardon my pun” sounds blunt and less fun, so if the speaker is consciously making a pun, he/she keeps the tone lighter with a sly reference rather than using the more literal one.


Feeling quite combobulated.

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#3 2009-02-25 14:08:25

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

Re: "No pun intended"

Understood, but it has become so hackneyed that I’m starting to equate it with misuses of the word “literally.” Granted, the situation you describe is different … but it has also found it’s way into the hands of those who did not intend it in an ironic fashion. (But alas, rote imitation has it’s own level of irony, I guess).

Last edited by jorkel (2009-02-25 14:09:22)

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#4 2009-02-25 18:51:57

JonW719
Eggcornista
From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Re: "No pun intended"

That’s true… A lot of people use it in exactly the same they they misuse “literally.” When it is spoken, of course, you can see the sly look, but when the phrase is used in writing, it’s hard to tell if they mean it ironically. (Come to think of it, “ironically” is misused often too.)

I was trying to think of other words or expressions commonly used where the exact opposite meaning is tended. (Irregardless might come close.)

(P.S. I love the word hackneyed._)

Last edited by JonW719 (2009-02-25 18:59:14)


Feeling quite combobulated.

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#5 2009-02-25 19:41:55

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

Re: "No pun intended"

Good point about irony… I generally find it to be an overrated concept …particularly if it is applied to nuanced situations or cases where someone is actually hedging his bets. (It also tends to be used as an instrument of snarkiness).

Now, “hackneyed”... I fear that may be on it’s way to being hackneyed itself!

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#6 2009-02-26 08:57:21

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2082
Website

Re: "No pun intended"

I note that “hack-kneed” is already in the database. The observation there that this indicates the weakness rather than the overuse of the hack-kneed expression may be right, though I always get the picture or an old, over-driven horse whose knees therefore don’t keep its legs straight.
.
btw and fwiw, I think people who say “no pun intended” may mean “I am aware a pun is available here, but I am not requiring you to pay attention to it in order to get what I am saying”. It is indeed (and ironically) not possible to say such a thing without sending your interlocutor scurrying off to find the pun (if he hasn’t seen it already), and pointing out how clever you were to have noticed (if not planned) it. But the irony is built into the situation, not the words: people can sincerely be saying, “I wasn’t intending to express this punnily, but I realize that it did happen.”


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#7 2009-02-26 12:11:57

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

Re: "No pun intended"

...pointing out how clever you were to have noticed … it. But the irony is built into the situation, not the words: people can sincerely be saying, “I wasn’t intending to express this punnily, but I realize that it did happen.”

You are right David, and I think that’s a more legitimate reason to say, “no pun intended.” I just don’t like the other reasons/situations so much. I particularly don’t like when speakers suggest that it wasn’t intended when it clearly was. (If you haven’t noticed, we’re entering an economic period in which people don’t know who to trust… and that could mean that sarcasm is falling into disfavor).

I much more enjoy an unintentional pun—which might have formed subliminally from the particular words already used in a conversation—than an intentional one. The “no pun intended” of the former is at least sincere and mildly apologetic for the accidental excursion to the literal. The latter situation runs the risk of forcing the conversation down to that literal level; and one intentional pun seems to invite a whole onslaught, from my experience.

Last edited by jorkel (2009-02-26 12:26:17)

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#8 2009-02-26 17:31:35

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2082
Website

Re: "No pun intended"

I most enjoy a fully intentional and rhetorically useful pun. Granted that these are few and far between. I’ve managed one or two in a reasonably long lifetime. But I love it when I read a really good one.


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#9 2009-02-28 08:15:56

nilep
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-03-21
Posts: 291

Re: "No pun intended"

JonW719 wrote:

That’s true… A lot of people use it in exactly the same they they misuse “literally.”

When I first saw this thread I immediately thought of Laura Michaelis’s observation that a common function of literally is to point to figurative language.

In a similar fashion, it may be the case that no pun intended serves to point to a just-uttered pun. It seems that for some (many?) who use the phrase this way, intention is irrelevant—no pun intended indicates “I (or someone) just uttered a pun,” without regard for the utterer’s intent.

By the way, this abstraction away from the literal meaning of intended seems to mirror speakers who use literally to indicate figurative language but maintain the traditional sense for the adjective literal.

(I was using a strange computer last week and couldn’t remember my E.F. password; thus the delay in responding.)

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#10 2009-02-28 15:00:09

klakritz
Eggcornista
From: Winchester Massachusetts
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 674

Re: "No pun intended"

There are a family of catch phrases that, whether through ignorance or insincerity, signal the opposite of their manifest meaning. ‘No pun intended’ and ‘literally’ are two of these. ‘With all due respect’ is a third.

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#11 2009-02-28 16:08:45

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2082
Website

Re: "No pun intended"

You don’t say!


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#12 2009-02-28 18:09:47

klakritz
Eggcornista
From: Winchester Massachusetts
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 674

Re: "No pun intended"

Yup. I’m more than happy to have pointed this out!

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#13 2009-02-28 23:27:37

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1190

Re: "No pun intended"

JonW719 wrote:

I was trying to think of other words or expressions commonly used where the exact opposite meaning is tended.

“I could care less”.

Dixon

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#14 2009-02-28 23:36:24

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1190

Re: "No pun intended"

jorkel wrote:

I much more enjoy an unintentional pun—which might have formed subliminally from the particular words already used in a conversation—than an intentional one. The “no pun intended” of the former is at least sincere and mildly apologetic…

Usually, if not always, when I say “No pun intended”, it’s true. In such situations, I didn’t notice the pun until a split second after it came out of my mouth—then I say “No pun intended” to call attention to the pun so others can (hopefully) enjoy it too. But it’s never apologetic; I’m not ashamed of being a punster.

When I make an intentional pun, I often say “Pardon the pun”, or I just utter it very archly to call the listener’s attention to it. After all, when dropping our pearls before swine, we must sometimes call the swine’s attention to them; otherwise we’re wasting perfectly good pearls.

Dixon

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#15 2009-03-01 08:30:24

nilep
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-03-21
Posts: 291

Re: "No pun intended"

klakritz wrote:

There are a family of catch phrases that, whether through ignorance or insincerity, signal the opposite of their manifest meaning.

Or simply through ordinary language change.

Compare: Despite the protests of some conservative speakers and commentators, the word decimate does not mean “reduced by 1/10” in contemporary use, etymology notwithstanding. People who say “The crop was decimated” when they know that it was almost totally destroyed are not being insincere, nor are they ignorant.[1]

If the meaning of literally or no pun intended now regularly function in ways unmoored from meanings manifest to some speakers, it is somewhat unkind to call such usage ignorant or insincere.

[1] Except perhaps incidentally of the the word’s etymology, but that shouldn’t really count. Most of us are ignorant of the etymology of most of the words we use.

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#16 2009-03-02 05:20:28

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: "No pun intended"

Toward the end of the novel Little Big by (forum member) John Crowley, there’s a scene where the character Auberon is talking to his cousin George and says, “There’s some very strange things going on in the world lately. Very strange.” And the response: ”’Tell me about it,’ George said, meaning the opposite.”

I think Crowley has it right—that use of “Tell me about it” really does mean “You don’t need to tell me about it….”

And there’s quietly eggcornish stuff going on throughout Crowley’s work—he has a novel called Engine Summer, for instance. In our motorized world, we name those weirdly warm days in Fall after autochthonous peoples who seem almost to have disappeared. In Crowley’s far-future America, where people live in a manner vaguely reminiscent of the American Indians and machines have almost disappeared, the same time is called “engine summer,” but no one can remember why.

Last edited by patschwieterman (2009-03-02 05:23:24)

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#17 2017-10-04 11:18:49

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2082
Website

Re: "No pun intended"

Dixon wrote:

After all, when dropping our pearls before swine, we must sometimes call the swine’s attention to them; otherwise we’re wasting perfectly good pearls.

I was just re-reading and enjoying this set of posts. You guys are fun to talk with.


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#18 2017-10-04 13:17:08

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1190

Re: "No pun intended"

DavidTuggy wrote:

You guys are fun to talk with.

Indeed! (Inword?)

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#19 2017-10-07 17:14:41

JChance
Member
Registered: 2015-07-08
Posts: 11

Re: "No pun intended"

I never really took “tell me about it” as an ironic “you don’t have to” until I saw the quote from Little Big; I always took it more as a vehement assent, more or less congruent to “preach on” or “word”. And, as far as “no pun intended”, I’m with Dixon Wragg—I use it when I catch myself a moment too late or can’t come up with another good way to say something, and without feigned shame.

Last edited by JChance (2017-10-07 17:15:48)

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#20 2017-10-07 17:46:06

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1190

Re: "No pun intended"

JChance wrote:

I never really took “tell me about it” as an ironic “you don’t have to” until I saw the quote from Little Big; I always took it more as a vehement assent, more or less congruent to “preach on” or “word”.

I reckon that “you don’t have to tell me about it” and vehement assent are pretty much the same thing—in other words, “you don’t have to tell me about it because I already agree with you”; “you’re preaching to the choir”.

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