Saturday, October 29, 2011

Punctuation Proposal: The Pun-Intended Mark

A Punctuation Proposal: I would like to propose the use of this symbol as the "pun-intended" punctuation mark, which will also be known as the "punint." As you can see, the symbol is symmetrical, with the top and bottom halves of the symbol being the same. This makes it a good symbol to signal the use of a pun, since puns are also based on symmetry or sameness.

A single punint will be placed at the end of a sentence to indicate that a pun was intended in the sentence. So, if you reach the end of the sentence and see the punint mark but neglected to notice the pun, you can go back and read the sentence again, looking for the pun. The absence of a punint will indicate that no pun was intended (see example #7 below).

Two punint marks can be used to wrap around the punning portion of a statement in order to mark it out clearly, as when the pun is especially subtle. This use of the punint will be referred to as the "double-punint" (see example #4 below). To avoid ambiguity, the double-punint should always be used when the main sentence needs to end in a question mark (see example #5). Finally, the double-punint should be used when marking a free-standing word or phrase that is not part of an actual sentence (see example #6).


1. Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses÷
Notes: This is the kind of pun that someone might miss because Santa Claus is spelled with an upper-case C, while subordinate clause is spelled with a lower-case c. Without the punint, people might not get the joke!

2. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana÷
Notes: As you can see, the first sentence here ends in a period because it does not contain a pun. In the second sentence, there is an elegant little pun ("flies" is now a noun and "like" is now a verb), hence the final punint.

3. In the immortal words of Douglas Adams, "You can tune a guitar, but you can't tuna fish÷ Unless, of course, you play bass÷"
Note: Here you see two sentences in a row, each with a pun and each ending in a punint mark.

4. Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this ÷son÷ of York.
Note: Shakespeare's plays are full of puns, as you can see here where Richard III plays with the English words "son" and "sun." Since this is a rather subtle pun, it is best to mark it with a double punint.

5. I would like to go to Holland someday. ÷Wooden shoe÷?
Note: Although this is not an especially subtle pun, the double-punint is needed in order to end the punning sentence with a question mark.

6. ÷Aladdin Sane÷
Note: This illustrates the use of a double-punint in a free-standing phrase, the title of David Bowie's 1973 record album.

7. The deli is sandwiched between a laundromat and an insurance office.
Note: The absence of the punint shows that there really is no pun intended here. So, if you perceived a pun, you need to put that thought out of your mind as quickly as possible.

ADOPT THE PUNINT NOW: It's the ÷write÷ thing to do!

1 comment:

  1. I like this idea and will adopt it. Should we refer to this blog entry to explain it or perhaps it can be put in into wikipedia?