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The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics
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The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,465 ratings  ·  286 reviews
Some people may dismiss puns as the lowest form of humor. But this attitude is a relatively recent development in the sweep of history. In The Pun Also Rises, John Pollack — a former Presidential Speechwriter for Bill Clinton, and winner of the world pun championship — explains how punning revolutionized language and made possible the rise of modern civilization. Integrati ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published April 14th 2011 by Gotham (first published April 1st 2011)
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Start your review of The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Richard by: Bird Brian
What can I say? This is vindication for punsters everywhere.

Bird Brian's review was what got me interested in this, and since it's hard to top, I won't even try. The book had some engaging anecdotes, lots of historical facts and quotations, and even some lessons in brain physiology. And of course lots of wordplay.

All for pun, and pun for all!
Dan Bruno
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Lots of stuff going on here. There were historical anecdotes about punning through the ages, and its varying cultural import; some pop science tidbits about how the brain processes language generally and puns specifically; a few miscellaneous personal stories (the best is the one about the pun competition at the beginning); and a ton of shameless, unapologetic, wholly gratuitous, thoroughly amazing puns. (My favorite, from a passage about the alphabet: "Yes, the Romans would later modify the Gre ...more
Zohar -
Apr 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
Please excuse the puns below.

"The Pun Also Rises: How the Hum­ble Pun Rev­o­lu­tion­ized Lan­guage, Changed His­tory, and Made Word­play More Than Some Antics" by John Pol­lack is a non-fiction book, in which the author tells his-story of puns. Even though this book is short in pages, it is long in content.

John Pol­lack loves words and one could tell from the book. He is a for­mer World Pun Cham­pion and speech writer for Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton. In the book Mr. Pol­lack explains the sig­nif­i
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Puntiful. Punlicious. Punderful. Puntastic. Punetrating. All describe this punny book. Unfortunately, I'm nowhere near as punny as John Pollack. Considering his belief that punning is a sign of intelligence, I suppose that he would doubt mine. However, as clever as puns can be, not everyone has punability. Pollack says Noam Chomsky doesn't pun and whatever you may blame Chomsky for, stupidity isn't one of his flaws.

Pollack puns his way through this surprisingly scholarly examination of the socio
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
John Pollack prefaces his exploration of puns with his experience at the world pun championship. This was the most intense part of his book, The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More than Some Antics. The rest of the book ranged from snoozy to informative and mildly entertaining.

The book is just riddled with puns! It cries out for groans of appreciation. Over and over. You must appreciate puns to get the most out of Pollack’s writing.
Jason Edwards
Dec 04, 2012 rated it liked it
I’m going to start this review with some self-indulgence, which is really par for the course when it comes to my style of reviewing. I’m just a tiny bit drunk, and I could swear I've already written a review for this book. But I can’t find that review anywhere. I have a phrase in my head, that I feel I must have written already, something about how John Pollack peppers The Pun Also Rises with puns, which is to be expected. But I can’t for the life of me find on any of my several hard drives and ...more
May 16, 2012 rated it liked it
I was very excited to read this book when I ran across the title on a blog recently. It was fine, a nice little overview of how and why we may have come to pun. Neither obsessive and terribly thorough history nor simple humor writing, the book occupies for me a weird spot that falls short of rigorous scholarship (which would have been interesting) but goes beyond the simply light-hearted treatment. I sort of found myself wishing Pollack had picked one extreme or the other. It's a quick and prett ...more
May 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I was very disappointed. What little history Pollack could scape together was mostly used to set up unimpressive puns. The writing was mostly dull and the author seemed much more impressed with himself than I was. The best part was his account of the national punning competition at the beginning of the book. An entire volume dedicated to that event would have been a much better read.
Sharyn L.
Dec 14, 2018 added it
Shelves: audiobook
Interesting, a bit dry at times. Lots of puns.
Jo-Ann Houde
Given that I married into a family of punsters, this book was a must-read...
Certainly not a captivating page-turner, but it was interesting to learn about the history of the pun, and I picked up some new material along the way!
Aug 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
My father loved to pun, and he promoted such fun, zany good times punning together as a family. We were silly, true, but it was often smart humor, that made us think on our feet. Once my sister, father, and I tried to see how long we could keep a balloon up in the air, hitting it upward each time we made another pun. If you failed to make a pun when you hit the balloon, you were out. We kept it up for over an hour. The mental gynmastics it required to think like that are akin to speaking a forei ...more
Roy Lotz
This book was punderwhelming.
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, language
This is a nifty swifty: it's only 150 pages, a highly readable dissertation on the etymology, history, anthropology, and taxonomy of puns, itself replete with subt(it)le wordplay. The last 30 pages or so feel extraneous (they read like Pollack is padding for publication), but the whole is worth the weekend it will take you to consume. A representative sample from pages 109-110:
So just when exactly do people groan at puns, and what does it mean? ...[T]hat response can spring from several distinct
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Who knew the literary device for majority of dad jokes could have such nuance and dramatic history! It's hilarious to me how people get so worked up about puns and its implications. But I guess those who takes everything seriously can and will make even the most fun and creative things solemn.

I really enjoy learning about the history behind puns, and how our brain works when it comes to "getting" the pun. I find multilingual puns to be the most interesting. Every time my mom and I come up with
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a lot of fun to read. It is peppered throughout with puns, of course. Beyond that, Pollack refers to many other books that amateur linguists will want to also read. My "to-read" list grew by at least 10 books while reading this one. This book is very well-researched. Even so, it is straightforward and easy to read.
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting and FUNNY. Well, punny. Sometimes I was distracted from the academics by the puns. Who knew that a lesson on language could be so entertaining? Fun subject, playfully done. Very enjoyable!
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you love language, writing, and a good joke then reading this book is a novel concept.
Jon Hilty
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
The book taught me about puns and also had puns in it. What more do I need, I ask? More puns. But that will happen in day-to-day life.
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
how is my head
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
For what it was, I think the author did really well. I'm just not a big fan of the subject.

Also, there a lot of complex equivalents in this book (e.g. such and such duel began because of a pun, et cetera). And I felt like those connections were a bit of a stretch from time to time.
Barbara Ardinger
Jan 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Terrific book! The pun is not the lowest form of humor. It's one of the highest forms because you have to be smart to recognize a pun. I've always loved puns. In graduate school, I put at least one pun in every term paper I wrote. A comparison of modern plays about Oedipus--"Complex Oedipus." My book Finding New Goddesses is filled with puns. These Found Goddesses are goddesses I made up. Here's my favorite:

Verbena: Goddess of Wordplay and Really Awful Verse
“I don’t get no respect,” Verbena com
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title just about says it all. Who knew that people have been punning since ancient Greece and Biblical times? Or that early Hawaiian natives used punning was a sort of dueling? Or that England’s coffee house wordplay other humor became so frowned upon in Victorian times that any laughter and even smiling were considered uncouth? There is plenty of history here, as well as physiological analysis of how we make puns, and how puns fog the clarity of language but keep minds alert for novel inter ...more
May 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Trisha by: TLC Book tours
The idea of linguistic history titillates me intellectually, but I must admit to not having a lot of luck with it in practice. My linguistics courses in general while in college were universally boring. But deep down inside, I knew that linguistics could be absolutely fascinating if put in the right hands. This book definitely proves that. A historical and cultural look at the role of puns, The Pun Also Rises informed, entertained, and challenged me.

First, the challenging part. I have always tho
Jun 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this while I was on a plane to Austin, and, oddly enough, the first chapter details the author's trip to the Pun Off that happens there! His plane almost crashes; luckily, mine didn't. My students bought this for me as an end of the year present, and as I'm constantly impressing upon them all sorts of linguistic concepts, this book was quite appropriate.

The history of the pun isn't as groan inducing as actual puns can be. Pollock details what happens in the brain when a pun is constructe
Sarah (Workaday Reads)
Jun 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
I love puns. The cornier, the better. With that in mind, I was interested to learn a bit of history about puns. I didn’t realize how old the pun is, or how varied they can be. I also didn’t know that must puns are not meant to be funny, and that at various points in history, they were used quite seriously.

The book itself was at times humourous and entertaining, and at other times dry and slightly boring. When the focus was on ancedotal stories, the book was great. Both entertaining and education
Julianne General
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, literary
This book will probably only be interesting to those obsessed with language, or maybe history, but it was definitely an *extremely* well-written account of the history of puns (which is more complex and genuinely entertaining than you might think). Pollack was a presidential speech-writer, and an award-winning pun-nist (I don't know the official term), so if you're NOT into language/history, just read the introduction. You might be blown away! All in all, the book has tons of fun anecdotes and i ...more
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My personal view is that puns fall into two categories: those whose wit and cleverness you appreciate slowly because they are based on some piece of esoteric knowledge - a Classical quote, a modern foreign language word play, scientific jargon - or they're sheer impudence takes you by surprise and causes you to burst out laughing even while realising that it's an awful pun. This is not to say that the pun "is the lowest form of wit", but some of the examples were groan-worthy.

I found the history
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting, witty history of the pun. Quite often I laughed aloud, and certainly while describing the whole history of the pun, the author slipped in quite a few of his own groaners.

It answers all manner of questions about puns, from where the term came from to why people hate puns (and why they're wrong). It was very fun to read, although not terribly long; the book wound up being about 154 pages long, not including the end notes, but the selected bibliography is HUGE and the author ap
Jul 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Many people I know were not surprised when I got this book as a gift for Father's day. While I expected this book to be interesting, I was surprised to find that the book covered topics spanning history, cognitive science, linguistics, evolution, and anthropology. And that there were a number of puns tossed in both as illustrations, and in context was a bonus. An enjoyable, entertaining read that explains the rise, fall, and rise of the pun as a form.
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