Monday, February 13, 2012

Puns and English Learners

Question: What is the value of puns to English (nonnative) learners?

Answer: What makes English hard to learn for nonnative speakers of English is its double meanings. The pun is based on a double meaning. There are, according to this author, three types of puns: The soundalike pun, lookalike pun and close-sounding pun.

The Soundalike Pun. “A common kind of pun is based on homophones, two or more words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings.” Example:

Teacher: Tell me something that conducts electricity.

Student: Why—er—

Teacher: Very good—wire! Now, name a unit of electrical power.

Student: The what?

Teacher: Very good job—the watt is correct!.

The Lookalike Pun
“These puns are based on words that both sound and look the same but have two or more unrelated meanings.”

 Teacher: Karen, what is the highest form of animal life?

Karen: A giraffe?

 The Close-Sounding Pun
“These puns are based on words that have different meanings and spellings, but sound similar, differing in only one or two sounds.”

Tim: Knock knock.

Teri: Who’s there?

Tim: Eiffel

Teri: Eiffel who?

Tim: Eiffel down and scraped my knee.

 Comment: This article is a keeper. Order it from the International Reading Association (IRA): . The title of the article is: “Pun Work Helps English Learners Get the Joke.” Kristin Lems. The Reading Teacher (November 2011), 187-201. The article explains how to teach the pun. Idioms are also difficult for English language learners. They, too, have two meanings. RayS.

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