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Word play is a literary technique in which the words that are used become the main subject of the work. Puns, phonetic mix-ups such as spoonerisms, obscure words and meanings, clever rhetorical excursions, oddly formed sentences, and telling character names are common examples of word play.

Word play is quite common in oral cultures as a method of reinforcing meaning.

Examples of visual orthographic and sound-based word play abound in both alphabetically and non-alphabetically written literature (eg. Chinese).

Most writers engage in word play to some extent, but certain writers are particularly committed to, or adept at, word play as a major feature of their work . Shakespeare's "quibbles" have made him a noted punster. Similarly, P.G. Wodehouse was hailed by The Times as a "comic genius recognized in his lifetime as a classic and an old master of farce" for his own ingenious wordplay. James Joyce, author of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, is another noted word-player. For example, Joyce's phrase "they were yung and easily freudened" clearly implies the more conventional "they were young and easily frightened", however the former also makes an apt pun on the names of two famous psychoanalysts, Jung and Freud.

Other writers and entertainers closely identified with word play include:

Word play can enter common usage as neologisms.

Word play is closely related to word games, that is, games in which the point is manipulating words. See also language game for a linguist's variation.

See also

References

  1. ^ Miller, G. (1962) Foreward by a psychologist, pp. 13-17, In Weir RH. (1962). Language in the Crib. University of Michigan; Edition 2, (1970) Mouton. OCLC 300988484
  2. ^ ""Forrest Ackerman Obituary at Mania.com". http://www.mania.com/scifi-legend-forrest-j-ackerman-passes-away_article_111612.html.  
  3. ^ ""Forrest Ackerman Obituary at Time.com". http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1864854,00.html.  

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