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Cut-down puns

  • Antonio Lillo (a1)

SLANG IS characterized by its capacity to shock, startle and amuse: often achieved by manipulating existing lexical material in a playful way. Indeed, this play instinct is at the core of language use at large: cf. Nilsen & Nilsen (1978:28–44), Redfern (1984:6), and especially Crystal (1998). It is however in the realm of informal discourse that all types of ludic word-forming – from malapropisms to homonymic puns – thrive most richly. One such way of manipulating existing lexical items is to expand them implicitly into longer forms so that the original does double (and often facetious) duty. This process is at work not only in such acronyms as S.F.A. – impeccably, Scottish Football Association, but facetiously both sweet fuck-all and its euphemistic variant Sweet Fanny Adams – but also in such elaborations as do-re-mi for ‘dough’ (US slang money), Oswald for ‘an ounce’ of a drug (expanding oz, the abbreviation of ‘ounce’), and Georgie (after the late renowned footballer George or Georgie Best), for ‘best’ itself. The following article seeks to explore the curious realm of curtailed puns formed on the same principle as Georgie.

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English Today
  • ISSN: 0266-0784
  • EISSN: 1474-0567
  • URL: /core/journals/english-today
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