Pun my soul

I do like puns. John Cleese doesn’t. He’s said that the three rules of comedy are no puns, no puns and no puns. But they make me laugh and I enjoy the satisfaction of a good, long pun-fight on Facebook or Twitter. I can’t and won’t pretend I don’t. So this interested me:

Puns are threatening because puns reveal the arbitrariness of meaning, and the layers of nuance that can be packed onto a single word,” says John Pollack, a communications consultant and author of The Pun Also Rises. “So people who dislike puns tend to be people who seek a level of control that doesn’t exist. If you have an approach to the world that is rules-based, driven by hierarchy and threatened by irreverence, then you’re not going to like puns.”

Why Do People Hate Puns? – Julie Beck, The Atlantic (10 July 2015)

Read the full piece.

Utility counts every word you type – in Facebook as well as your writing

Some rogueishly handsome fella over on MacNN.com wrote a review of a OS X utility called WordTarget:

It’s a menubar utility for OS X which simply counts every word. Every time you hit the space bar, that’s another word counted, and that’s fine. No debate there. It does also count hyphens, though, so self-starter is treated as two words, which seems like cheating. To balance that out, however, it does not subtract words when you delete them. Actually, we found that if you highlight some words and delete them all, your word count goes up by one.

That’s probably a bug, and it’s not a significant error: the odd word here or there is not going to make much difference if you’re writing a 170,000-word book, for instance. However, it is significant that it won’t recognize that you’ve deleted whole passages. If you are really doing this to hit a Charlie Brown-like mandated word count, you’ll have to keep this in mind.

But WordTarget is meant for people who are aiming at an ideal number of words rather than a specific commissioned length. Novelists who decide they’re going to write 1,000 words per day no matter what, for instance, they’re the market here. You can presume that WordTarget sales go up every November during NaNoWrMo, where hopeful writers need to hit an average of 1,600 words per day.

Hands On: WordTarget menubar word counter (OS X) – William Gallagher, MacNN (30 December 2014)

Read the full piece because it tells you more, it has screenshots and I worked very hard on it.

Factoid: we’re allowed to make up words

We’re writers. We can do this. There’s precedence. You already know that Shakespeare, when stuck for the right phrase, would sooner make it up than consult a thesaurus, but he wasn’t alone. And sometimes writers create words that then run away from them, that escape their writer and come to mean something else:

On occasion, a writer will coin a fine neologism that spreads quickly but then changes meaning. “Factoid” was a term created by Norman Mailer in 1973 for a piece of information that becomes accepted as a fact even though it’s not actually true, or an invented fact believed to be true because it appears in print. Mailer wrote in Marilyn, “Factoids…that is, facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper, creations which are not so much lies as a product to manipulate emotion in the Silent Majority.” Of late, factoid has come to mean a small or trivial fact that makes it a contronym (also called a Janus word) in that it means both one thing and its opposite, such as “cleve” (to cling or to split), “sanction” (to permit or to punish) or “citation” (commendation or a summons to appear in court). So factoid has become a victim of novelist C.S. Lewis’s term “verbicide,” the willful distortion or deprecation of a word’s original meaning.

The Origins of Writerly Words – Paul Dickson, Time (30 April 2014)

Read the full Time magazine piece.