The pun is commonly dismissed as the lowest form of wit, and punsters are often unpopular for their obsessive wordplay. But such attitudes are relatively recent developments. In The Pun Also Rises, John Pollack—a former World Pun Champion and presidential speechwriter for Bill Clinton—explains why such wordplay is significant: It both revolutionized language and played a pivotal role in making the modern world possible. Skillfully weaving together stories and evidence from history, brain science, pop culture, literature, anthropology, and humor, The Pun Also Rises is an authoritative yet playful exploration of a practice that is common, in one form or another, to virtually every language on earth.
At once entertaining and educational, this engaging book answers fundamental questions: Just what is a pun, and why do people make them? How did punning impact the development of human language, and how did that drive creativity and progress? And why, after centuries of decline, does the pun still matter?