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Figaro rips the innards out of things people say and reveals the rhetorical tricks and pratfalls. For terms and definitions, click here.
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    And Wait Till the Tea Leaves

    cuppatuna.gifQuote: When Detective Riggs was called to investigate the theft of a trainload of Native American fish broth concentrate bound for market, he solved the case almost immediately, being that the trail of clues led straight to the trainmaster, who had both the locomotive and the Hopi tuna tea. –Mitsy Rae of Danbury, Nebraska, a runner-up in the Bullwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for bad writing.

    Figure of Speech:   paronomasia (par oh no MAY zha), the near-pun.

    A paronomasia isn’t a pun in the strictest sense.  A pun uses different meanings for the same word. (The hunter didn’t like buffalo, but moose was deer to him.)   A paronomasia is far more annoying, because it uses different words that are homonyms; they only sound alike.

    In ancient times and right up through Shakespeare’s era, people didn’t look down on wordplay.  A pun—and its country cousin, paronomasia—let the speaker sound two meanings at once, like a musician striking a chord, or like a really good yodeler.  (Wait: yodelers have always been annoying. Forget yodelers.)

    What's In It for You: Parents should spend less time correcting their kids’ grammar and turn mealtimes into language playgrounds.  When your kid whips out her paronomasia, try to laugh.

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