There are 9 posts.
‘That joke is so old,’ you complain, when your Christmas cracker yet again asks, ‘why didn’t the skeleton go to the ball?’ as if you didn’t already know. But how old is joke itself in the English language, and what about other words in our comedic vocabulary? Joke The word joke, or rather ‘joque’, first […]more
Sometimes we can better understand a humorist’s work by opening it up to see how the engine works on the level of language. For instance, verbal comedians, who rely for their effects on the close study of language and the careful engineering of its springs and gears, often present tacit insights into how language acts […]more
Today is the anniversary of the first broadcast of Monty Python’s Flying Circus – a British sketch comedy series written and performed by Michael Palin, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and Eric Idle. The show’s linguistic legacy is captured in the OED‘s entry for the adjective Pythonesque, used to describe anything relating […]more
‘David, some words would be useful here’: a sentence of exasperation from Neil Godwin, David Brent’s nemesis in the mockumentary The Office, as he witnesses Brent’s bungling management metaphors and haplessly incomprehensible hand-gestures. As we know, David Brent actually has a lot of words, and most of them lead to podiacide, otherwise known as shooting […]more
One of the most iconic comic voices in American history, the stinging wit and dry sensibility of Woody Allen offers a distinctly cynical take on 20th– and 21st-century life. In celebration of Allen’s 80th birthday, we took a look through the Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations (5th ed.) and the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (8th […]more
Seinfeld famously added a ton of terms to English, such as low talker, high talker, spongeworthy, and unshushables. It also made obscure terms into household words. Shrinkage and yadda yadda yadda existed before Seinfeld, but it’s doubtful you learned them anywhere else. Another successful Seinfeld term has gone under the radar: Jerk Store. The term was coined in “The Comeback,” when George is unselfconsciously stuffing his face with […]more