Saturday, 26 May 2012


Punophobia is a morbid fear of puns and other wordplay.

Punophobes are unable to understand that wordgames are a bonus to the major elements of a work of fiction, the sidedish or pickle to the main feast, so to speak, and should not be confused with the main course. Surely it is generous of a writer to provide this bonus rather than simply presenting a plain ungarnished meal? It's rarely perceived that way. The punophobe will seize instantly on the sidedish and examine it almost exclusively, insisting that it somehow stands for the true feast. This is bizarre.

One of the reasons that wordgames (especially puns) are disparaged by Punophobes is because there's an assumption that the most respected writers of the past avoided them entirely and only employed sober language. But in fact it was the mid-level authors (Henry James, John Galsworthy, Jane Austen, etc) who adopted that approach; the truly great masters relished the use of wordplay. A casual mention of Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, Flann O'Brien, Gilbert Sorrentino, Vladimir Nabokov and Donald Barthelme, among many others, should be sufficient to prove this point.

Most ( but not all) punophobes are Fully Groan Men.