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September 17, 2010
"You're never too old to learn something stupid."
Today's topic: the paraprosdokian.
And who can forget or remember Alistair Cooke on the Duke of Windsor:
“He was at his best when the going was good.”
We're referring to a figure of speech taken from two Greek words, “para” which means “beyond” and “prosdokian” which means “expectation.”
To put it another way, the second part of the sentence or a phrase delivers something quite unexpected to the audience, which causes you to reinterpret the first part of the sentence.
Which could be why comedians pepper their jokes with paraprosdokians:
"Take my wife, please."
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
You know, I'm sick of following my dreams, man. I'm just going to ask where they're going and hook up with 'em later."
"A woman drove me to drink and I didn't even have the decency to thank her."
Winston Churchill, the English W.C.:
"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried."
He probably deserves one more:
"There but for the grace of God — goes God."
Paraprosdokians can create what is known as a syllepsis. In which the primary verb of a sentence can change meaning according to the other words in the sentence.
He lost his coat and his temper.
Take my hand, I don't want it.
Or this from Charles Dickens:
"She went straight home in a flood of tears, and a sedan chair."
Ellipses, not to be confused with a syllepsis...are often employed:
"If I could say a few words...I would be a better public speaker."
Now you probably know more about the paraprosdokian than you ever wanted to know.
Why English is the best language covblogs.com Take a look at an interesting article we found.
A short history of the origins and development of English englishclub.com Take a look at an interesting article we found.
What is a Paraprosdokian? writing.com Take a look at an interesting article we found.