Invisibility Pun

Playing With Words: More Pun-ishment

As we’ve discussed on previous shows, one difficult aspect of learning a second language is adapting to humor that involves plays on words. They are also called puns.  Now, I’m a big fan of puns and actually tell them a lot with my friends and family.  The way many Americans receive a pun when it is told is to pretend they didn’t think it was funny.  They may stare at the pun-teller or even let out a groan (unnnhh!).  They don’t want to give punsters (like me) credit for clever wordplay, but usually they end up smiling or even laughing.  Here is a clever wordplay that most Americans would chuckle over.  The question: is it funny to you?

An invisible man married an invisible woman. Their kids were nothing to look at either.

What's So Funny?

This joke involves an English idiom and a double meaning.  The idiom, "be nothing to look at" is a polite way of saying someone is not handsome or pretty.  It has a second meaning where "nothing to look at" sounds like "invisible" (which would describe the children of an invisible mother and father).

Now that you understand the pun, feel free to share it with your American friends.  And be prepared for their groans.  Unnnnh!

Alan Headbloom

Alan advises Americans how to be global citizens and expats how to fit in to Michigan culture without annoying their native coworkers and clients. He also tweets and blogs at the intersection of language and culture. Over decades, he's traveled, studied, or lived on six continents, putting strange foods into his mouth and emitting strange sounds from it. His use of English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Swedish, Hausa, and Japanese all improve with alcohol use. He gives invited public presentations on culture and unsolicited private advice on English grammar and usage; the latter isn't always appreciated. Visit his website for information on consulting, coaching, or speaking engagements.