This post is dedicated to William Dudley Bass, Scott Bell, Paul Zohav, and Steve Kenagy who routinely make me break into laughter as I read their posts.
Forty six years and counting, this working writer is still learning, still enchanted, still amused by how we “label” language and develop a writing style and tone and voice.
“Experience can be a tough teacher. You get the test first and the lesson later.”
Apparently, this is an example of a paraprosdokian. Don Burrows who knows his way around the English language quite well, sent this my way and I am effectively reprinting what he shared and I am wondering what is the source?
From Wikipedia: Paraprosdokian: “Figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently used in a humorous situation.”
I don’t ever recall learning about this special figure of speech in high school or college and lover of words, phrases, and clauses I am (School House Rock “rocks!), I happily chased etymologies of words from 14 year of age on for fun. I tackled learning haiku as a poetic form, wrote odes and sonnets (badly) and I even took a year of Latin in high school but was cursed with a monotone and humorless teacher (sigh). In college I audited a Linguistics class that routinely filled up every time (that teacher was so great!) I was happy to audit. I continue to love specialty dictionaries ever since I discovered them in high school.
THE POINT IS…I believe I know some people who are natural users of these paraprosdokians and may not realize that they are, and some of them even write on this communal blog. Honestly, I don’t see myself as a humorous writer that much and I know that I would be struggling if I was expected to come up with a paraprosdokian of my own. All the more reason to try, my “I Can Do Anything Part” is saying right now.
Care to try your hand at it? As a bit of comic relief, I wonder if this literary technique has a useful place in business writing? Worth a try at least once or thrice?
“Where there’s a will, I want to be in it,” is a type of paraprosdokian.
1. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on my list.
3. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
4. If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
6. War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
8. Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good Evening,’ and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.
9. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
10. A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
11. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.
12. Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says, ‘In case of emergency, notify:’ I put ‘DOCTOR.’
13. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
14. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, scratching their crotch, and still think they are sexy.
15. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
16. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
17. I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.
18. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
19. Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery a hell of a lot easier to live with.
20. There’s a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can’t get away.
21. I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.
22. You’re never too old to vote for something stupid.
23. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
24. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
25. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
26. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
27. A diplomat is someone who tells you to go to hell in such a way that you look forward to the trip.
28. Hospitality is making your guests feel at home even when you wish they were.
29. When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.
30. The only way to fight the government is to vote all the idiots out.
Final Words of Wisdom “The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese”.
P.S. If you’ve got the paraprosdokian mastered and want a bigger challenge, try understanding this set of terms!