Puns, which always impress people with their specific rhetorical effects, are widely used in daily communication and different kinds of discourses. Pun is a play on the dual or multiple meanings of a word or the similarity of sound between different words. So what the definition of pun?
According to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, a pun can be defined as “an amusing use of a word or phrase that has two meanings, or of words with the same sound but different meanings”. In general, puns refer to the usually humorous use of a word in such a way as to suggest two or more of its meanings or the meaning of another word similar in sound. Why I talk about pun here?
On one hand, puns are popular in advertisements, especially in headlines or slogans. There are many puns involving the brand names of the product or service advertised. Such puns can not only attract the audience’s attention but also highlight the brand names and therefore, the brand names will leave an especially deep impression on the audience. Puns in written advertising discourse can always function as attracting the audience’s attention and making advertisements aesthetic, help to bring, humorous effect and memory-retaining effect.
On the other, the application of puns has a long history in English literature. There are lots of classic puns created by famous author from the epics in the Anglo-Saxon period to the poems in the Medieval period, and then to the dramas in the Renaissance and the fictions after that. Puns are reserved and witty. Puns used in literature works have different poetic values such as: help to build up the theme, characterize both lower and high characters, create rich imageries, and arouse laughter, etc.