Gnomicon 78

If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.

Gnomicon  78
Thursday 26 July 2012

Read gnomica 1-50 here!

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“Age is strictly a case of mind over matter.
If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
Jack Benny (14 Feb 1894 – 26 Dec 1974)

If you’re not at the stage where “age” has become an issue – its afflictions physical as well as mental and emotional – for you, you probably have no idea who Jack Benny was.  Take my word for it:  he was a really funny guy back in the day(s of radio and very early television), and though (like his younger contemporary Bob Hope [29 Mar 1903 – 27 Jul 2003]) he liked the risqué double entendre, I don’t think I ever heard him utter an actual obscenity.  Imagine that: no obscenity, and he was still a character you laughed with!  (I guess that dates one aspect of my own sensibilities.)

I’m not sure if I agree with statement above, however, but it is undeniably amusing, and a rhetorical tour de force (as indeed are many jokes and witticisms that rely on ludic language).

What do I mean?

Well, there is, first, the double repetition of almost the same words (mind-mind and matter-matter).

Almost?  Yes, almost!

How so?

Consider:  in the first use of each word the word is a noun; in the second, it is a verb. And it just so happens (as it often does in English) that it is syntactic context and not orthography that functions as the category shifter – admittedly, this is a matter of no doubt utter indifference to anyone who is not obsessed with language, comme moi!  But this is of course my blog!  And I do enjoy the paronymy at work above – or is it just homonymy … or a kind of unmarked categorical polyptoton?

I can’t imagine Jack Benny (or Bob Hope either, for that matter) giving a hoot about these unfunny but [IMHO] nonetheless not entirely uninteresting linguistic meanderings.

But you will, surely, agree that, hyper-analytically speaking, the statement is funny.

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One Response to Gnomicon 78

  1. Helga says:

    Jack, I really enjoy most of your Gnomicons! I sometimes forward them to some of my friends who enjoy them too. And in the process I always learn a new word or phrase! Thanks a lot!

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