Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Are K-words funny? Inherently, apparently!

There's a wonderful article at Wikipedia about inherently funny words and numbers: that is, the notion that certain words are just hilarious, not because of what they mean, but because of how they sound - they may be funny because of onomatopoeia, sexual innuendo, cultural beliefs, etc.

The article gives lovely list of words and numbers (including many gems from Python, Douglas Adams, Gary Larson, The Simpsons, etc), among them Slartibartfast, 42, galoshes, cow, garbanzos, wankel rotary engine, 69, nonce, kumquats, and so on.

It also mentions that one H. L. Mencken wrote in a column published in the New Yorker in 1948 that "K, for some occult reason, has always appealed to the oafish risibles [oh dear oh dear] of the American plain people, and its presence in the names of many ... places has helped to make them joke towns ... for example, Kankakee, Kalamazoo, Hoboken, Hohokus, Yonkers, Squeedunk, and Brooklyn." I assume that the writer, by referring to 'plain people', means Native Americans, and I'm sorry if this quote offends anyone, but I include it here because...

...this got me thinking: are words that contain a K inherently more funny? In the case of Seffrican English, and Afrikaans, definitely! Consider these words: kakkerlak, klap, bok, bakkie, blik, befok, bliksem, boykie, jislaaik, kief, knyp, kussed, oke, plak, skyf, skollie, skelm, snoek, skaam, stukkie, swak, vloek and twak. (Thanks to Wavescape's Surfrikan Slang for some of these words)

Also got me wondering, are words containing the letter K also inherently funny in any of SA's indigenous languages? If not, what words are inherently funny, and why?

Here's a short list of words that make me laugh every time I hear them: broeks, pootle, fish, boeries, pants, perp, snout, pip, douche, pronk, doek, lappie, squat, squirt, klinker-brick, carbuncle, lunch, snotklap, spume, platypus, bollocks, scoot, littoral zone, fork, cleat, proxy, midge, undies, ditty, peckish, gizzard, puce, mucus, snood, jab, berk, nipper, totty, flap and pork.

Oh, and my friend C reminds me of the word "flange". Flange!!

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