a salted / assaulted [pun]

azz

Senior Member
armenian
a. Two peanuts went into a bar. One was a salted.


This is a famous joke. It has other variants as well.

You can see it here:
Words Gone Wild

I get the pun: "assaulted" versus "a salted". My problem is with the second sentence of the joke. The way it is written, it is incomplete. It needs 'a salted one', doesn't it?

I understand that this is a joke and not meant to be taken seriously or analyzed grammatically, but I just wanted to make sure that I had the grammar right.

Many thanks.
 
  • S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    There is an understood (omitted) noun at the end of the noun phrase, but it doesn't have to be 'one'. "One was a salted peanut' works just as well. However, it is perfectly idiomatic to omit it. Given that both 'one' and 'peanut' would be repetitive, it's likely better style to drop the noun at the head of the noun phrase.
    You understand the grammar perfectly.
     

    azz

    Senior Member
    armenian
    Thank you so much S1mOn,

    So would you say these work
    b. Two men walked into a bar. One was an injured.
    c. Two men walked into a bar. One was a tall.


    I don't think they work. But maybe as 'salted peanuts' are 'a thing', (a) does work.

    d. We were watching a movie. It was a black and white.


    Maybe (d) works.

    Many thanks
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Two peanuts went into a bar. One was a salted (peanut).

    The omitted word is peanut but it has to be omitted for the joke to work. It's a play on words.

    Two peanuts went into a bar. One was assaulted/a salted.

    Saying the following makes no sense:

    Two peanuts went into a bar. One was assaulted peanut.

    "Salted peanuts" is the name of a category of peanuts.

    peanuts.jpg
     

    S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    Indeed. Perfect grammar would be 'Two peanuts went into a bar. One was salted. The joke breaks this rule for the sake of the punchline. In fact, the joke requires it. Often, it is a small flaw that signals the pun. Perfect puns are merely confusing, because the hearer does not receive the signal that the meaning is doubled.
     

    azz

    Senior Member
    armenian
    Thank you all so much!

    Yes. I got the joke, but the question was whether a rule of grammar was broken for it to work! I think I didn't formulate my question properly.

    Many thanks.
     

    S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    Isaac Asimov once wrote an essay about puns. He included the following pun (as I recall it). 'Three brothers went west and decided to start up a cattle ranch. They agreed on almost everything, but could not agree on a name for their farm. They decided to telegram their father to settle the matter. He wrote back "call it "Focus", because that's where the sons raise meat (sun's rays meet).'
    In spoken form, it's a perfect pun, but it's not funny, because people immediately hear one or the other interpretation, and are never prompted to go looking for another.
    The grammar flaw in your pun is what makes it funny. It's the signal that something is wrong and another interpretation is necessary.
     
    Last edited:

    azz

    Senior Member
    armenian
    Thank you so much S1m0n!

    I think the 'son's rays meet' pun is also very good. I prefer it to the peanut one, but I am not a native speaker, and therefore not a good judge in these matters. I basically love all the puns I come across in English, because the ones you discovered when you were a kid are new to me. Even the 'cheapos' sound good to me because they are not as facile for me as they are for native speakers. I do tend to make a lot of puns in English, most of them very bad. A friend tells me that hanging around with me is PUNishment.

    BTW, the way you write your name is almost a pun... or a punumber… There, you see?

    Many thanks.
     
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