Allusion to

Dmitry87

Senior Member
Russian - The Russian Federation
Hi there!
I've listened to 6 Minute English program, the eposode about decluttering. Here is an extract from the dialogue:
"Tidy people keep their clothes in a wardrobe. I just dump a lot of my clothes on the floor, so a floordrobe".

Can I say that a floordrobe is an allusion to wardrobe, like "Are you a tidy person? - No, you should see my floordrobe! - Floordrobe? - Yeah, it's an allusion to wardrobe..." ?
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    There are lots of slightly wacky portmanteau words, but I’m not sure if there’s a special term for them?

    To name but a few… fanzine, frenemy, bromance, metrosexual, mockumentary, franglais, fantabulous, guesstimate, flexitarian
     

    Dmitry87

    Senior Member
    Russian - The Russian Federation
    There are lots of slightly wacky portmanteau words, but I’m not sure if there’s a special term for them?
    Hi, lingobingo!
    portmanteau words - that's interesting!
    But actually, I was wondering only about the way I used allusion:)
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I wouldn’t use allusion in that context. To allude to something tends to mean making a subtle reference to it, not an obvious/overt one.

    Vampires in particular were a great excuse for Victorian writers to allude to sexuality, which they couldn't mention in any other way.
    It proved a useful way of alluding to Johnston's illness without having to exchange romantic narratives of expressive struggle for clinical detachment.
     

    Dmitry87

    Senior Member
    Russian - The Russian Federation
    I wouldn’t use allusion in that context. To allude to something tends to mean making a subtle reference to it, not an obvious/overt one.
    Vampires in particular were a great excuse for Victorian writers to allude to sexuality, which they couldn't mention in any other way.It proved a useful way of alluding to Johnston's illness without having to exchange romantic narratives of expressive struggle for clinical detachment.
    I think you made that clear for me!
    And what do you think about Grassy's option from the post #2 - It's a play on the words "warddrobe" and "floor" ?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The term “play on words” is used mainly as a synonym for a pun. Making the word floordrobe out of floor and wardrobe is not a pun — but it would be fine to describe it as wordplay, so I don’t see why you couldn’t rephrase that as a play on words.
     

    Dmitry87

    Senior Member
    Russian - The Russian Federation
    The term “play on words” is used mainly as a synonym for a pun. Making the word floordrobe out of floor and wardrobe is not a pun
    Recently I watched a video on U-Tube "David Crystal - What do you most enjoy about the English language?" (I'm not allowed to leave a link here on the forum), where David Crystal, a British linguist, describes how the cats of his and his neighbours met, and from this situation some funny words came - CATfrontation, CATastrophe, CATalist - to which David is referring as puns. For me these words are formed in the same way as floordrobe, what do you think?
     

    Dmitry87

    Senior Member
    Russian - The Russian Federation
    I disagree that they’re puns. For typical puns, see posts #4 and #5 in this recent thread: this very month as is
    It would be great if you watched the video and comment on it, because he holds the situation as an example of "ping-pong-punning", when people pun at each other, groan etc.
    "David Crystal - What do you most enjoy about the English language?" from 4:10
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    A pun is a special case of a play on words, thus not every play on words is a pun. Puns typically involve double-meanings.
    There are no double meanings in floordrobe. It's just an area of floor used as a wardrobe.

    To describe floordrobe as a portmanteau-word comes close to being a pun, given that a portmanteau is originally a kind of mobile wardrobe.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It would be great if you watched the video and comment on it
    I did watch the video. And his description of the ping-pong punning (we’ve all done it!) tends to suggest that all the cat words used are in themselves puns. But they’re not. The joke element comes not from just saying a word that happens to include the letters CAT (catapult, caterpillar, catkin are further examples) but from cleverly putting that word into a viable sentence in a funny way. In other words, it’s the play on words in the whole sentence that constitutes a pun, not the word on its own. Note, too, that the first word he mentions — “catfrontation” — doesn’t even fit the pattern since it’s not an actual word. Its only redeeming feature is that it sparked off the game in the first place. ;)
     

    Dmitry87

    Senior Member
    Russian - The Russian Federation
    The joke element comes not from just saying a word that happens to include the letters CAT (catapult, caterpillar, catkin are further examples) but from cleverly putting that word into a viable sentence in a funny way.
    Aha, I've got the hang of it)
    In other words, it’s the play on words in the whole sentence that constitutes a pun, not the word on its own.
    So the pun isn't a word itself, but a humorous message in a dialogue, the idea around which a dialogue centers, and which makes a conversation funny, am I right?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I wouldn’t like to give it too narrow a definition. Oxford’s is: A joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words which sound alike but have different meanings.

    There’s a list of examples here: Examples of Puns
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I suspect that my definition (of "pun") is less strict than lingobingo's. I would definitely say that "floordrobe" was a pun on the word "wardrobe". I don't know if this is an AE/BE difference, or just a personal difference between my English and LB's English.

    Dictionary definitions are irrelevant. Native speakers don't look up "pun" in a dictionary, to decide what is or isn't a pun.
     

    Dmitry87

    Senior Member
    Russian - The Russian Federation
    I see the opinion is devided. I think it's worth opening a separate thread about "pun" :)
    Thanks everybody, anyway!
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The best such nonsense, in my view, is to be found in the long-running BBC Radio 4 comedy panel game “I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue”. Supremely groanworthy.
     
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