Paraprosdokians are often used in satire and comedy because they keep the audience engaged and entertained.
What is a paraprosdokian?
Paraprosdokians subvert the audience’s initial expectations, prompting the reader or listener to rethink the intended meaning and see things in a new light. It is a type of wordplay that adds humor or offers an alternative perspective. Paraprosdokians keep the audience on their toes. Therefore, it is a popular tool for comedians, writers, and speakers.
How to use paraprosdokians
Although humor is a common characteristic of paraprosdokians, the goal is not always to be witty and amusing. Paraprosdokians are all about unexpected turns in meaning, which can evoke various emotional responses. For example, the quote “If you are going through hell, keep going,” is a motivational one; it encourages people to endure hardships and challenges rather than succumb to them.
Paraprosdokians vs puns
When someone uses a paraprosdokian, they are playing with our expectations. They say something seemingly straightforward, but the ending takes an unexpected twist, which changes the meaning of the phrase. The contrast between the expected and actual ending creates a humorous or dramatic effect.
On the other hand, puns exploit the multiple meanings of a word or words that sound similar but have different meanings. The humor in punning comes from the clever use of language.
In short, a paraprosdokian relies on a surprising twist in meaning (which may involve a pun), while a pun involves words or phrases with multiple interpretations.
Frequently asked questions about paraprosdokian
How do you pronounce “paraprosdokian”?
Paraprosdokian is pronounced par-uh-prohz-doh-kee-uhn. It is derived from Greek “para” (against) + “prosdokia” (expectation), meaning “against expectation.”
What is an unexpected ending to a sentence called?
An unexpected ending to a sentence or statement that leads the reader or listener to reinterpret the first part of the statement is called a paraprosdokian.
It is a figure of speech often used for comic or dramatic effect, as in “I haven’t slept for ten days, because that would be too long.”
What are some common types of wordplay?
Wordplay is using words in a witty, clever, and amusing way. Wordplay typically involves experimenting with the sounds, meanings, or construction of words. These are some common types of wordplay:
- Anagrams: rearranging the letters within a word so as to spell another word or words. An anagram of “angered” is “derange.”
- Puns: experimenting with the different meanings of a word or with words that sound similar, like “ate” and “eight.”
- Palindromes: words, phrases, or sentences that are spelled the same way backward and forward.
- Malapropisms: mixing up a word or phrase with a similar-sounding one that has a completely different meaning. For example, “a wealthy typhoon” instead of “tycoon.”
- Paraprosdokians: ending a sentence in a way that is unexpected and causes the reader or listener to reinterpret the beginning, resulting in humor or surprise. For example, “there are three kinds of people in the world—those who can count, and those who can’t.”