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05 July 2014 @ 07:00 pm
What do you call this?  
Searching for a literary term . . . something more specific than "catch-phrase" – this is something my mother and father both said, which I think they picked up in Oklahoma and/or Idaho in the twenties:

When someone made an inadvertent rhyme in conversation, my mother or dad would always say "He's a poet and don't know it, but his feet show it:  They're long, fellow."

Do any of the linguists in the company assembled know what you call an automatic paranomasia like that?

merciful_leemerciful_lee on July 6th, 2014 10:32 pm (UTC)
Re: What do you call this?
I'll field this one, everybody. Don't get up. Hi Joe, We here at the Startpage Search Engine for Advanced Linguistic Study refer to that as just a pun. A clever, yet simple, everyday garden variety pun. We enjoyed remembering it, though. Our parents also said that after inadvertent rhymes were uttered, leading us to speak very, very carefully from that point on. Thank You, Merciful Lee Dickens Seattle P.S. - I'm really enjoying your collected short stories! Dictated to my secretary but not read, 07-04-2014
alaimacercalaimacerc on July 7th, 2014 05:04 am (UTC)
This has already been most educational for me, as firstly, I'd never heard the "feet" part -- but often the initial segment, used alone. And secondly, I'd no idea what a paronomasia was... but happily, Google and wiktionary.

Not at all sure about the answer, though. I'm guessing the "punning" part isn't key, but rather it's the rote, stereotyped, "call-and-response" aspect, that the particular phrase is ritually intoned in a given circumstance? One might call it a locution or a set phrase, but those also seem far from sufficiently specific. Trying to think of other, similar examples, and rather blanking!
(Deleted comment)
pds_litpds_lit on July 7th, 2014 04:05 pm (UTC)
Our household uses the Scottish variant,

"He's a poet, and he disnae ken it."
joe_haldemanjoe_haldeman on July 9th, 2014 10:01 pm (UTC)
disnae world
ooo . . . that's good . . . .
(Anonymous) on July 7th, 2014 06:16 pm (UTC)
The variant I learned ended with "they're long fellows," which has the added virtue of punning on H. W. and prosody. Otherwise I'd just call the whole concatenation "rhyme, rhyme, rhyme (with pun), pun." The "feet" pun depends on plurisignation of the Marxist (type Groucho, as the French put it) variety. (It's polysemous, not to be confused with ill-tempered one-eyed cannibalistic giants, just as plurisignation is not a pulmonary disease.)

--Russell Letson (who's too lazy to sign in via despisèd Facebook and is otherwise a no-account)
joe_haldemanjoe_haldeman on July 7th, 2014 07:04 pm (UTC)
the toes have it
That's good, Russell. Adds another half-dimension of comedy.

alaimacercalaimacerc on July 10th, 2014 04:09 pm (UTC)
Re: the toes have it
Are we fractally converging on a whole joke, in the manner of Xeno? :)
hotclawshotclaws on July 7th, 2014 06:35 pm (UTC)
Is the phrase "running gag " any help? Or "in joke "? Or "family jargon "?
joe_haldemanjoe_haldeman on July 7th, 2014 07:12 pm (UTC)
running gag
Well, claws, you couldn't have a running gag without feet . . .
joe_haldemanjoe_haldeman on July 7th, 2014 07:14 pm (UTC)
Re: running gag
(Sorry . . . jokes about feet run in the family, obviously.)
hotclawshotclaws on July 10th, 2014 12:43 pm (UTC)
Re: running gag
You have no soul,you better toe the line with me.
alaimacercalaimacerc on July 9th, 2014 02:38 am (UTC)
"Running gag" does seem to capture the gist of the idea, though of course some gags can be "running", without being quite so stereotyped.

I've also, now that I think of it, heard the phrase "rote joke" in similar instances, but I'm not sure whether that has any especially clear or narrow definition.