For the love of puns
John McMackin | Monday, February 24, 2014
There is a startling problem at Our Lady’s University. It is an issue that Fr. John Jenkins, C.S.C. and his entire administration have been criminally negligent in response to: The rate of pun usage in general conversation at the University of Notre Dame is far too low. Recent studies suggest that the student body may be on its way to using fewer puns than it has in over 70 years. But the issue does not stop there. It isn’t just that students at Notre Dame do not use enough puns, it’s that many do not even realize when they have inadvertently set up one. I myself recently walked past a couple who made not one, not two, not three, but four inadvertent puns and did not recognize a single one. This is truly a sad state of affairs for the University of Notre Dame du Lac.
Has the administration done anything to address this problem? No. Why are there no pun awareness posters on campus? Why aren’t there “Pun for Fun” groups meeting late on Wednesday nights to trade chortles and swap cackles? Not a single faculty member is even dedicated specifically to the promotion, research or teaching of proper pun formation and delivery. This is outrageous.
But unfortunately this phenomenon is not unique to our bubble here in South Bend. This trend is happening across our great country. The United States has fallen behind many of our peer countries in pun production and recognition in every age group. Our standards have deteriorated to the point that we are in danger of being passed by Germany. Who on earth has ever heard of a good German pun or a good German sense of humor? In 1950, we led the world, and it wasn’t even close. Now, South Korea, Australia and Sweden are fighting at the top, and we don’t have a shot.
Notre Dame thinks of itself as a great institution and as a leader in education. I challenge our newly-elected student body president and vice-president to make pun promotion a key part of their first 100 days in office. We have such a bright future and such potential, but it will be squandered if we do not step up to the plate and get serious about puns. I call for a Cognizance of Puns Week to take place from March 2 to March 8. Tell a pun, share a pun, whether it be good or bad, humorous or awkward, annoying or invigorating, timely or untimely. If we want to be a city upon a hill, we must be willing to accept the mantle of responsibility. We are the Fighting Irish, and we are “punny.”