Created By: JoveHack on January 23, 2013 Last Edited By: LordGro on April 13, 2013
Troped

Fun with Homophones

Using spoken homophones (sound-alikes) for fun.

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Trope
Indeed

"Lord, they do respect her but..."
--Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, "Her Strut"

A homophone is a word or phrase that sounds like, or very similar, to something different when spoken. It is a case of Double Meaning, but even easier to miss, especially when read and not heard.

Naturally, this can be mined for laughs. The result is a type of Pun, but one that relies on sound instead of written language. But homophones can be used for many purposes and thus overlap with various other tropes:
  • Multiple Reference Pun: A character makes a pun based on a homophone in-story. Often a Stealth Insult, sometimes just a plain insult.
  • Double Entendre: A phrase has a "dirty" double sense. A good method for Getting Crap Past the Radar. If a Double Entendre is unintended by the speaker, it's an Innocent Innuendo.
  • Meaningful Name: A character's name has a phonetical double-meaning, especially one that describes the character or his role.
  • Punny Name: Like the above, but funnier.
  • A line of dialogue has a double meaning, un-intended by the speaker, that reveals more of their character or motives than they intended.
  • A word or line of dialogue is comically misunderstood by a character, from which ensues hilarity. Who's on First? is a veteran example of this. Mondegreen is when it happens with song lyrics.

Also very frequently found in the context of prank phone calls, where the full name is a homophone for a dirty phrase.

Compare Fun with Acronyms and Fun with Palindromes.

Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Film]]
  • My Favorite Year Alan Swann (played by Peter O'Toole) advised Benjy Stone (Mark Linn-Baker) on his romantic pursuit of K.C. Downing (Jessica Harper). Swann restrained Stone from pursuing Downing just long enough to advise "Always let her think she is being chaste/chased."
  • Moneypenny [Samantha Bond]'s "You always were a cunning linguist (cunnilinguist), James" to James Bond in Tomorrow Never Dies. Source.
  • In The Marx Brothers films, Groucho Marx uses phonetic puns and double-entendres as one of his signature traits:
    • A Night at the Opera. When Groucho is told a certain singer is paid a thousand dollars a night, Groucho responds, "A thousand dollars a nacht?!" If you speak German, like Groucho did, you'll hear "a nacht" (a night). If you don't speak German you'll hear "an act". Both make the same amount of sense. Making this a bi-lingual Meaningful Homophone.

  • In Toy Story 3 Barbie says to Ken, "Nice ass-cot."

  • Megamind names his protege "Titan", and Titan promptly decries the name as stupid. It's not until he writes his own super-name across the city, in 20-meter-long letters of flaming destruction that the viewers learn he thought his new name was Tighten.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature]]
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:
    • Rita Skeeter says "The Prophet exists to sell itself, you silly girl." Thus hinting that the reader should have known all along that The Daily Prophet wasn't concerned with anything but its own profit.
    • There's also the Yule/you'll Ball.
  • Invoked and lampshaded in Feet of Clay: When Dragon King of Arms (an ancient vampire) tells Vimes "Pray, enter", Vimes (who hates vampires) thinks to himself that he hears it as "Prey, enter."
  • Gunpowder God in the Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen series. A commander visits his wounded troops in the hospital, and comments on the attractiveness of their nurse. "She has been most marvelously chaste", replies one of the men mischievously. "Of course she has [been chased]," roars the commander, "but has she been caught?"
  • In one Ramona Quimby novel where, on her first day in class, Ramona caused a minor ruckus because when the teacher said "you can sit here for the present", Ramona didn't realize the teacher was meaning "the present time" instead of "a gift".
  • Hiro is the hero of Snow Crash.
  • Piers Anthony's Xanth series is fond of this trope:
    • "Isle of View" being confused with "I love you."
    • The title of Crewel Lye: A Caustic Yarn is ambiguous on four counts:
      • Crewel is a form of embroidery using wool, and a homophone for "cruel".
      • Lye is a caustic (i.e. chemically active creating burns) liquid, and a homophone for "lie".
      • Caustic can be caustic chemical, or just an adjective meaning bitter.
      • Yarn is a tale, except when it's used for knitting.
  • Encyclopedia Brown:
    • "The Case of the Flower Can". A thief accidentally drops a valuable Confederate coin into a can filled with flowers. Encyclopedia knows he'll try to get it back, so he sets a trap. When a man comes to the door claiming to be selling magazines, a woman hands him a can of flour and says she put the coin in "the flour can". Instead of dumping out the flour to look for the coin, he searches until he finds the can filled with flowers, thus proving that he's the thief. Only the thief would think that she was talking about a "flower" can.
    • Another mystery has a diamond theft solved by the detective announcing the diamond is "an arrow flight away" (it was taken out of its case, attached to an arrow, and shot out the window). The guilty person was the only one who thought to look outside because he knew a bow and arrow were involved, everyone else assumed the diamond was upstairs, i.e. "a narrow flight" of stairs away.
  • Riddley Walker, which is completely written in a first-person Funetik Aksent, takes advantage of the ambiguity to have double meanings all over the place. One of the main ones is "hart of the wud", which variously means "hart (deer) of the wood", "heart of the wood", and "heart of the would" (as in, the will). Usually it means more than one of those at the same time.
  • The O. Henry short story 'Sound and Fury' is the 'fun' variety of this. An author is dictating a story to his stenographer, and her comments indicates she keeps getting it wrong. Their names are respectively Mr. Penne and Miss Lore, so they also have Punny Names.
    MR. PENNE (dictates) "...Cortland, with his arm firmly entwined abouther waist, knew nothing of her sighs--"
    MISS LORE Goodness! If he couldn't tell her size with his arm around--
  • There's an SF fantastical short story where the situation get so bad that the main character tenders his resignation by orally instructing the comms officer send two words to headquarters, "I quit." Later, through a series of miraculous contrivances, all becomes well. Except that due to the resignation message the hero will be unable to reap the rewards of his labors. The day is saved (for the final time) when it turns out that the comms officer sent the two words "Ike Witt," a person know to both HQ and the hero. Headquarters had duly transferred Ike Witt to the hero's command.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
  • In BlackAdder I, a horse is being questioned on the witness stand in Black Adder's trial for being a witch. Upon answering with a neighing sound, the prosecutor asks for clarification "Was that a 'neigh' or a 'nay'?" (The subtitles spell this out.)
  • In Home Improvement, Tim's son is talking to him via videotape, and claims "There is greatness in my genes/jeans."
  • In an episode of Lois and Clark, Tempus, who became the President, addresses Superman on television and states:
    I hope we can find a place for you in the Doe administration... I hope you can understand that ... and if you, Kent... I mean can't
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Music]]
  • Rammstein's song "Du Hast". In German, "du hast" means "you have," and "du hasst" means "you hate," and they're pronounced almost identically. So the lines, "Du. Du hast. Du hast mich," are commonly heard as, "You. You hate. You hate me." (The sentence fully sung is, "Du hast mich gefragt, und ich hab nichts gesagt," meaning, "You asked me, and I said nothing.")
[[/folder]]

[[Theatre]]
  • Discussed & spelled out in Elaine May's one-act play Adaptation (no relation to the film of the same name):
    Norma: Last year I read "The Prophet" aloud at my parents' seder. My mother cried. She didn't understand. I wanted them to hear "The Prophet" so they could understand love - but too many people spell it f-i-t.
    Phil: F-i-t?
    Norma: Yes, ironic isn't it? That's how they spell everything.
    Phil: F-i-t spells "fit."
    Norma: I know. That's why "The Prophet" is meaningless to them.
    Phil: Oh, they spell Prophet f-i-t.
Phil then misses the point Norma was making, discussing illiteracy.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games]]
  • In Portal, GlaDOS tells Chell "When the testing is over, you will be...missed/mist." The subtitles only state "will be missed", as expected. Subtitles have difficulty properly rendering an ambiguous spoken homonym. Considering the flames at the end of the testing course, most of Chell will be mist, and pretty quickly too. In the event, Chell is fine because she used portals so that the flames missed her. So GlaDOS was literally telling the truth!
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day: Conker sounds like "conquer".
  • Used several times in BloodRayne with character names: Blood Rayne = "blood rain", Ferril = "feral".
  • Flushed Away has a phonetic pun across two different speakers:
    Roddie St. James: What the ...
    Sid the Sewer Rat: Hello!
  • Uncharted has Sully, who sullies everything he comes in contact with.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Animation]]
  • Yahtzee Croshaw will use these in his Zero Punctuation series. Illustrating the dialog with alternate words with the same pronunciation. "Butt Weight" was used to subtitle "But Wait!" Adding confusion for the sake of humor.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Other]]
  • A joke: Why will you never go hungry in the desert? Because of all the sandwiches [= "sand which is"] there!
  • A lot of Stirlitz jokes, from Russian Humour, are based on this. It's often difficult to translate them.
  • The joke name for a law firm: "Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe".
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Real Life]]
  • Once in the Australian Parliament, Sir Winston Turnbull was giving a speech that included the words "I am a country member." Gough Whitlam interjected: "I remember."
[[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 86
  • January 23, 2013
    Chernoskill
    In can only think of M's "You always were a cunning linguist (cunnilinguist), James" in Golden Eye (or was it one of the later Brosnan movies?)
  • January 23, 2013
    JoveHack
    @Chernoskill,

    That's a good one. I hadn't considered anything past single word sound-a-likes. That opens up the field a bit.

    Thanks.
  • January 23, 2013
    robinjohnson
  • January 23, 2013
    JoveHack
    @robinjohnson

    I like it.
  • January 23, 2013
    JonnyB
    This was one of Groucho Marx's signatures, using puns, plays on words and double-entendres as put-downs and jabs.
  • January 23, 2013
    aurora369
    Lot of Stirlitz jokes, from Russian Humour, are based on this. It's often difficult to translate them.
  • January 24, 2013
    Bisected8
    I think the portal example's stretching.

    "Mist" has nothing to do with fire and "missed" carries the same implication of disappearing without the need for any other word to be involved. Not to mention the subtitles don't support the pun (in the case of this trope, using the hidden meaning is pretty standard when transcribing the joke).

    Also, Vimes has a hatred of vampires (since their hat is basically an exageration of everything he hates about the upper classes), not a morbid fear.
  • January 24, 2013
    JoveHack
    @Bisected8

    Made the correction for Vimes. Thanks.

    I'm not so sure the Portal example is a reach. It was actually Gla DOS's verbal cruelty that clued me into the possibility. When she says something ambiguous I figure that every possible angle of viciousness should be explored.

    Mist has everything to do with what Chell's corpse will become in the intense heat.

    Not that all mists are water, but the first vapors emitted by Chell in the furnace would probably be the fluids in her body being expressed by the heat.

  • January 24, 2013
    robinjohnson
    The Blackadder example is from series 1 ("The Black Adder"), not Blackadder II.
  • January 24, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Perhaps we can just call it Ad Homonym? (Or Add Homonym?)
  • January 24, 2013
    Met
    Speaking of Groucho, in A Night At The Opera when Groucho is told a certain singer is paid a thousand dollars a night, Groucho responds, "A thousand dollars a nacht?!" If you speak German, like Groucho did, you'll hear "a nacht" (a night). If you don't speak German you'll hear "an act". Both make the same amount of sense.
  • January 25, 2013
    Arivne
    ^^ Seconding Ad Homonym.
  • January 25, 2013
    robinjohnson
    ^ Ad Homonym Attack is good (in my humble opinion) for a trope about homonyms specifically used as snarky put-downs. If the trope is going to be broader than that, I'll third Ad Homonym (or Add Homonym - is that because you're adding a homonym to the sentence? Does that work?)

    ...but, maybe the trope doesn't need to be that broad? Just "a homonym-based pun" isn't much of a trope by itself; maybe it should focus on the put-downs and be Ad Homonym Attack.
  • January 25, 2013
    grinch
    Not sure if this counts, but the Gerard Depardieu production of The Count of Monte Cristo contains an unintentional one in the English subtitles: "No, no presents please. I just want your presence." Though this obviously wouldn't count if we go with the Attack theme..
  • January 25, 2013
    JoveHack
    We have a page quote! Heard it on the car radio. Figured that was a sign. So switched the title to Add Homonym, which is perfect. Perhaps later we can have Ad Homonym Attack as a subtrope, because that's a good name too.

    I've tried to hack in just all previous suggestions. Let me know if I missed any.

    Checked around and found a source for the "cunning linguist" quote. If I hadn't heard Bob Seeger on the radio, that would have been a good candidate for the page quote.

    Thanks, everyone.

  • January 25, 2013
    StarSword
    ^^That one seems like a combination of this and Fun With Subtitles.
  • January 26, 2013
    Stratadrake
    I think it was one (the first?) Ramona novel where, on her first day in class, Ramona caused a minor ruckus because when the teacher said "you can sit here for the present", Ramona didn't realize the teacher was meaning "the present time" instead of "a gift".
  • January 26, 2013
    robinjohnson
    A Real Life example:
    • Once in the Australian Parliament, Sir Winston Turnbull was giving a speech that included the words "I am a country member." Gough Whitlam interjected: "I remember."
  • January 26, 2013
    Xtifr
    I realize this may be asking a bit much--and I realize that it may seem almost unnecessary--but...shouldn't there be a description? Somewhere?

    I mean, just for consistency with other tropes, if nothing else. :)
  • January 27, 2013
    JoveHack
    @Xtifr

    lol, good point. I've added a barebones description. Any suggestions for improvements welcome.
  • January 27, 2013
    JoveHack
    There's a movie where a girl is dyeing clothes in a sink filled with red dye. Someone comes in and she raises her forearms and hands covered in red liquid, stating "Don't worry, I'm only dying/dyeing."

    It may be Heathers, The Virgin Suicides, something else entirely, or I'm misremembering. Can anyone help with this?
  • January 27, 2013
    JoveHack
  • January 27, 2013
    JoveHack
    Added * In Harry Potter: The Order of the Phoenix, Rita Skeeter says "The Prophet/Profit exists to sell itself, you silly girl."
  • January 29, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • Discussed & spelled out in Elaine May's one-act play Adaptation (no relation to the film of the same name):
      Norma: Last year I read "The Prophet" aloud at my parents' seder. My mother cried. She didn't understand. I wanted them to hear "The Prophet" so they could understand love - but too many people spell it f-i-t.
      Phil: F-i-t?
      Norma: Yes, ironic isn't it? That's how they spell everything.
      Phil: F-i-t spells "fit."
      Norma: I know. That's why "The Prophet" is meaningless to them.
      Phil: Oh, they spell Prophet f-i-t.
    Phil then misses the point Norma was making, discussing illiteracy.
  • January 29, 2013
    Tuomas
    The term homonym is used wrongly here. "Homonym" refers to words that are both written and pronounced exactly the same, but have different meanings. However, most of the examples here are homophones, i.e. words that are pronounced the same but spelled differently. I get it that the gag in the title requires the word "homonym", but it's a bit misleading.
  • January 29, 2013
    JoveHack
    @Tuomas,

    You're absolutely right. Thanks for explaining it clearly.

    I'd like to not have that kind of confusion, and borderline illiteracy, in the title, especially on TV Tropes. Add Homonym is a great title, but it would be better if we can find something just as good using Homophone.

    Initial replacement proposal would be a mod of the initial proposal, Homophone Horror.
  • January 29, 2013
    Met
    Why Horror? How about Homophone Humor.
  • January 29, 2013
    randomsurfer
  • January 29, 2013
    JoveHack
    @Met, That works.

    @randomsurfer, It took me until now to figure out the play on "Homophobia". I really like that, too.
  • January 29, 2013
    ArtFever
    I'll back you up on Homophonia.
  • January 30, 2013
    JoveHack
    I just realized that character names are big part of this trope, and probably the most obvious.

    etc.
  • January 30, 2013
    LordGro
    I'd prefer Sounds Like A Pun.
  • January 30, 2013
    JoveHack
    @Lord Gro,

    You ninja'd me just as the name was being changed.

    That is a good one. It helps that it spells out the meaning in the title, which this trope probably needs. I'll switch to that for now.
  • January 30, 2013
    Bisected8
    Another vote for Sounds Like A Pun.
  • January 30, 2013
    robinjohnson
    Isn't that kind of just what a pun is, though?
  • January 30, 2013
    Bisected8
    A pun is any play on words. Multiple Reference Pun is similar to this trope, but it relies on semantics rather than homonyms, for example.
  • January 30, 2013
    Wutaz
    I think there are too many pun tropes already. We only need one, since puns have no impact on story and differ from each other only in minor details of how they were made. And the new title makes it sound even more redundant. As robinjohnson said, all puns are based on how the words sound.
  • January 31, 2013
    LordGro
    Not all puns are based on homophones. Many just rely on similar sounding words, or on words or phrases that have more than one meaning. Although it seems homophone-based puns are sufficiently covered in Multiple Reference Pun.

    But come to think of it, this trope is not only about puns. A character named Hiro is a Meaningful Name, but not a pun. Or a line of dialogue may get a revealing double sense not intended by the speaking character, like in "the Prophet/Profit exists to sell itself", which is also not an actual pun. I think the proper name would be something like Meaningful Homophone.
  • January 31, 2013
    StarSword
    I liked Ad Homonym better.
  • January 31, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Yeah. @Toumas: While you're technically correct about the distinction between "homonym" and "homophone", the word 'homonym' is in practice often used in place of either.
  • January 31, 2013
    JoveHack
    @Lord Gro, Meaningful Homophone would be the best technical solution, along with fitting in with the "Meaningful..." tropes.

    @Star Sword,

    Add Homonym, or Ad Homonym?

    @Stratadrake,

    Good point. Add Homonym would also fit under Rule Of Cool.

    The problem with Sound Like A Pun, now that I think about it, is that it's predisposed for humor, and while homophones are frequently used for that, there are some deeper uses. Those more serious approaches are what attracted me initially.
  • February 1, 2013
    Wutaz
    Well, don't the "deeper uses" currently go under Stealth Pun?
  • February 1, 2013
    StarSword
    @Jove Hack: Ad Homonym. It's closer to the logical fallacy it's punning.
  • February 1, 2013
    JoveHack
    @Wutaz,

    You're right, but at the moment I'm going with the Rule Of Funny title.

    @Star Sword,

    Agreed.

    If there's enough support for Sounds Like A Pun, or simple opposition to Ad Homonym, that can change.

    At the moment it looks like we're almost ready to go, though. Presumably title changes can be made later as decided by the powers that be. Or if anyone wants to delay for more discussion, that's fine too.
  • February 2, 2013
    LordGro
    ^ Title changes are a pain in the ass. Especially if the title is not really indicative of what the trope is, which can lead to many incorrect wicks. Picking a good name to launch with is much preferable and one of the most important tasks of YKTTW.

    Ad Homonym is a bad title, because a) the trope as described is about homophones, not about homonyms; b) the trope as described is not only about Stealth Insults (or just insults), as the pun on "ad hominem" would imply.

    Stealth Pun is when the word that would complete the pun is not actually said (or written). That's something different. And as was said earlier, the trope is broader than a mere pun trope. Punny examples are sufficiently covered in Multiple Reference Pun; we don't need an extra page for punny homophones.

    As I said, the name should be Meaningful Homophone or something that conveys the same meaning.
  • February 2, 2013
    JoveHack
    @Lord Gro,

    Well reasoned. So modified.

    I see we have a motion to discard. How is that decided?

    I can see that there are aspects of this in other tropes, but there doesn't seem to be one that fully captures the brilliance of a title like Crewel Lye: A Caustic Yarn.
  • February 2, 2013
    StarSword
    Re: the motion to discard: That generally requires other tropers' support. Near as I can tell, we've only got one comment saying Yes We Do Have This One, and I disagree.
  • February 3, 2013
    SinisterShenanigans
    Meaningful Homophone or Homophonia could work as a title. Lord Gro's reasoning is pretty much spot on with my views on Ad Homonym as a title, so I'll leave it at that.

    Other than that, the description could use some help. The description is barely longer than the laconic before it dives in to subtropes and examples.
  • February 3, 2013
    JoveHack
    @Sinister Shenanigans,

    Thanks. I've expanded the description a little, but any help with the description would be welcome.
  • February 3, 2013
    Gwendy
    Rammstein's most-known song "Du Hast" is made of this. In German, "du hast" means "you have," and "du hasst" means "you hate," and they're pronounced almost identically. So the lines, "Du. Du hast. Du hast mich," are commonly heard as, "You. You hate. You hate me." (The sentence fully sung is, "Du hast mich gefragt, und ich hab nichts gesagt," meaning, "You have asked me, and I have said nothing.")
  • February 3, 2013
    rodneyAnonymous
    There is natter and improper Example Indentation in a draft. Please correct before launching.
  • February 4, 2013
    Chabal2
    A mystery by the author of Encyclopedia Brown has a diamond theft solved by the detective announcing the diamond is "an arrow flight away" (it was taken out of its case, attached to an arrow, and shot out the window). The guilty person was the only one who thought to look outside because he knew a bow and arrow were involved, everyone else assumed the diamond was upstairs, i.e. "a narrow flight" of stairs away.
  • February 4, 2013
    JoveHack
    @Chabal2,

    Thanks. That's just the kind of clever use that I think is the heart of this trope.

    @rodney Anonymous

    Thanks for the input. Could you please be more specific?
  • February 5, 2013
    Arivne
    Literature
    • Encyclopedia Brown
      • "The Case of the Flower Can". A thief accidentally drops a valuable Confederate coin into a can filled with flowers. Encyclopedia knows he'll try to get it back, so he sets a trap. When a man comes to the door claiming to be selling magazines, a woman hands him a can of flour and says she put the coin in "the flour can". Instead of dumping out the flour to look for the coin, he searches until he finds the can filled with flowers, thus proving that he's the thief. Only the thief would think that she was talking about a "flower" can.
  • February 6, 2013
    JoveHack
    Looks like it's ready to launch. Probably by the weekend.
  • February 13, 2013
    JoveHack
    Launching tomorrow. Anyone know how to add the appropriate indexes?
  • February 14, 2013
    LordGro
    It will need a better description before launching. The description shouldn't contain examples, so these should be moved to the example section.

    The description should also drop some words on what are the functions of such homophones.

    Also, as rodney Anonymous pointed out, the example section has bad indentation and natter. If you don't know how it's supposed to look, read Example Indentation and Conversation In The Main Page.
  • February 14, 2013
    randomsurfer
    ^^Go to the appropriate index pages and add the launched page to them; the index will be automatically added to the bottom.
  • February 15, 2013
    Arivne
    I did my best to clean up the examples section (namespacing, italicizing, bad Example Indentation, etc.).
  • February 20, 2013
    JoveHack
    @Lord Gro,

    I'm not sure how to improve the description. Been thinking on it but no inspiration yet. By drop some words on what are the functions of such homophones, do you mean removing some of the text?

    @Arivne, thanks for working on it while I was busy elsewhere. It really needed that cleanup.
  • February 20, 2013
    Xtifr
    Literature:

    • Riddley Walker, which is completely written in a first-person Funetik Aksent, takes advantage of the ambiguity to have double meanings all over the place. One of the main ones is "hart of the wud", which variously means "hart (deer) of the wood", "heart of the wood", and "heart of the would" (as in, the will). Usually it means more than one of those at the same time.
  • February 21, 2013
    LordGro
    @JoveHack: With "drop some words", I meant that you should talk about it (not remove words).

    I worked on the description. All the examples in the description were moved down. Feel free to improve the description.

    The Gerard Depardieu/Count of Monte Cristo example wasn't an example. An unintentional homophone in the subtitles is a coincidence, maybe a translation screw-up, but not a trope.

    I also made changes to several examples. Please see How To Write An Example.

    EDIT: I am under the impresion we are trying to mash more than one trope into one page. Right now the page is collecting any examples of homophones in fiction. But a character making a homophone-based pun/insult in-story is an entirely different trope than a character have a meaningful homophone for a name. There's Meaningful Homophone, and then there's Fun With Homophones. I propose a split.
  • February 22, 2013
    Chabal2
  • February 22, 2013
    Omeganian
    In an episode of Lois And Clark, Tempus, who became the President, addresses Superman on television and states:
    I hope we can find a place for you in the Doe administration... I hope you can understand that ... and if you, Kent... I mean can't
  • February 22, 2013
    valozzy
    Compare with [Double Entendre]?
  • March 13, 2013
    JoveHack
    @Lord Gro,

    Sorry, was indisposed for a week there. I see your point, to a certain extent, but I'm not sure how to pin down the exact difference between the two.

    @valozzy, Good point. Explaining the differences with and similarities to Double Entendre would go a long way towards defining Meaningful Homophone.

    Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe, Attys at law.
  • March 14, 2013
    LordGro
    ^ Meaningful Homophone is when a homophone serves characterization, as a Meaningful Name or a Foreshadowing. It's usually not, or only mildly funny. Examples: A character called Hiro, "the Prophet/profit exists to sell itself"

    Fun With Homophones (compare Fun With Acronyms) are homophones used for laughs. Examples: Crewel Lye, A Caustic Yarn, "Was that a neigh or a nay?" etc

    EDIT: Maybe we could cover everything in Fun With Homophones.
  • March 14, 2013
    JoveHack
    @Lord Gro,

    I like the Fun With Homophones catchall to start, although I do like your division between plot meaningful and just for fun. Great examples, too. Maybe we could just point out that some homophones are more meaningful then others, then kind of tag the examples of those?

    One thing maybe we could bring out a bit more is that this is a good way to make adult/complex jokes without leaving younger viewers going "What?" at the screen. They may be going "what" at their parents laughing, but the dialog itself won't confuse them.

    This crosses over into "You have a dirty mind" territory, where there're two ways the phrase can be heard. Who's going to complain and admit they heard the dirty version?
  • March 18, 2013
    JoveHack
    Okay, how do I upload an image again? I've got the perfect picture. It's an actual screencap from the game Tomb Raider Legend, with the subtitles turned on. The on-screen text has not been modified.

    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/842/tombraiderlegendbolivia.jpg/

    Intended TV Tropes Caption: "Indeed."

    Slow reveal of the meaning over on Tomb Raider Forums. http://www.tombraiderforums.com/showthread.php?t=179501
  • March 18, 2013
    LordGro
    Meh. It might have been funny when "scending"/"cending" was an actual word with a somehow fitting meaning. But the way it is, it is not even a real joke.

    I tried to rewrite the description to be more in line with the new title. There should also be a distinction of homophones that have a function in-story (for instance, a character makes a phonetic pun) and homophones that are only there for the benefit of the audience and are not pointed out or acknowledged in-story, like Meaningful Names or homophunny work titles. I suppose nobody is going to say to a character called Hiro: "Hey! Your name sounds like 'hero', means you are the hero of this story!"

    [As an aside, I actually thought about suggesting Homophun or Homophunny as trope title, but I suppose people would think it has something to do with funny homosexuals.]
  • March 20, 2013
    JoveHack
    @Lord Gro,

    Thanks for editing. I think you've done a great job just by listing all the various subtropes, because this is a wide-ranging and frequently used trope. It's realy good to point out how easy it is to miss this, especially in text. The number and types of examples is becoming impressive even to me.

    Re: the image, "ending" is a word. As far as I can tell, the funny homonym is literally what is appearing on screen. As such, it's perfect with the existing page quote, too. (You'll have a difficult time convincing me it wasn't intentional on the part of the developers.) Lara's one word line there bothered me for a long time, because it would have better described her usual vaulting/jumping up on the ledge.

    The current problem with the image is that it's too wide. Edit: Edited image, uploaded, and added. Didn't notice the subtitles were not aligned with Lara before. The Caption's not cooperating, even though it's copied almost exactly from the suggested caption markup when the file was uploaded.

    Anyone else notice the grenade shadows in the image, but no grenades on Lara's belt?

    I was actually thinking along the same lines re: the title. Something like Hide Your Homophones, which this sometimes is. Edit: Reading the replies and found Homophonia, originally suggested by randomsurfer. Evokes Homophobia, and almost expresses the huge kingdom of homophones we've exposed. Not sure it works completely along those lines, though.

    Okay, that's my last edit of this reply.

    Thanks again for your help with this, especially the twists and turns of the definition.
  • March 20, 2013
    Alvin
    The O Henry short story 'Sound and Fury' is the 'fun' variety of this. An author is dictating a story to his stenographer, and her comments indicates she keeps getting it wrong. Theit names are respectively Mr. Penne and Miss Lore, so they also have Punny Names.
  • March 20, 2013
    JoveHack
    @Alvin,

    Thanks. Pulled my book of O'Henry stories off of the shelf and pulled a quote from the story.
  • March 21, 2013
    LordGro
    @JoveHack: I didn't mean Fun With Homophones is a bad name. I think it's good, much better than Homophonia (the allusion to "homophobia" makes no sense and is distracting) or Hide Your Homophones. "Hidden" homophones (homophones that play no role in-story are only there for the benefit of the perceptive viewer) are only part of the trope as it is written now.

    And "ass-ending" still isn't a sensible phrase, so it's still a groaner. Also, the quote also makes a butt-related joke. The focus on backsides is somewhat too strong for my taste.
  • March 22, 2013
    JoveHack
    @LordGro,

    I understand now, on both points. Hide Your Homophones I took with a different second meaning, that of hiding double meanings in plain sight through use of homophones. But this is probably quibbling on a subject we seem to be in complete agreement about.

    Fun With Homophones is more than good enough on its own. The clarity of a straightforward name stands in contrast with the aural confusion of a good homophone.

    "Ass-ending" I will continue to defend as sensible in light of the screencap, since if Lara's legs were in line with her body then there would be no "ending" at that point.

    As for being a groaner and closer to the line of good taste than I would enjoy, guilty on both counts. But (homophone pun intended), that's one of the more popular uses of this trope in Real Life dirty jokes. And considering the focus on backsides, the two page examples seem to be in about as good a taste as possible.

    The thematic unity of the two examples seems serendipitous as well. Yes, a lot of homophones are much worse than this, but look how they were used in these works of actual, Real World popular culture. The song in particular is brazen Getting Crap Past The Radar. It shows that it's possible to be risque without being overt, and with decently camouflaged intentions strictly through use of this trope.

    Or am I overthinking this?

    P.S. Once again, I think we're ready to launch. Just need to figure out which indexes to use.

  • March 24, 2013
    LordGro
    ^ Normally there should be five hats before launching.
  • March 25, 2013
    JoveHack
    ^ Didn't we used to have five hats?
  • March 26, 2013
    JoveHack

    This is currently listed on the Toy Story 3 page under Lost In Translation.
  • March 27, 2013
    LordGro
    ^ The way you wrote that example doesn't imply there was a joke intended. Is there a joke? As you know, words beginning with "as-" are not exactly rare.
  • March 27, 2013
    JoveHack

    Better?

    It may be worth adding a note to the description, to the effect that these get past the radar of people with clean minds.
  • March 31, 2013
    JET73L
    Assuming this is still about to be launched, this can go under Film (with Toy Story 3) or Western Animation (apparently on its own):

    • Megamind names his protege "Titan", and Titan promptly decries the name as stupid. It's not until he writes his own super-name across the city, in 20-meter-long letters of flaming destruction that the viewers learn he thought his new name was Tighten.

    Edit: P.S.: Yet another vote for "Fun With Homonyms" as a title. Succinct, clear, and descriptive. Also, "protégé" breaks the formatting.
  • April 1, 2013
    JoveHack
    @JET73L

    Thanks for the entry. It's been added.

    I don't know about launching. It seems fine to me, but doesn't have five hats yet.

    Edit: Thanks for the Hat!

    Now that the trope's got five hats, launch is scheduled for Wednesday-Thursday, let anyone get their last minute additions/corrections in.
  • April 1, 2013
    lakingsif
    The Toy Story 3 one makes no sense, so she says 'ascot' the American way so it sounds like ass-cot. There's still 'cot', so why would she have said it? It's too subtle for anyone but some - well done - and, honestly, probably wasn't intentional at all. Unless she meant to say 'ass' and changed her mind at the last second to keep the parents happy. If you're counting those there are so many examples it'll become an Overdosed Trope.

    Get rid of the Harry Potter Yule Ball one. Just, why? Why would you nincompoops think that?

    Explain the law firm one better, or else people'll read it as it's said (D'you-whee Cheeth-ham ahn Ohw, Justin Case).

    Would the architecture student, Kuk Pu, of How I Met Your Mother count? They take the mick for an whole episode.

    And in Real Life Spanish Language asking someone "por que?" may very well garner the answer "porque". (Intonation is all you have to go off there.) Also, 'perro' means 'dog' and 'pero' means 'but'. Many Western English speakers can't roll their 'r's as is necessary and they sound the same because in 'perro' the roll is one of the most subtle in the language. Would turn the page quote into "They like her dog", but because the sentence is feminine could be heard as "They like her bitch".

    In the German Language, 'Ruhe' means 'peace' whereas the Ruhr is where the French invaded after WWI (yes after, long story). Americans pronounce them the same, but the Jerries aren't big fans of them being messed up. At all. 'Kirsche' is 'cherry' and 'Kirche' 'Church'. They're not good ones to mix up, either.

    Not to mention that in every language but English 'ananas' means 'pineapple'. People think you're saying 'bananas'.

    Then there's what St Jerome did in The Bible with Hebrew; 'keren' and 'karan' being interchangeable, but one means 'horned', the other 'radiant'. St Jerome understood the former, and translated that when Moses came down from the Mount with the Commandments his head was horned (as opposed to radiant, as was intended).

    Have you ever seen the 'Fork Handles' or 'Two Hoes' sketch (hoes as in garden hoes... for one part), there are candles, door signs, and tights mentioned - among other tomfoolery - as a poor haberdashery shopkeeper tries to fetch the man what he requested. I don't know if they're ever shown in America, or if reading would help because Americans pronounce the 'h'.

    There's the old joke of a policeman questioning a woman- 'He says, "How'd you fall, Eileen Dover?" She says... why you laughing, I ain't finished?'
  • April 2, 2013
    aurora369
    There should be more self-demonstration. Like "Man, homophonia isn't funny! Oh, sorry, it's homophobia".
  • April 3, 2013
    JoveHack
    @lakingsif,

    Thanks for the post, but that's a too much when we're about ready to launch. At most we're ready for a minor correction or two.

    @aurora369,

    Maybe after launch, and we've decided not to go for the homophonia/homophobia confusion due to the confusion not really serving the trope.
  • April 13, 2013
    JoveHack
    Launched!

    Page created successfully, and added to the Dialogue, Language Tropes, and Pun indexes. Laconic page also created.

    I welcome other suggestions for indexing.

    Thanks to everyone for their help.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=bejchp8u463715zk8xmxc1zw