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Abr11

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Eremita

The difficulty is seen at its starkest in Christopher's baffling weakness for puns. This doesn't much matter when the context is less than consequential (it merely grinds the reader to a temporary halt). But a pun can have no business in a serious proposition. Consider the following, from 2007: "In the very recent past, we have seen the Church of Rome befouled by its complicity with the unpardonable sin of child rape, or, as it might be phrased in Latin form, 'no child's behind left'." Thus the ending of the sentence visits a riotous indecorum on its beginning. The great grammarian and usage-watcher Henry Fowler attacked the "assumption that puns are per se contemptible … Puns are good, bad, or indifferent … " Actually, Fowler was wrong. "Puns are the lowest form of verbal facility," Christopher elsewhere concedes. But puns are the result of an anti-facility: they offer disrespect to language, and all they manage to do is make words look stupid. Martin Amis

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