Visual pun

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A gable stone in the village of Batenburg, Netherlands depicting a visual pun: Batenburg (Dutch for "profit castle") is shown as a castle turning silver coins into more valuable gold coins, thus creating profit.

A visual pun is a pun involving an image or images (in addition to or instead of language), often based on a rebus.

Visual puns in which the image is at odds with the inscription are common in cartoons such as Lost Consonants or The Far Side as well as in Dutch gable stones. For instance the "Batenburg" stone shown here, puns on the words baten (‘to profit’) and burg (‘castle’) which together make up the name of a village near Nijmegen. European heraldry contains the technique of canting arms, which can be considered punning.

Visual puns in heraldry

Visual puns on the bearer's name are used extensively as forms of heraldic expression, they are called canting arms. They have been used for centuries across Europe and have even been used recently by members of the British royal family, such as on the arms of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and of Princess Beatrice of York. The arms of U.S. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower are also canting.


See also

  • Japanese rebus monogram
  • Slapstick

Further reading

  • Christian Hempelmann and Andrea C. Samson. “Visual Puns and Verbal Puns: Descriptive Analogy or False Analogy?” In: Diana Popa and Salvatore Attardo (Eds.), “New Approaches to the Linguistics of Humor.” Galati: Dunarea de Jos. 2007. 180-196.
  • Heller, Steven (12 April 2012). "The Object Poster, the Visual Pun, and 3 Other Ideas That Changed Design". The Atlantic. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  • Shnidman, Ronen (8 February 2012). "Dror Karta's Play With Visual Pun". Algemeiner Journal. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  • Mendoza, Manuel (28 January 2017). "Bridgman|Packer creates visual puns, evokes sensuous mystery by blending dance with video imagery". Dallas News. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  • Mufson, Beckett (21 December 2015). "Korean Artist Makes Visual Puns from Pop Culture | Monday Insta Illustrator". Creators. Vice Media LLC. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  • Wilson, P.F. (25 January 2016). "Can you guess Matthew Broussard's visual puns?". City Pages. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  • Boyd, Chris (18 January 2018). "La Vie Dans Une Marionette: visual puns, no strings attached". The Australian. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  • Abed, Farough (March 1994). "Visual Puns as Interactive Illustrations: Their Effects on Recognition Memory". Metaphor and Symbolic Activity. 9 (1): 45–60. doi:10.1207/s15327868ms0901_3.

External links


Edited: 2021-06-18 14:29:33