Visual pun

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

"Copying is not theft!" badge with a character resembling Mickey Mouse is a visual pun on Mickey as a symbol of the whole intellectual property industry and its attitude towards copying.

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 from Prinsengracht, Amsterdam, 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.


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Further reading[edit]

  • 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.

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