misunderstanding. Yet it is this very characteristic which makes them one of the most important sources of popular humour.
The pun is a joke based upon the play upon words of similar form but different meaning (i. e. on homonyms) as in the following:
"A tailor guarantees to give each of his customers a perfect fit."
(The joke is based on the homonyms: I. fit, n. — perfectly fitting clothes; II. fit, n. — a nervous spasm.)
Homonyms which are the same in sound and spelling (as the examples given in the beginning of this chapter) are traditionally termed homonyms proper.
The following joke is based on a pun which makes use of another type of homonyms:
"Waiter!" "Yes, sir." "What's this?" "It's bean soup, sir."
"Never mind what it has been. I want to know what it is now."
Bean, n. and been, Past Part, of to be are phones. As the example shows they are the same in sound but different in spelling. Here are some more examples of homophones:
night, n. — knight, n.; piece, n. — peace, n.; scent, n. — cent, n. — sent, v. (Past Indef., Past Part, of to send); rite, n. — to write, v. — right, adj.; sea, n. — to see, v. — С [si:] (the name of a letter).
The third type of homonyms is called homographs. These are words which are the same in spelling but different in sound.