Friday, October 22, 2010

Wordplay – or Not

I love wordplay and puns, especially when they're done well.  The following paragraph header in an article about small kitchen appliances left me a little puzzled, though:


At first I found the need/knead play on words mildly amusing.  I continued to read, half-expecting a discourse on bread making machines or some other contraption capable of kneading dough.

My amusement quickly evaporated.

You see, the paragraph attached to this cutesy subtitle discussed appliances the writer felt were a justifiable expense for food prep – and bread maker or dough kneader were not on the list.  The paragraph really had nothing to do with the kind of "kneading" the header suggested. 

For a brief moment I considered the possibility that this was just another typo, albeit a well-placed one.  But the tone of the article suggested that "knead" was deliberately used, and not just a brain-to-keyboard disconnect.  I suppose some, including the author and his/her editor (if any), would argue that this particular use of "knead" was just fine for a kitchen-themed article.  It gets the reader's attention, and that's the goal, right?

To me, the wordplay fell flat.  It felt like the writer was throwing in a cute turn of phrase just for the sake of doing so.  The ploy may have worked for some readers, but it didn't work for me.

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