Yet this neat little linguistic device - which exploits the multiple meanings of words or phrases that sound the same or similar - is considered by its detractors to be as irritating as it is irrepressible.
In the English-speaking world, punning is viewed as more of a tic than a trick, a pathological condition whose sufferers are classed as "compulsive", "inveterate" and "unable to help themselves".
I'm not against a good pun, but my problem with puns is that they often point to themselves—"see how clever I am?"—in such a way that they pull you out of a story, or an essay. There's a self-satisfaction about puns that makes them extremely difficult to use in most situations. Never mind the fact that most people who employ puns simply aren't as clever as they think they are. Growing up in Maine, I lost count of how many businesses called themselves Maine-ly Hair or Maine-ly Nails. It's not even funny the first time, but when you see the same thing everywhere, it becomes the worst kind of cliche.
My instinct with puns is almost always to not use them. I have saved Slog from a half-dozen of Goldy's puns in the past,* but maybe that was wrong of me? Maybe a new era of puns has begun?
* Send your thanks in the form of unmarked bills to me, c/o The Stranger/1535 11th Ave/Third Floor/Seattle, WA/98122.