Pun vs Double Entendre

Have you ever wondered what difference is between a pun and a double entendre? It's a good question, since both ultimate rely on words having multiple meanings, but not many people know the answer. Luckily for you, I do, and I'm here to share with you just how it is they differ.

A pun, as established is a word that has two meanings. Crucially, the two meanings must both be immediately obvious for the word to be a pun. The double meaning is plain to see and almost always crucial to understanding the sentence.

A double entendre is like unto it. Whereas the pun is obvious, the double entendre is subtle. The double meaning of the double entendre is obscured to the point of being almost invisible.

To illustrate the difference, here is a bad tweet I made several years ago, before I'd learned how to be funny on Twitter.

I made it because I was enamored by what I supposed to be a pun -- the phrase "get into", which could refer to a either a state of being in one's jeans or a state of preference for those jeans. But people rarely speak about "getting into jeans" outside of putting them on. People don't normally share whether or not they jive with their trousers. It wasn't a pun. It was a double entendre.

And that's why it was a bad tweet. Without the double meaning, it reads like a trite anecdote: I tried skinny jeans, they didn't fit, end of story, who cares? The only level of appreciation for that tweet was as a double entendre. Assuming that nobody seeing that sentence gave it more than a passing thought (a reasonable assumption) the second meaning of that sentence was completely lost.

But there's a third wrench one must look out for when juggling multiple meanings: the malapropism. Very few people recognize the double entendre, but everyone's heard a malapropism. In fact, it's so commonplace that it's often what people really mean when they talk about puns. Where a pun is a word that holds two meanings, a malapropism is a word that has been twisted to sound more like another word.

Orange you glad I didn't say banana? The orange is a malapropism.

And now you know.

Getting Things Done and Getting Them Good Enough

This is a short thought on deadlines.

Some people respond well to deadlines. It's what motivates them to do the thing, and it's what keeps them from getting lazy and complacent in their pursuits. 

I am not one of those people. 

I am motivated by the final product. As far as my brain is concerned, it doesn't matter when the product is due so long as it's interesting. If I believe in it, I'll sell my soul for it, day one. Deadlines haven't so much motivated me to work as they have consistently gotten in the way. I've never had an arbitrarily decided deadline that didn't leave me feeling frustrated when I parted with a project. "There's so much I could still do," I've often complained, "So much left before it's even close to being done." And as someone who has had the opportunity to take a small number of projects to that magic "done" point, I don't believe that that's an unattainable goal. There's a difference between done and perfect. Done is when you know you've given it everything you can give. I don't care about perfection. I just want it to be done.

Nevertheless, I still think it's important to have deadlines for when you'll consider something good enough... for now. 

I ran into that with my app Ibsen (then Draugr), back in March. It was clear to me at the time that developing everything I wanted for that app was going to be a herculean affair far beyond any of my existing abilities. But I needed it to be useable quickly so I could finish writing the pilot episode for Elda's Song. I gave myself a timeframe of about two weeks to develop everything I absolutely *needed* to start writing -- which in my mind was autocomplete, RTF export, and Dropbox syncing. I wrote horrible, awful code during those two weeks that, had it ever been publicly released, would have put me to shame. But at the end of those two weeks I had moved all of my scriptwriting to Ibsen and I was absolutely loving it. The product wasn't done by any means, but it was good enough for what I needed then.

I'm running into that again with a number of projects that I'm dedicating myself to now. I'm just not smart enough, talented enough, of caffeinated enough to get it all to where I think it deserves to be. And the clock is ticking for when I won't be able to give those projects anything more.

I said at the beginning this was about deadlines. Really this was about rethinking what role deadlines have in my life. It's not about giving a date for when something will be done. It's about setting a date for when I'll be ready to move onto something else.

Even if that means publishing when I only have 500 words.

Podcast Analytics on Squarespace

It's been a while since I last wrote about podcasting so it's time for some followup. I recently took inventory of my Brotherhood subscriber numbers across both Squarespace and Podtrac and discovered a pleasant, if somewhat overdue, surprised:

Nearly all of the subscribers that Squarespace had been reporting for the past few months are gone. Perhaps I should be sad, but since those numbers were for an RSS feed I've never shared with anyone, I can't help but feel relieved. That's the closest I think I'll be getting to a "Congratulations on correctly diagnosing the system, Dylan! Here's a sticker and some ice cream." Meanwhile, my Podtrac numbers have steadily grown 200% their original size since I began paying attention.

This has prompted me to think a little more deeply about Brotherhood and other potential future podcasts. In some ways, these numbers are reassuring. In others, well, I'm more than a little worried.

Read More

The Perils of Building a Text Editor In Swift

They say the best way to learn is by experience, but sometimes experience is a pretty lousy teacher. It rarely gives you the information you need when you're ready for it, and it hardly cares whether you'll succeed or not. As far as I'm concerned, experience can suck it. That could hardly be more true than when dealing with programming languages.

I'm a Swift programmer and I love it. Swift code is beautiful and clean. The moments when I feel most like an artist are when I'm designing a new algorithm in Swift. It graciously removes nearly all of the ambiguity and mental overhead that comes with traditional C-style languages (good-bye pointers) allowing me to think less about it and more about the way it works.

But there's a problem.

Apple have put a tremendous effort into ensuring that their iOS frameworks play nicely with Swift, for which I am very grateful, but 20+ years of C and Objective-C don't just magically transform over night. Despite all those efforts, Swift is still a second class citizen. I've had to learn this the hard way as I refactor Ibsen Writer and prepare it for release this fall. Ibsen is a text editor (NSTextStorage ahoy!) which relies heavily on Apple's own frameworks to work it's textual magic, and it's in those frameworks where the Objective-C to Swift transition hurts the most and demands the most of our attention.

I don't believe in letting experience teach you everything, so I'm going to teach you something experience won't. If you're building a text editor in Swift, these are the things you need to know – the non-obvious pitfalls that will bring your code to its knees if you aren't careful. These are the things I had to learn by experience because nobody else could teach me. 

You're welcome.

Read More

More Than Zero Followers: Part 3

About a week ago, I signed up for an account on reddit. My goal was to share some of the podcasts I'd been working on, but for reasons I'll get into later that didn't really work out. What I got instead was something far more valuable: a lesson in what it takes to build an audience, and by extension a career, online.

Here's what I've learned:

It's All Been Done Before

Reddit is the epitome of interest specialization. You like languages? That's pretty unique, but it's way too broad for reddit. What is your specific interest in language? The cognitive development of language skills in toddlers? Now we're talking. Whatever your interest, there's probably a subreddit for that, and you'd be amazed how many people are active participants in that space.

Read More

How to Start a Musical Cue

Think back for a moment. When was the last time you had a good laugh – the kind that made you think, “Oh yes, that's where my ribs are,” or the kind for which the word “hysterical”, a word otherwise reserved for victims of extreme emotional trauma, was invented? What was it that made you laugh? What was the joke?

Let's be honest: it probably wasn't that funny, and your friends probably weren't that impressed when you told it to them.

Starting a musical cue is a lot like trying to repeat a side-splitting joke: it almost doesn't matter whether the joke is actually good or not as long as you get the timing right. I speak from experience, both as someone who writes and as someone who appreciates music that is tied to narrative. If you want your musical accompaniment to sound like laugher and joy, and not a play by play description of your night out with the lads, there are only two ways to enter a scene.

Read More

The Art of the Reveal

As a storyteller, nothing feels more exhilarating than dropping an unexpected revelation on your audience that you know they didn't see coming. You can see it on their faces, with their eyes wide and their mouths agape and with Greg in the back suddenly standing up straight for the first time all day. It's what we live for, as both storyteller and listener. If you've never had a chance to drop a reveal in front of a live audience, you're missing out.

But the reveal is a tricky note to play. It's like the high note of the Star-Spangled Banner: nail it and you're a god, miss it and you're just a poseur wanna-be. Nobody wants to feel like a poseur, but the allure of the reveal is so great that even bad writers can't resist it's pull.

I'm going to ignore the fact that this might include me.

But you know who does the reveal absolutely right, every time? J. K. Rowling. I'm not saying this because her books have particularly good reveals (although I personally think they do). I'm saying that because her reveals all rewarded rereading. And if your audience cares enough to reread what you wrote, nothing says “I got you covered” quite like a rewarding second round. If you've ever reread Harry Potter, you'll know exactly what I mean. If you haven't, allow me to fill you in.

Read More