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What Happens When You Twist Language

This Sounds Like the Beginning of a Joke

One of my favorite children’s book series is Amelia Bedelia. It involves a housekeeper named Amelia Bedelia who works for the Rogers family. She is always getting things wrong, even though Amelia does what she is told to do. The result is never what the Rogers family wants, yet if you look at what Amelia did it is exactly what Mrs. Rogers said. When Mrs. Rogers asks Amelia to draw the drapes, she is asking Amelia to close the drapes. Amelia proceeds to draw a picture of the drapes, which is exactly what she is told to do. The words are correct yet the language gets twisted.


The twist of words makes the story comical. It also shows how our language can be used for more than communicating one person to another. According to Webster’s First American Dictionary, language is defined as; “human speech; the use of words or sounds to articulate the thoughts of one person to another.”

Our language is one of our most used tools to convey a message. We are also able to maneuver the language for amusement to create jokes. It’s an ingenious and harmless way of interaction.  Words spoken with a funny anecdote produce laughter.


There are three parts to a joke; the setup, the punch line, and the tag (adding more punch lines using the same setup). What makes the antic humorous is throwing the listener off guard by relating the setup to something ridiculous. Jokes are a clever way to use our language to give an unexpected message. It’s the change in direction that makes a joke funny.

For Example:

Joke #1 Two guys walk into a bar. You would think the second one would’ve seen it.

Joke #2 Husband/Wife

One night while in bed the husband wakes the wife and says, ‘I can’t sleep.’ The wife responds back, ‘Sure you can; I’ve seen you do it.’

Twisted Language

The listener is thinking the information is heading in a certain direction, yet twisting the language brings a surprise the listener wasn’t expecting. That’s what makes jokes funny.

Language is how we communicate to convey a message. It is also capable of being twisted in a way that produces a joke. Who thought words could be fun.

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