“War does not determine who is right … only who is left.” This brainteaser is credited to Bertrand Russell, the 20th century British philosopher and mathematician. “If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.” This conundrum is attributed to Sir Winston Churchill, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who was apparently a big fan of the paraprosdokian.
What is a Paraprosdokian?
It is a figure of speech in which the second part of a sentence, phrase, or larger dialogue is unexpected or unanticipated. It causes the reader or listener to reinterpret the first part, trying to understand the meaning and connotation. I am sure many of us have not heard this word before. It takes the listener or reader aback because they need to juggle with the whole sentence for understanding the gist. Paraprosdokians are frequently used for making a funny and dramatic effect, often they produce an anticlimax. Therefore, they are extremely popular among comedians and satirists. Some paraprosdokians not only change the meaning of an early phrase, but they also give double meaning of a word or a phrase. They create a form of syllepsis. And what is syllepsis? It is a single word that rules or amends two or more parts of a sentence which must be understood differently in respect of the words used in the sentence. Take this one from Albert Einstein: the difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.
Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx was an American comedian, writer, stage, film, radio, and television star. He was known as a master of quick wit and is widely considered one of America’s greatest comedians. He was so quick with his wit that people would roll on floor laughing. He4 was famous for using paraprodoskians every now and then. Some of his paraprodoskians are: “She got her good looks from her father; he’s a plastic surgeon”. “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book”. “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it”.
It is said that the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was an absolute master of paraprodokians. An example of a Chuchillian paraprosdokian is “There but for the grace of God – goes God.” Sir Winiston also once famously remarked: “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing – after they have tried everything else.” He reportedly described his political rival, Clement Attllee, as “a modest man, who has much to be modest about.” His sense of humour and wittiness was commendable.
Concerning democracy, Winston Churchill made this well-known declaration: “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried.” He had some advice too: “If you are going through hell, keep going.” It is so true and makes common sense. What happens in democracy – a majority passes laws against the interests of minorities; this fact often makes them vicious. The constitutional government has all powers and it gets four to five years in which works to prove its righteousness, all decisions are short-sighted, therefore, democracy doesn’t make great sense. The rule of law, an independent judiciary and the liberty of the citizen regardless of their opinions are crucial. Democracy was and is going through difficult time.
This paraprosdokian comes from Einstein: The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education. And this one comes from Abraham Lincoln: In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. Mae West was an American actress, singer and playwright, this one is from her: Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.
One needs to love words and needs to be witty to understand paraprodoskians. A person who loves words is called Lexophile. I love this one: A dentist and a manicurist fought tooth and nail. It is not famous as other forms of figure of speech. It lacks popularity among the literature fans. I love this one: “To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism, but to steal from many is research”.