I am not a native English speaker. Yet, I make up "punish" proverbs while sleeping. Here is one: "Who exists exits." Don't hesitate, tell me the truth.

Application for reopening; Edited

(I had edited this post before I became a member. My edits disappeared at that very moment. So I write up again what I wanted to tell the community about the broader context of my Question.

The origin of my interest in punning/joking/word-playing in different languages originates with the following story. I tried to be funny with an older colleague of mine, a professor of mathematics at Berkeley, when I told him: "Yes, I've read the introduction to that book. I'd need an innertroduction, though." He answered: "Not funny: >>in<< is not the preposition, the preposition is >>intro<<. So, you could have said >>Introer duction to ... , but that would have been even worse. Why, that I don't know."

So, that was the beginning. I've read Bergson's The Laughter (or whatever the English title is) and other philosophers' treatises on the role of language in humor.

As a non-native English speaker I am very much interested in learning more about the specialties of English, as a foreign language, regarding the possibilities and impossibilities of joking--joking with and joking by the language. My mother tongue is Hungarian, a funny language.

So, please, don't stop discussing this (off-)topic.

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    It's also funny because just the other night, I too, came up with a punish proverb that's almost identical: "Whom eggs it 'tis eggs it." Mar 9 '15 at 13:50
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    Hello zoli: Can you tell us what you mean when you ask if it is correct? Whether or not it's funny or clever (and indeed "punish proverbs" is funny; "Who exists exits" is clever) is an entirely subjective question and not on-topic for our site. Meanwhile, I think we have a sentence and a question about whether it's "correct". I think we should hold off on closing as there's a reasonable chance that it's on-topic. Mar 9 '15 at 15:47
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    The -ing form of pun is punning. Maybe you meant punnish (or just punning). (See also, Suffix spelling rules: double letters) By the way, welcome to ELL! Mar 9 '15 at 16:44
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    @CoolHandLouis: Fair enough. Zoli - I have closevoted as "Unclear what you're asking", because I do not think ELL is a suitable site for running "acceptance tests" on "non-native speaker puns". For the record, I don't think your example works very well. It's modeled on forms such as Who dares wins (motto of the British SAS), but there the meaning is Only those who dare will win, whereas in yours it's more a matter of all those who "exist" (are alive) will eventually "exit" (die), but that's not how we normally use the format. Mar 9 '15 at 17:04
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    I think the single-n "punish" is apt, as many people's puns are so bad as to constitute a type of punishment. By the way, Zoli, we call these "groaners." find a list of riddles for kids; they're often bad puns. Why won't you starve at the beach? Because of the sand which is there! Mar 10 '15 at 4:30

I think I'd more categorize this as wordplay, more so than a pun.

As a matter of fact, when I first read your question, I misread your question. I thought it said,

Who exists exists

and I was going to recommend you add a pronoun and a comma:

He who exists, exists

which reminded me of the more famous:

I think, therefore I am

which is one of the oldest existentialist maxims around.

But my eyes were playing tricks on me!

"Who exists exits."

So now I'm wondering, was the similarity in the two words deliberate? And, if so, were they meant to be visually similar, or phonetically similar?

Wikipedia lists several kinds of wordplay. Rearranging the letters of a word produces an anagram, so words like exits and exist are anagrams.

As for:

Who exists exits

that leads me to think you're reminding us that we're all mortal, and it reminds me of a pun of my own:

Whoever wants grandma's ashes after she's cremated is going to have to urn them.

If that "life is short" interpretation is what you had in mind, then it's understandable; if not, then either it's confusing or I'm a little slow – and either of those are plausible explanations.

  • Do you mean, "He who exists, exits."? Mar 9 '15 at 13:28
  • @CoolHandLouis - Nice catch. I've revised my answer.
    – J.R.
    Mar 9 '15 at 14:54
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    Regarding your question whether the passage is intended to mean "we're all mortal": What's the author got to do with the meaning of a passage she wrote? ;) Mar 9 '15 at 15:11

I think it's a perfect tiny gem.

"Who exists exits."

It's an existential statement that whoever exists, exits (dies). It could also be a play on existentialism in general, and Sartre's "No Exit":

  • Jean-Paul Sartre and Buddha were having a discussion about their philosophies. Sartre said, "Look, Buddha. I can sum up my entire philosophy in one sentence!"

    Buddha replied, "You like to think you can do that?"

    Taking Buddha's words as a challenge, Sartre smirked, "I exist and there's No Exit." Then he continued, "It doesn't get any simpler than that!"

    Buddha said, "The truth is more simple."

    "Really! How could it?" Sartre asked incredulously.

    Buddha said, "Who exists exits."

  • Thank you very much. It was just a test. I was curious to see if somebody recognises me. (Buddy)
    – zoli
    Mar 9 '15 at 16:57
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    Sorry but I cannot. Give me a hint sometime in the future. This Answer will get closed. (But I had fun with it!) Mar 9 '15 at 17:15
  • For me, like J.R., I think it requires: He who exists, exits. "Who exists, exits" doesn't make any sense to me.
    – Jim
    Mar 9 '15 at 17:15
  • @CoolHandLouis: Buddy is nick for Buddha. So, was not funny enough.
    – zoli
    Mar 9 '15 at 18:30
  • Oh. My. God..... Now I understand....... that was...... good. Mar 9 '15 at 18:50

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