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What’s a paraprosdokian? Does anyone know? Does anyone care?

I learned a new word today, thanks to my son-in-law that lives and works in Plano, Texas and consistently maintains that he is heavily overburdened with work in his position in a prodigious law firm, yet manages to find time to send important material to various relatives, friends, clients and other barristers. The word was paraprosdokian. At first I suspected that someone was trying to spell Kim Kardashian, the girl on that reality show with her sisters and their parents—the whole famn damily—and also everyone’s boyfriends.

Paraprosdokian is defined by Wikipedia as follows:

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax. For this reason, it is extremely popular among comedians and satirists.

Before I checked it out at Wikipedia I spelled it out phonetically and pronounced it as pair uh pros dookian, and I immediately formed a mental image of two professionals—pros—relieving themselves in some bushes that lined the Ninth Hole, the one most distant from clubhouse facilities. Later I realized that the do in dokian is pronounced doe rather that do, and that does make a big difference.

Below are some paraprosdokianisms for you to peruse and digest, and if you like, regurgitate them in e-mails for the pleasure of others. I added the last one on the list. You might want to add one of your own and keep the list growing as it goes around the Internet.

Paraprosdokianisms:

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
If I agreed with you, we would both be wrong.
We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
War does not determine who is right — only who is left.
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Evening news stations are places where they begin with Good evening and then tell you why it isn’t.
To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.
A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. My desk is a work station.
Dolphins are so intelligent that in just a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.
I thought I wanted a career, and it turned out that I just wanted a paycheck.
A bank is a place that will lend you money, if you can prove that you don’t need it.
Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says In an emergency notify, I put DOCTOR.
I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
Why do people believe there are four billion stars, but check when a sign says the paint is wet?
Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?
A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
You do not need a parachute to sky dive. You only need a parachute if you want to sky dive twice.
The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas.
Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back.
A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you’ll look forward to the trip.
Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
I’ve discovered that I scream the same way whether I’m about to be devoured by a great white shark or a piece of seaweed touches my foot.
I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not sure.
I always take life with a grain of salt—plus a slice of lemon and a shot of tequila.
To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and then call whatever you hit the target.
Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as it does when you are in it.
Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
I feel more like I do now than I did when I got up this morning.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

POSTSCRIPT: Not necessarily a paraprosdokian joke, but it is a joke:

Why did the chicken cross the road?
To get to the other side.

Why did the pervert cross the road?
He was stuck to the chicken.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it (the story, not the chicken).

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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UTSA’s 1992 search for a provost . . .

I submitted this letter to the San Antonio Light almost 19 years ago, but I don’t remember whether it was published. If I were inclined to guess, my guess would be that it was published—and if not, I can say in all modesty that it should have been.

First, a brief one paragraph history of the SAN ANTONIO LIGHT, a daily newspaper that flourished for more than 100 years in San Antonio, Texas, but is now defunct:

The San Antonio Light, a daily afternoon and Sunday morning newspaper in San Antonio, Texas began as the San Antonio Surprise in 1881. The paper subsequently morphed through a series of titles including the Evening Light, the Daily Light, the Light and Gazette, and finally settled on the San Antonio Light title in 1911. The Light was published continuously until late 1992 and was then closed, shortly after its purchase by the Hearst Corporation.

This is the letter I submitted to the Light, a submission prompted by the search  by UTSA (University of Texas at San Antonio) to fill the position of provost at the university:

Letter to the editor, San Antonio Light

May 22, 1992

PO Box 161

To UTSA President Kirkpatrick:

In its search for the person best qualified to fill the number two position of provost at UTSA, your 13-member committee narrowed the field of applicants to one Anglo and one Hispanic. You selected the Anglo, and immediately protests poured in from various Hispanic student and faculty groups, political and community organizations and individual Hispanics, all charging bias and insensitivity and some calling for your resignation.

The Anglo declined the job offer, saying he would stay in Toledo “because we truly believe in the future of this community and this university.” Following his declination, you said the committee would continue seeking someone for the post.

Why?

You have a qualified person who wants the job, and was considered by the committee to be in the top one percent in a field of 200 applicants. He was the second best applicant in a listing of qualified applicants, the runner-up (so to speak) to the Anglo who was offered the job.

Why should the search be continued?

Let’s use the analogy of the annual competition for the Miss America title. The choices are narrowed to two people—one is crowned  and the other is named first runner-up for the title. If for any reason Miss America is later disqualified or is unable to perform her duties, the committee does not “continue seeking someone for the post.” The title and the crown go to the first runner-up.

While the competition for provost was no beauty contest, there were two clear winners. Scott McNall was selected to fill the position of provost at UTSA but has indicated that he is not available to perform the duties. Albert Ramirez was considered to be the first “runner-up,” and he is available and willing to perform the duties.

He should be given the job. Any other action tends to confirm theHispanic community’s perceptions of bias and insensitivity.

Postscript:

I don’t remember who was ultimately selected for the job. I would like to believe the Hispanic applicant was selected and if so, I would like to believe that my letter contributed to his selection.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
 

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