ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Failure to Communicate - Humorous Use of Words With Multiple Meanings

Updated on May 19, 2011

Many English Words Have Double Meanings

One of the confusing things about the English language is the fact that the same word can have more than one meaning.

Sometimes both the pronunciation and spelling are the same as with the word cold – if I have a cold it means I am sick with a virus, while if I am cold it means the temperature is uncomfortably low.

With other words the spelling is different but the pronunciation is the same. If I have the flu it means I am sick with a more serious virus, while if I say that “I flew to Europe” it means that I made the trip by airplane.

However, what does a casual listener interpret when I mention “the bird flu / flew ... “? In the first instance I am referring to a virus that develops in and is then spread to humans via birds. While in the second instance I am referring to a bird doing what it does naturally and that is flying.

Read below to see what happens to a slow witted delivery driver named Joe when he walks into a doctor's office and repeatedly answers a question with the same word that has two meanings.

Graphic with text of shingles joke
Graphic with text of shingles joke | Source

One Can Respond to Words Literally Without Being Slow Witted

While the the double meaning of the word shingles makes for a good laugh in the joke above, using a slightly longer sentence generally puts the word with more than one meaning in context thereby clarifying what is meant.

Despite this, there are situations where one can deliberately use a word with more than one meaning to mislead another and gain a advantage.  

An Episode From the Old TV Series "Hogan's Heroes"

A good example of this was an episode of the old CBS TV series Hogan's Heroes which ran from 1965 to 1971. This particular episode, which was titled Top Hat, White Tie and Bomb Sight and first aired in November 1965 involved the name Norden which referred to both a military insturment - the Norden Bombsight - and a consumer  product - the Norden Vacuum Cleaner.

The series was set in a World War II Nazi prisoner of war camp in which American and other Allied POWs were being held. In the series American Army Air Corps Colonel Hogan (played by actor Robert Crane) and his fellow POWs were pitted against the imbecilic German Colonel Klink (played by Werner Klemperer) and the stupid, but somewhat lovable, Sargent Schultz (played by John Banner).

The Norden Bobmsight was originally designed prior to World War II for use by U.S. Navy aircraft. The designer was Carl Norden, a Dutch engineer who had immigrated to the U.S. and worked for the Sperry Corporation he first began work on the bombsight and later as the owner of the Norden.

The Norden Bombsight enabled aircraft to target their bombs more accurately and was used by the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and by its successor, the U.S. Air Force in the subsequent Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

In the episode Hogan and his team dupe Klink into helping Hogan make contact with an Allied spy in the town near the POW camp.

They do this by making Colonel Klink think that Hogan has working knowledge of the design and operation of the Norden Bombsight (actually the plans for the Norden Bombsight had been obtained by the Nazis in 1938 before World War II from a German spy who worked in the American factory that manufactured the Norden Bombsight).

Colonel Klink falls for the trick and takes Hogan to a restaurant in the nearby town intending to get Colonel Hogan drunk and reveal the information about the bombsight.

Hogan succeeds in his effort to contact the spy and then returns to the POW camp with Colonel Klink where he answers Klink's questions about the Norden by describing the Norden Vacuum Cleaner.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      John Joon 

      11 years ago

      HA, ha, ha....

      What a great joke!

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      11 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Thanks for the comments and glad you enjoyed this as much as I did. I had a good laugh when I first found it in an email my sister forwarded to me. I tweeked it a little and published it here so others could have a good laugh as well.

      Chuck

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      11 years ago

      hah! that just made my day.

    • jimmythejock profile image

      James Paterson 

      11 years ago from Scotland

      lol chuck

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)