Tom Swifty

Tom Swifty might be considered the 20th-century development of the form of folklore called wellerism. Wellerisms, named for Charles Dickens’s character Samuel Weller, are normally made up of three parts: (1) a statement, (2) a speaker who makes this remark, and (3) a phrase that places the utterance into an unexpected, contrived situation (“Everyone to his own taste,” as the farmer said when he kissed the cow). What is typical for Tom Swifty? It is a wellerism conventionally based on the punning relationship between the way an adverb describes a speaker and simultaneously refers to the meaning of the speaker’s statement. The speaker is traditionally Tom, his statement is usually placed at the beginning of the Tom Swifty, and the adverb at the end of ...

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