Poll-ish Humor

Below are examples of chiasmi, which are expressions in which the order of words are reversed for dramatic/literary effect in two otherwise parallel phrases. (Perhaps the most famous chiasmus is Kennedy's "Ask not ..." line. Another is his father's "When the going gets tough ..." )

The examples below are all taken from Mardy Grothe's excellent book "Don't Let a Fool Kiss You Or a Kiss Fool You."

Profound Chiasmi:

A: "We are not put on this earth primarily to see through one another, but to see one another through." -- Peter De Vries

B: "Defeat the fear of death and welcome the death of fear." -- G. Gordon Liddy

C: "It is the dull man who is always sure, and the sure man who is always dull." -- Mencken

D: "Failure is the foundation of success, success the lurking place of failure." -- Lao Tzu

Which of these is best?
A
B
C
D

Relationship Chiasmi:

A: "It's not the men in my life, it's the life in my men." -- Mae West

B: Marriage is the price men pay for sex. Sex is the price women pay for marriage." -- Anonymous

C: "Women eat while they are talking. Men talk while they are eating." -- Malcolm de Chazal

D: "The desire of the man is for the woman. But the desire of the woman is for the desire of the man." -- Germaine de Stael

Which of these is best?
A
B
C
D

Biting Chiasmi:

A: "Your manuscript is both good and original. But the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good." -- Dr. Samuel Johnson, to an aspiring writer.

B: "A scout troupe consists of twelve little kids dressed like schmucks following a big schmuck dressed like a kid." -- Jack Benny

C: "We used to have actresses trying to be stars. Now we have stars trying to be actresses." -- Laurence Olivier

D: "Well, the odds are good, but the goods are odd." -- Anonymous male student, about the chance of finding romance at a formerly all-woman's school.

Which of these is best?
A
B
C
D

Miscellaneous Chiasmi:

A: "Some agencies have a public affairs office. NASA is a public affairs office that has an agency." -- John Pike, after the Challenger disaster.

B: "Boy meets girl. Girl gets boy into pickle. Boy gets pickle into girl." -- Jack Woodford, describing typical Hollywood movie.

C: "I can write better than anyone who can write faster, and I can write faster than anyone who can write better." -- A.J. Liebling

D: "Many a man owes his success to his first wife, and his second wife to his success." -- Jim Backus.

Which of these is best?
A
B
C
D

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Note: This is an unscientific survey of washingtonpost.com readers.