Posted by: beagle4 | April 28, 2011

Dreams are actually punny?

Our minds and dreams are quite complex. You may sometimes wake up in the morning and think to yourself, “Wow! How did I even come up with the events that happened in that dream?” Your mind is a lot smarter than you usually give yourself credit for. According to Robert Van De Castle, the same guy who outlined a system of coding rules which I described in an earlier post, puns are prevalent and can be identified and interpreted in many dreams. In an article titled, “Listening for Puns in Your Dreams,” Van De Castle explains that dreams like to often match words that have similar sounds and assign them similar meanings. A pun is simply any form of word play which suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar sounding words. One example of a pun found in a dream is dreaming about the sun. In actuality, the dream might be trying to say something about your son.

One of the few arguments that occurs within the subject of dreams, is if there is an international language of dreams (i.e. do dreams have the same meaning in all languages?). In a previous post, I explained how some scientists believe that dreams are universal (both across ethnicity and race, and even throughout history). However, it is often argued that it is impossible to have an international language of dreams. With the ability to identify puns present in our dreams, it becomes clear why some people believe this. The pun of dreaming about the sun to actually represent a son only works in the English language. The pun does not work in the Spanish language; the Spanish word for sun is sol (which oddly enough could actually be another pun for the sol (the currency used in Peru)). Although both languages use puns in dreams, they have different meanings and interpretations for the same dream in Spanish or in English. Are our dreams then really considered universal if it is possible for the dream to have different meanings based off the language you know? In my opinion, the interpretation of specific symbols within dreams may not be universal, however, the types of dreams that occur and content present appear to be.

Another example of puns found in dreams is if you dream about holding coins in your hands. The common dream interpretation from a dream dictionary would be that the coins are a symbol for money. Dreaming about holding coins may suggest that you are concerned with monetary issues. However, another way to interpret this event could be to consider the coins to be a pun. If the coins contained no pennies, then your dream could be expressing that things haven’t made much sense (i.e. no cents) lately. With the use of puns, there are usually a variety of ways the dream could be interpreted. A group or collection of coins is usually referred to as change. This could represent your desire to change. If the coins were in someone else’s hands, this would represent your desire for someone to show change in their life. The puns in dreams can even be more complex or enriched. If the coins in your hands were contained within a piece of paper, this would be considered a roll of change (typically if you receive or bring coins to the bank it is placed within a roll. This is most commonly used for having a roll of quarters used for laundry.) Well, a roll of coins could represent wanting to change a role in your life. This could possibly be deciding to follow a new career path or taking more responsibility in a new role. Maybe we should ask Randy Olson if he every dreamed about a roll of change. (Randy Olson is the author of the book, “Don’t Be Such A Scientist”, that we read for communicating science class. After spending years as a scientist and professor, he does a complete 180 and decides to go to film school.)

Before reading the article, I never thought that dreams had the ability to use puns in such a clever way. It’s amazing how smart the human brain really is. On the other hand, I feel that interpreting everything present within a dream as a pun is kind of of stretch. Are we over-interpreting something, just to potentially provide an explanation or possible meaning to the events that occur in dreams? This is one of the key reasons why I dislike reading Shakespeare so much. I agree that some of his writing probably was intentionally and was suppose to have hidden meaning such as metaphors. Although much of the analysis that you learn in high school after reading a Shakespeare play, seems to me to be over-interpreting and potentially giving him credit for a metaphor that wasn’t actually originally intended by Shakespeare. Alright no more ranting about my dislike of Shakespeare….

So, in the future try to keep an eye out for puns present within dreams. They may provide an alternative meaning/way of interpreting a dream that you never would have thought of initially.

Now just close your eyes and dream…



  1. That is REALLY interesting. I never would have considered it. Now I hope to remember a dream so I can see if there is a pun…

  2. hi the change in the hand was a good example, I had 2 of those.

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