triple entendres, dirty jokes, and publications

In Cover’s early paper on “Broadcast Channels,” (IEEE Trans. Info Theory, vol 18, no 1, 1972), he writes:

The primary heuristic that we garner from these investigations is that high joint rates of transmission are best achieved by superimposing high-rate and low-rate information rather than by using time-sharing. Novels written with many levels of symbolism provide just one example of a mode of communication that may be perceived at many different
levels by different people.1

1I am soliciting double- and triple-meaning quotes that illustrate this idea. Consider, for example, the reaction of three different people to the following donated story. Buck and Harry led a beautiful maiden into the clearing by a rope tied around her ankle. “Let’s make her fast,” said Buck, “while we have breakfast.” The anonymity of the authors will be protected.

So the meanings I can come up with are (a) “let’s prevent her from eating while we have breakfast,” (b) “let’s bind her tightly while we have breakfast,” and (c) a meaning using a sexual interpretation of “make.” There’s something a bit disquieting about a dirty joke in a journal, especially one with overtones of rape. Nevertheless, I read it as an an interesting example of the ambiguity of language, even though it reifies the old-boy’s club-ness of the field…


3 thoughts on “triple entendres, dirty jokes, and publications

  1. I think “Let’s make her fast,” **does not satisfy** said Buck” should read “Let’s make her fast,” said Buck”. I do not understand what does not satisfy Buck?

  2. It’s an old post, but the quote itself was much older, so perhaps it’s OK to add a remark. A maiden is a horse that hasn’t won a race yet. This will add another layer of ambiguity.

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