Linguistic humor, Wodehouse

The master also abounds in specimens of freakish syntax (follow the link and search for "Wodehouse").

Pronoun reference, ambiguous

"Where's my umbrella?" demanded the pink one. "The cloak-room waiter says you took my umbrella. I mean, a joke's a joke, but that was a dashed good umbrella."

"It was, indeed," Psmith agreed cordially. "It may be of interest to you to know that I selected it as the only possible one from among a number of competitors. I fear this club is becoming very mixed, Comrade Walderwick. You with your pure mind would hardly believe the rottenness of some of the umbrellas I inspected in the cloak-room."

"Where is it?"

"The cloak-room? You turn to the left as you go in at the main entrance and ..."

"My umbrella, dash it! Where's my umbrella?"

(P.G. Wodehouse. 1923. Leave it to Psmith. A.L. Burt. 73.)

I clicked the tongue.

"My new man. At nine tomorrow morning he will bring me tea."

"Well, you'll like that."

"He will bring it to this room. He will approach the bed. He will place it on the table."

"What on earth for?"

"To facilitate my getting at the cup and sipping."

"Oh, you mean he will put the tea on the table. You said he would put the bed on the table."

"I never said anything of the sort."

"You did. Distinctly."

(P.G. Wodehouse. 1934. Thank you, Jeeves. Harper & Row. 63.)

We went out together, and I saw her off and returned to where Jeeves kept his vigil in the car, all smiles. I was all smiles, I mean, not Jeeves.

(P.G. Wodehouse. 1960. Jeeves in the offing. Barrie & Jenkins. 124.)

She said it sounded as if Jeeves must be something like her father---she had never met him---Jeeves, I mean, not her father, whom of course she had met frequently.

(P.G. Wodehouse. 1963. Stiff upper lip, Jeeves. Herbert Jenkins. 18.)

Presuppositions, problematic

"I think you're terribly conceited."

"Not at all," said Psmith. "Conceited? No, no. Success has not spoiled me."

"Have you had any success?"

"None whatever." The car stopped. "We get down here," said Psmith, opening the door.

(P.G. Wodehouse. 1923. Leave it to Psmith. A.L. Burt. 158.)

"Then I'll be going," said Ukridge, moodily. "I suppose," he added, pausing at the door, "you couldn't lend me five bob?"

"How did you guess?"

(P.G. Wodehouse. 1924. Ukridge. Barrie & Jenkins. 31.)


"I believe she thinks me a mere butterfly," said Freddie, who had not been listening to this most valuable homily.

Psmith slid down from the wall and stretched himself.

"Why," he said, "are butterflies so often described as 'mere'? I have heard them so called a hundred times, and I cannot understand the reason."

(P.G. Wodehouse. 1923. Leave it to Psmith. A.L. Burt. 154.)

Stinker ... was in private life a gentle soul with whom a child could have played. In fact, I once saw a child doing so.

(P.G. Wodehouse. 1963. Stiff upper lip, Jeeves. Herbert Jenkins. 25.)