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Try likewise not to be distracted: for the polysemaniac, prurient puns never lose their gloss, their incapacitating distractiveness.
The middlingly sensitive man will after a time stop noticing the notional ambiguity; the polysemaniac will be pulled up short every time and have to grit his teeth and wait for the distraction to fade.
The history of linguistic taboo even reveals a mild kind of mass polysemania: the discontinuation of ādl, ` illness, 'in Old English (to be replaced by the euphemism disease) through a clash with adela, ` dirt,' was not the work of some individual polysemaniac; similarly, the 20th-century decline, noted by Bloomfield, in the use of cock in American English to refer to a male chicken points to a nationwide awareness of and embarrassment at the awkward dual meaning of the word.
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