English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

It has long been known that birds will occasionally build nests in the manes of horses. The only known solution to this problem is to sprinkle baker's yeast in the mane, for, as we all know, yeast is yeast and nest is nest, and never the mane shall tweet.

What is the meaning of the above quote? I am confused by the phrases manes of horses and never the mane shall tweet. An online dictionary says that manes is the plural form, but its singular form, mane, has an entirely different meaning.

share|improve this question
up vote 2 down vote accepted

This is joke. It is an example of a spoonerism in which the beginnings of words have been changed or swapped. The normal English saying:

East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.

has been humorously rearranged to be the punchline of a joke.

share|improve this answer
Including the phrase w/o the spoonerism involved, in the answer would improve its quality, IMO. – KeyBrd Basher Mar 14 '13 at 7:56
There used to be a large number of stories published in monthly magazines that were actually just elaborate setups for groan-inducing punchlines like "Sloan's teddy wins the race" or "What was that laser I sawed you with last night? ... That was no laser, that was my knife" and so on. – David Schwartz Mar 14 '13 at 9:26
@KeyBrdBasher- I don't understand. – Jim Mar 15 '13 at 0:53
@DavidSchwartz- What's the difference between a group of very clever pygmies and the girls track team? The pygmies are a bunch of cunning runts. – Jim Mar 15 '13 at 0:55
@Jim: What's the difference between a rooster and a shyster? A rooster clucks defiance. – David Schwartz Apr 16 '13 at 11:19

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.