WHAT DOG CAN JUMP HIGHER THAN A BUILDING? –
ANY DOG. BUILDINGS CAN’T JUMP.
What’s so funny about this? This riddle works more because of what is not said than what is said. I know that you know the meanings of all the words. So why were you fooled by the question? It’s because it is somewhat ambiguous, or unclear. Some words are omitted at the end which could clear up the situation. If the sentence read, “What dog can jump higher than a building can jump?” then we would immediately know the answer, but, of course, then there would be no riddle. By leaving out those last two words, the sentence draws our minds more to jumping dogs than to jumping buildings.
When you use a comparative form, such as “higher than”, you’re comparing two things that are normally relatively equal. In this case it’s dogs and buildings. But the verb is “jump” and it’s something dogs can do and buildings can’t do. The wording of the question makes it sound as if we’re talking about how high a dog can jump. We know some dogs are great jumpers and can jump quite high. But when we think of buildings, thinks like skyscrapers come to mind and we know that dogs can’t jump that high. So our minds than start thinking about all the dogs we’ve seen and how high they have jumped. We “jump to the conclusion” that no dog can jump higher than a building. Also we know it’s a riddle so we are expecting a silly answer, and that’s just what you got. And THAT’s what’s so funny!
Listen to the podcast: http://audioboo.fm/boos/1463151-leaping-lizzards