Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stupid grammatically correct sentence

Have you read or heard this sentence?:

"Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo"

There are 8 buffalo words repeated in one sentence. And yet it is still grammatically correct sentence. An example is the proverb "Don't trouble trouble until trouble troubles you". This kind of words particularly the buffalo sentence has been discussed in literature since 1972 when the sentence was used by William J. Rapaport, currently an associate professor at the University at Buffalo.
The sentence can be breaking down into 3 types of buffalo:
1. The place called Buffalo (city of Buffalo, New York) as an adjective (A).
2. The animal American bison commonly called a "buffalo" as a noun (N).
3. The word buffalo as a verb meaning to bully, confuse, deceive, or intimidate (V).
So here are there:

Buffalo(A) buffalo(N) Buffalo(A) buffalo(N) buffalo(V) buffalo(V) Buffalo(A) buffalo(N)

And so the sentence means:
"Bison from Buffalo, New York who are intimidated by other bison in their community also happen to intimidate other bison in their community."

Confuse? Don't be. Lets say we change all instances of the animal buffalo with "people" and the verb buffalo with "intimidate". The sentence then reads:

"Buffalo people [whom] Buffalo people intimidate [also happen to] intimidate Buffalo people."

Or substituting the synonym "bison" for "buffalo" (animal), "bully" for "buffalo" (verb) and leaving "Buffalo" to mean the city, it reads:

"Buffalo bison whom other Buffalo bison bully themselves bully Buffalo bison".

I'm gonna stop here :)

*originally from Wikipedia