Thursday, May 13, 2010

Buffalo bufflo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

The title of this post is a grammatically valid sentence in the English language. Seriously.

As the above chart indicates, the word "buffalo" is simultaneously a noun (the animal), a proper noun (the place), and a verb (to bully). The sentence roughly translates (ha!) to "Buffalo from Buffalo who are bullied by buffalo from Buffalo in turn buffalo other buffalo from Buffalo." That's a lot of buffalo.

According to Wikipedia the sentence was first used by William J. Rapaport in 1972 to demonstrate the potentially confusing nature of homonyms and homophones. I think it makes it pretty clear that English is a cruel and complex beast of a language. My condolences to every ESL student ever.

Thanks to Hayden for the heads up.

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