Discovered at lunch one day:

"Buildings people build stand" is a proper English sentence - those buildings which are built by people stand. Similarly, "Cats cats fight fight" is as well - cats which are fought by cats also fight. (Importantly, so is "cats cats fight fight cats" : those cats which are fought by cats fight cats). So is "cats cats cats fight fight fight." (Those cats fight which are fought by those cats which are fought by cats.)

On a similar vein, "Buffalo" being both a verb and a noun, as a facebook group recently pointed out, "Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo" is also a proper sentence.

You can do this with any word which is a noun, that noun's plural, and a verb taking a direct object : buffalo buffalo, fish fish fish fish, and people people people people people people (you can people something by putting people on it.) This works for any number of words in the sentence (even? cats cats fight fight. odd? cats cats fight fight cats). And you can mix and match.

So the sentence "Buffalo buffalo fish fish people buffalo buffalo fish" is a valid English sentence.

How many ways might you interpret that sentence?

A less pure but amusing(?) example can also be made with "commandeer" and "common deer". (Common deer common deer comandeer comandeer common deer).

Amusingly, the American buffalo's scientific name is Bison bison, turning "Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo" into "Bison bison Bison bison buffalo buffalo Bison bison."

There is also a subspecies of American buffalo, the plains buffalo, whose scientific name is Bison bison bison, making "Bison bison bison Bison bison bison buffalo buffalo Bison bison" legitimate, according to the same reading as above.

Well I interpret this wiki node as a lot less original than it thinks it is.

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Last edited August 31, 2011 23:49 (diff)