Thursday, April 7, 2011

What's With 'Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo.'

"A History of the Sentence 'Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.' "
William J. Rapaport, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Department of Philosophy, Department of Linguistics, and Center for Cognitive Science, State University of New York at Buffalo, (May 4, 2008)

"In 1972, I was a graduate student in the Department of Philosophy at Indiana University. One of my professors, John Tienson (now [2006] at the University of Memphis), in a course on Philosophy of Language, gave the following example of a grammatical sentence: Dogs dogs dog dog dogs....

"...Several of us students found the plural "-s" endings to lack a certain aesthetic simplicity, and we searched for a better word. I came up with

"Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.

"I.e., buffalo who are buffaloed by other buffalo themselves buffalo still other buffalo.

"However, my fellow graduate students and I were not satisfied. So I concocted:

"Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

"The syntax of the following sentence is close to the previous one:

"Boston mice [that] Boston cats 'Boston-chase' 'Boston-eat' Boston cheese...."

The page starts with a link to ""Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo", Wikipedia (accessed May 4, 2008). For OCD folks, that's eight buffalo - or three Buffalo and five buffalo.

And the Lemming's pretty sure you've heard the one about the fellow who's CDO - OCD with the letters in alphabetical order, the way they're supposed to be.

That's it for today. And the Lemming still hasn't gotten around to that water-powered spaceship.

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