Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo
"Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" is a sentence that uses correct grammar. It is often used as an example of how homonyms (words that are spelled the same) and homophones (words that sound the same) can be used to create complicated constructs. The sentence means "The bison from Buffalo confuse other bison from Buffalo who confuse the bison from Buffalo."
It has been talked about since 1967, when the sentence was used by Dmitri Borgmann in his book Beyond Language. Later, in 1972, the sentence was used by William J. Rapaport. Rapaport is a professor at the University at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York.
- adjective: the city of Buffalo, New York.
- noun: the animal called buffalo in the plural form. They are also known as bison.
- verb: the word "buffalo", which means to confuse or intimidate (to scare somebody).
It can be broken down to "Buffaloa buffalon Buffaloa buffalon buffalov buffalov Buffaloa buffalon", where "a" is adjective, "n" is noun, and "v" is verb.
Other words can be used to make sentences like this one. These include police, fish, and people. For example, "Fish fish fish fish fish". Other times, similar words that are spelled differently can be used: "Foul fowl foul fowl foul foul foul fowl".
Why it is confusing to read[change | change source]
The sentence is very confusing because:
- Most people do not use the word "buffalo" as a verb.
- The plural form of the noun "buffalo" can be "buffaloes" or "buffalo". In this sentence, the second form is used, which is spelled the same way as the verb.
- There is no punctuation.
- The only distinction between uppercase and lowercase letters is the use of capital B whenever Buffalo is used as an adjective. Lowercase b is used as both a verb and a noun.
References[change | change source]
- Borgmann, Dmitri A. (1967). Beyond Language: Adventures in Word and Thought. New York, NY, USA: Charles Scribner's Sons. .
- Rapaport, William J. (October 5, 2012). "A History of the Sentence 'Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.'". http://www.cse.buffalo.edu/~rapaport/buffalobuffalo.html. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- Rapaport, William J. 19 February 1992. "Message 1: Re: 3.154 Parsing Challenges". linguistlist.org. Retrieved on 14 September 2006.
- Andrew Swerlick (2008). "What a Herd of Confused Bison from Upstate New York Can Teach Us About Our Language". The Emory Wheel. http://www.emorywheel.com/detail.php?n=24992. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
- Rapaport, William J (February 19, 1992). "Message 1: Re: 3.154 Parsing Challenges". linguistlist.org. http://www.linguistlist.org/issues/3/3-175.html#1. Retrieved 2009-03-30.