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Buffalo, etc.
September 29, 2006 1:53 PM   Subscribe

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
posted by ChasFile (80 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I saw this a while ago and still can't parse it. But trust someone who knows better says it's grammatically correct.
posted by stbalbach at 1:58 PM on September 29, 2006


stbalbach, try the 4th link. It's got handy subtitutions for parsing help.
posted by mkb at 2:01 PM on September 29, 2006


The Wikipedia article does a good job explaining it. It's analogous to "Many things many people say confuse many people". It can be expanded to something like "Those buffaloes from Buffalo that are intimidated by other buffaloes from Buffalo intimidate yet other buffaloes from Buffalo."
posted by Plutor at 2:01 PM on September 29, 2006


Another example that proves jsut because something is _grammatically_ correct doesn't mean it's a good sentence.

Isn't the point of language to make it easier for us to communicate?
posted by triolus at 2:03 PM on September 29, 2006


I would say that, yes, using a language is easier to communicate than.. er.. not using a language.
posted by Plutor at 2:06 PM on September 29, 2006


For those having trouble parsing the sentence: substitute "Cleveland" for Buffalo and "Intimidate" for buffalo, add a few little helper words and you get:

Cleveland buffalo that Cleveland bufallo intimidate then themselves go and intimidate Cleveland bufallo.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 2:06 PM on September 29, 2006


Sorry, but no cigar. Anything after "Buffalo buffalo buffalo" is only grammatically valid if you somehow stretch the word "buffalo" to be not only a verb and a noun but also an adjective. Your third link up there says it's not, and I agree. This stuff is neat-seeming, but bogus.
posted by koeselitz at 2:08 PM on September 29, 2006


*slaps forehead*Wait! By God, the Buffalo are from Buffalo! That's how it's an adjective!
posted by koeselitz at 2:10 PM on September 29, 2006


Torturers torturers torture torture torturers.
posted by fleetmouse at 2:11 PM on September 29, 2006


Cute. Reminds of something that I saw in, I believe, Reader's Digest some years ago.

Add punctuation to the following to make it legitimate English:

John where James had had had had had had had had had had had the teacher's approval.
posted by jellicle at 2:11 PM on September 29, 2006


If in the phrase "Camenbert cheese" Camenbert operates as an adjective, then why not Buffalo buffalo?
posted by DenOfSizer at 2:12 PM on September 29, 2006


Regrettably, I thought of pokemon when I first saw this linked on someone's blog earlier in the week. I'm not proud.
posted by boo_radley at 2:12 PM on September 29, 2006


Malkovich malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich !!!
posted by blue_beetle at 2:13 PM on September 29, 2006


But some of the people in the links posted seem to be confused about how this works. The word "buffalo" is not an adjective meaning "the quality of being a buffaloer," and therefore "buffalo buffalo" cannot mean "buffalo who buffalo." It's customary to use the gerund in that case.
posted by koeselitz at 2:14 PM on September 29, 2006


My mind was just blown. It makes sense too, which is again mind-blowing.
posted by pnevares at 2:17 PM on September 29, 2006


Bulldogs bulldogs bulldogs fight fight fight.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:17 PM on September 29, 2006


Seeing this kicking around this week, BTW, sparked a "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall"-type memory from childhood, so I thought I'd share both Buffalo and this one, which is ten times simpler but still fun:

Who police? Police police. Who police Police? Police Police police Police. Who police Police Police? Police Police Police police Police Police. Who police Police Police Police? Police Police Police police Police Police Police...
posted by ChasFile at 2:19 PM on September 29, 2006


(gah! lost it at only level 4!)
posted by ChasFile at 2:20 PM on September 29, 2006


:: paging languagehat, paging mister languagehat ::
posted by YoBananaBoy at 2:28 PM on September 29, 2006


The buffalo sentence sounds like it should be a Warren-Dubin show tune from a Busby Berekely musical.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 2:36 PM on September 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


This little tidbit will definitely come in handy at the singles' bars...
posted by BobFrapples at 2:41 PM on September 29, 2006


Funny, Penn Jillette had this very thing on his radio show/podcast last week. I think it was the 9/21 or 9/22 show.
posted by starman at 2:44 PM on September 29, 2006


Thanks, now the words Buffalo and Police have lost all meaning for me.
posted by muddgirl at 2:46 PM on September 29, 2006


I could swear that this is a double double double double double double double double.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 2:56 PM on September 29, 2006


Badger badger badger
posted by kcds at 2:57 PM on September 29, 2006


Which would make this the 256th time it was posted?
posted by ChasFile at 2:58 PM on September 29, 2006


Note that in my experience Syracuse buffalo Syracuse buffalo buffalo do not buffalo Syracuse buffalo.
posted by gubo at 2:58 PM on September 29, 2006


If you break the sentence down logically it comes out as:

In order to break it down into existential logic you would say:

If there is a function b(x,y) = true if x 'buffalo' (intimidate/confuse) y, then:

We call all the buffalo in the city set A and we call all the buffalo who are intimidated by other buffalo from the city as set C. then for all buffalo i and for all the buffalo j in set C b(i,j) = true.

So in other words the first part of the sentence defines the set C as being all the City buffalo intimidated by buffalo from their city (C = {x | x ∈ A ∧ ∀y &isin A b(x,y) = true})

And the second part just says that set C intimidates itself (∀xy ∈ C b(x,y) = true)

I think anyway.

Obviously, that's not a simple thing to grasp, which is why it's hard to parse the sentance.
posted by delmoi at 2:59 PM on September 29, 2006


Buffalo on a motherfucking plain.
posted by dhartung at 3:01 PM on September 29, 2006 [3 favorites]


Buffalo buffalo Buffalo Mark Ruffalo buffaloes mark Mark Ruffalo.
posted by Iridic at 3:02 PM on September 29, 2006


(C = {x | x ∈ A ∧ ∀y &isin A b(x,y) = true})

Oops that should be:

(C = {x | x ∈ A ∧ ∀y ∈ A b(x,y) = true})
posted by delmoi at 3:02 PM on September 29, 2006


I dont think that's quite right, delmoi. If upstate Bison whom are intimidated by upstate Bison = C, then we have C intimidate Bison that upstate Bison intimidate. Which means that the bison whom are intimidated but upstate bison in the secon half of the sentence could be from anywhere. There is no adjective modifying the third non-Proper noun in the sentence.

hmm. Therefore is this ok?:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

That would satisfy your interpretation of C intimidates C, and also add another word to the sentence.
posted by ChasFile at 3:06 PM on September 29, 2006


Les vers verts levèrent le verre vert vers le ver vert.

Or so I hear.

/traumatic memory of high school French

also. (homographs, homophones - same difference.)
posted by Urban Hermit at 3:07 PM on September 29, 2006


Hee.

This sentence is yet another reason why I love English more than is entirely healthy.
posted by sparkletone at 3:11 PM on September 29, 2006


I don't see how you get beyond five Buffaloes: Buffalo who are from Buffalo buffalo other Buffalo from Buffalo. Where do the other ones come in?

...

Isn't "shit" an adjective in British English? Sounds like you could have a pretty productive sentence there, too.
posted by jiawen at 3:22 PM on September 29, 2006


No, I'm wrong. That should be:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

That's C intimidates C, and I think the reason we don't use that is that it makes no sense. :)
posted by ChasFile at 3:24 PM on September 29, 2006


ARGH!

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo.

Is C buffalos C.

I'm done thinking about this.
posted by ChasFile at 3:25 PM on September 29, 2006


Badger badger badger

Actually:

Badgers that badger badger badgers, badger badgers.

- or -

Badgers badger badger badgers badger badgers.

(MUSHROOM MUSHROOM)
posted by Kickstart70 at 3:33 PM on September 29, 2006


You can make this sentence one 'buffalo' longer by seeing the first b. as the animal instead of the city, the second b. as the verb instead of the animal, and imagining 'that' as the fifth word of the sentence instead of the third word, as follows:

Buffalo(ani) buffalo(vb) Buffalo(cty) buffalo(ani) [that] buffalo(vb) buffalo(ani) Buffalo(cty) buffalo(ani) buffalo(vb).

Dropping the optional 'that' it becomes:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo.

Nine words instead of eight.

On preview, is tha t what you're saying in your last posts, Chasfile?
posted by jamjam at 3:36 PM on September 29, 2006


I don't see how you get beyond five Buffaloes: Buffalo who are from Buffalo buffalo other Buffalo from Buffalo. Where do the other ones come in?

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
Angry MeFites Angry MeFites fight fight Angry Mefites.

Angry MeFites that Angry Mefites fight also fight Angry Mefites -- that and also help divide the sentence correctly for parsing.

That help?
posted by linux at 3:46 PM on September 29, 2006


Buffallo... is a good one, but Police Police police Police is better, and the best is:
Wouldn't the sentence "I want to put a hyphen between the words Fish and And and And and Chips in my 'Fish And Chips' sign" have been clearer if quotation marks had been placed before Fish, and between Fish and and, and and and And, and And and and, and and and And, and And and and, and and and Chips, as well as after Chips?
posted by eriko at 3:53 PM on September 29, 2006 [4 favorites]


jellicle:John where James had had had had had had had had had had had the teacher's approval.

John, where James had "had", had "had had"; "had had" had had the teacher's approval.

Or the innkeeper who went outside and admonished the signpainter:
"You've left too much space between George and and and and and Dragon."
posted by Rumple at 4:02 PM on September 29, 2006


Isn't "shit" an adjective in British English? Sounds like you could have a pretty productive sentence there, too.

Shit shits shit shit! Hehe.
posted by delmoi at 4:10 PM on September 29, 2006


My head hurts.
posted by quin at 4:19 PM on September 29, 2006


Fuck! I just lost the game!
posted by loquacious at 4:35 PM on September 29, 2006


Now I've lost the game as well. Fuck!

Thanks for this, ChasFile! Great stuff.
posted by chudmonkey at 4:36 PM on September 29, 2006


By George, I think I've got it!
posted by ursus_comiter at 4:45 PM on September 29, 2006


Or maybe, delmoi: shit shits shit shit shit. shit! (adj npl v adj ns. excl!). Is shit really not an adjective outside British English?
posted by featherboa at 4:58 PM on September 29, 2006


There are no buffalo in Buffalo. Bison, yes, at the zoo, but no buffalo.
posted by owhydididoit at 5:14 PM on September 29, 2006


Not a sentence, but a nerdy pastime some friends and I tackled every now and then was the word "Antidisestablishmentarianism", and how to make it longer. I think the last (longest) one we got to was "psuedoantidisestablishmentarianistesque".
posted by zardoz at 5:14 PM on September 29, 2006


I wrapped my brain around it. But now my brain won't come unwrapped. Great post!
posted by odasaku at 6:04 PM on September 29, 2006


Is shit really not an adjective outside British English?

it tends to be "shitty" in america

(hmmm ... i must be another one of those america-hating liberals)
posted by pyramid termite at 6:05 PM on September 29, 2006


It tends to be shitty everywhere, really. It's the human condition.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:12 PM on September 29, 2006


It tends to be shitty everywhere, really. It's the human condition.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:14 PM on September 29, 2006


(It tends to.... oh, fuck it.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:15 PM on September 29, 2006


Badgers badgers badger badger badgers

I've actually said something similar to this relatively recently. I had no idea there was a backstory.

In context, we were driving in downtown Madison when the UW game was just starting.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:41 PM on September 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


Oh give me a homonym
Where the buffalo romonym...
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:18 PM on September 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS

Oh wait, this isn't the same thing.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 7:20 PM on September 29, 2006 [2 favorites]


Many things many people say confuse many people.
posted by carsonb at 9:04 PM on September 29, 2006


You can buffalo as long as you want, just like the police.

B's from B who B the B's from B who B the B's from B who B the B's from B... verily, they do B the B's from B who B the B's from B who B the B's from B who B the B's from B.

It's enough to make a high school student (or teacher) spooge and see God.
posted by fleacircus at 12:22 AM on September 30, 2006


This was a great post, I read the whole wikipedia article, whic was cool.

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
posted by blacklite at 3:58 AM on September 30, 2006


"which." I can't spell, it's 4 AM and I have been working for about a hundred million hours. I need a cigarette. Hi metafilter.
posted by blacklite at 3:59 AM on September 30, 2006


Excellent post, and extra points for including the Language Log link.

(The sentence is perfectly good as is and needs no elaborate logical analysis; delmoi is overthinking it.)
posted by languagehat at 4:45 AM on September 30, 2006


Woodchucks chuck woodchucks chuck chuck woodchucks chuck.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 6:19 AM on September 30, 2006


Okay, so I guess that last one is suggesting that meat can throw, which is only slightly more preposterous than the notion that buffalo have bad manners, particularly those from Buffalo.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 6:22 AM on September 30, 2006


MOO.
posted by davy at 6:30 AM on September 30, 2006


owhydididoit: American bison and American buffalo are the same thing (Bison bison). Uh oh. Let the scientific name shenanigans ensue!
posted by heydanno at 6:56 AM on September 30, 2006


test
posted by DenOfSizer at 7:44 AM on September 30, 2006


If anyone is having trouble parsing it, the structure is the same as the sentence, "London cats London cats attack attack London cats." Except they aren't cats and they aren't from London.
posted by w0mbat at 9:24 AM on September 30, 2006


It's "shite" in Britain.

I had a bison steak last night at one of Ted Turner's restaurants. Fantastic- and it has more iron.
posted by wfc123 at 9:42 AM on September 30, 2006


Oh yeah- it seems Turner's a stickler for food prep and nutrition

And they don't barbeque (carcinogens) - they use a flat grill.



I was pleasantly surprised and impressed.
posted by wfc123 at 9:50 AM on September 30, 2006


Bison. They're called bison.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:50 AM on September 30, 2006


What's the difference between a buffalo and a bison?


You can't wash your hands in a buffalo.
posted by Rumple at 11:28 AM on September 30, 2006


This post needs more beefalo.
posted by flaterik at 1:11 PM on September 30, 2006


I just spent way too much time trying to figure out Rumple's joke. I'm not sure, but I think it involves awful English accents.
posted by Gable Oak at 1:36 PM on September 30, 2006


Ahhh here we go! I feel much better now.
posted by Gable Oak at 1:40 PM on September 30, 2006


Thank you, w0mbat. People have been trying to explain this to me for days and yours is the first explanation that has made any sense at all.
posted by occhiblu at 7:19 PM on September 30, 2006


It bears mentioning that the bovine in question by it's full scientific name is called Bison (Bison) bison bison . (genus, subgenus, species, subspecies)
posted by Eothele at 8:03 PM on September 30, 2006


only grammatically valid if you somehow stretch the word "buffalo" to be not only a verb and a noun but also an adjective. Your third link up there says it's not, and I agree

Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight,
Come out tonight, come out tonight.
Buffalo Gals , won't you come out tonight
And dance by the light of the moon.
posted by ManInSuit at 8:30 AM on October 1, 2006


What, no one has posted a picture yet? I came here just to see the buffalo.

(Or fine, even a picture of Buffalo buffalo, damn you all and your clever homophones, I swore I wasn't going to get sucked in.)
posted by salvia at 8:38 PM on October 2, 2006


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