Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.


  1. Theoretically, couldn't you have an infinite amount of subordinate clauses, giving an infinitely long (gramatically valid) sentence composed entirely of words spelled "buffalo" or "Buffalo"?

  2. Indeed, although it becomes more and more difficult to parse; language being as much about style and idiom as logic, generally nested subordinate clauses do not appear without their relative pronouns.

    We take subordinate clauses, which are easy to form in English, for granted, but many languages don't have them; they are generally the ones whose cultures never developed a sophisticated legal system, which benefits enormously from such constructions. Linguist Guy Deutscher has posited that one reason the Hittites managed to conquer so much territory at the expense of their contemporaries is that their language's subordinate clauses allowed them to form larger and better-organized societies and armies.

  3. You can omit pronouns in certain English sentences but not in the way you've done it in your third sentence.

  4. It's a little awkward, but it's permitted, especially in spoken English.


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