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What is one to say about June? The time of perfect young summer, the fulfilment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.

Gertrude Jekyll
A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees in June
Is worth a silver spoon;
A swarm of bees in July
Is not worth a fly.
Learn English in May

lexical ambiguity in the American English

Practical_SeverardPractical_Severard Posts: 2,670 ✭✭✭✭
edited January 9 in Fun with words
@mheredge, @Teach, @GemmaRowlands, @amatsuscribbler ,
Can you understand at one hearing only the "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" what is a grammatically correct sentence in American English, often presented as an example of how homonyms and homophones can be used to create complicated linguistic constructs through lexical ambiguity. It has been discussed in literature in various forms since 1967, when it appeared in Dmitri Borgmann's Beyond Language: Adventures in Word and Thought.

The sentence employs three distinct meanings of the word buffalo:

as a proper noun to refer to a specific place named Buffalo, the city of Buffalo, New York being the most notable;
as a verb (uncommon in regular usage) to buffalo, meaning "to bully, harass, or intimidate" or "to baffle"; and
as a noun to refer to the animal, bison (often called buffalo in North America). The plural is also buffalo.

An expanded form of the sentence which preserves the original word order is: "Buffalo bison, that other Buffalo bison bully, also bully Buffalo bison."
Wikipedia
Post edited by Practical_Severard on

Comments

  • TeachTeach Your Teacher HomePosts: 10,446 mod
    I understood two meanings - the animal and the place, but I had no idea you could buffalo someone. :D
  • Practical_SeverardPractical_Severard Posts: 2,670 ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 9
    Teach said:

    I understood two meanings - the animal and the place, but I had no idea you could buffalo someone. :D

    So it was a word soup to you rather than a meaningful sentence, wasn't it?
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