Talk:Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo/Archive 2

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just a little thought

I was just wondering - is sentence "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo Bill" gramatically correct too? It should be! --Have a nice day. Running 22:50, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Seems like it. -kotra 21:03, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo (11 buffaloes)

"Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo" can translate to: [The] buffalo from Buffalo, New York [that other] buffalo from Buffalo, New York bully [, themselves] bully Buffalo from Buffalo, New York [that] buffalo from Buffalo, Minnesota (or many other states) bully. Why isn't something like this included? If, in the original 8-word sentence, "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo" is correct then "Buffalo buffalo buffalo" can also be applied to the last two words, "Buffalo buffalo," at the end of the sentence.

There is a buffalo gang in Buffalo, Minnesota who bully buffalo gang A in Buffalo, New York. Buffalo gang A in New York are bullied by buffalo gang B in New York, who are bullied by buffalo gang C from New York.

Using arrows to depict who bullies who: Buffalo gang C --> buffalo gang B (the subject of the sentence, represented by the opening "Buffalo buffalo") --> buffalo gang C <-- buffalo gang from Buffalo, Minnesota.

This seems correct. Anyone agree? Can this be mentioned on the article?—oac old american century talk @ 19:14, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Please read carefully, it's already in there. —johndburger 01:18, 9 June 2007 (UTC)
10-4. Roger n' out.—oac old american century talk @ 02:16, 9 June 2007 (UTC)

Incorrect definition?

The verb form of "buffalo" is repeatedly said to mean "bully" in this article. I think that's incorrect. Merriam Webster claims buffalo means bewilder, baffle, bamboozle, and I've only heard it used in that sense until now. Can anyone produce a definition from the OED or other reliable source supporting the "bully" claim? If not, let's replace "bully" with "cheat" or "baffle." —Preceding unsigned comment added by Cheesebikini (talkcontribs) 11:45, 21 June 2007

According to the online version of the OED (I've only got access through my university, so I can't post a direct link), buffalo as a verb means "to overpower, overawe, or constrain by superior force or influence," which can essentially be taken to mean "bully." It does also mean to outwit or perplex, but the bully part is still in there. --clpo13 09:17, 13 July 2007 (UTC)
The American Heritage Dictionary also defines buffalo as "to intimidate, as by a display of confidence or authority" along with "to confuse; bewilder" and "to decieve; hoodwink." Applejaxs 16:23, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Another way of thinking about it's meaning might be "to bullshit" -- as in the way a used car salesman gets you to buy a car: part show, part lies, part pressure. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:12, 8 May 2008 (UTC)


The conclusion of the article states that a set of all sentences of the type buffalon where n≥1 are grammatically sound. Is this correct? I can see how this works up to n=8. What happens at 9? Or 14? It seems like there's an upper bound on the recursion. The sentence seems to become meaningless if one continues to insert 'Buffalo buffalo buffalo' (that Buffalo bison bully). Wouldn't this be equivalent to a sentence structure like "Japanese people who Japanese people favor (who Japanese people favor, . . . ad infinitum) VP." The sentence seems to lose its sense once the second relative phrase is inserted? Even if this type of construction is allowed, how do I parse 9 iterations. If 8 iterations brackets like this: [[[Buffaloadj][buffalon]]NP[Buffaloa[buffalon[buffalov]]RP][[buffalov][[Buffaloadj][buffalon]NP]VP]S]

What can be done with the ninth? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Joshua Crowgey (talkcontribs) 11:33, 24 July 2007

When you move into the higher number of numbers of buffalos, you basically just start describing a pecking order in the process of describing the subject of the sentence (i.e., the buffalo that is doing the bullying). You say something along the lines of, "the bison from New York that bison from New York that bison from New York intimidate intimidate intimidate bison from New York." In fact, I believe it says so much in the article. At a certain level (maybe 9), it becomes hard for most people to parse but it is grammatical. But then again, those qualities are sort of the point of the sentence in the first place. —mako 14:24, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
I added this to the end of the article; it can easily be done with quotes.

Heshy613 13:05, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

It's really a theoretical claim, introduced by Chomsky, that the sentences are grammatical for higher n. (Of course, he wasn't talking about this sentence in particular, but about recursive syntactic procedures in general.) How do we know that the Buffalo sentence is grammatical with n = 10 trillion? In fact center embedding starts to become unparseable after only a few repetitions. Chomskyan grammarians hold that this is most parsimoniously handled by calling it a limitation of the brain rather than a fact about the grammar. Zompist 21:02, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

WHY? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 16:36, August 23, 2007 (UTC)

Heshy613's quotes are unnecessary, and appear to be original research, so I removed the example. You can just keep adding clauses after 'buffalo' (the common noun), and swapping words out elsewhere. Some ways buffalo^n works after n = 9 is - I'm using the 'synonyms' NY, bison and bully to illustrate:

9. (NY bison [which] bison bully) bully (bison [which] NY bison bully)
10. (Bison) bully (NY bison [which] NY bison (NY bison bully) bully)
11. (NY Bison) bully (NY bison [which] NY bison ([which] NY bison bully) bully)
12. (bison [which] bison ([which] NY bison bully) bully) bully (NY bison [which] NY bison bully)

Robin Johnson (talk) 13:17, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Yes, in a mathematical sense it's quite easy to prove that the sentence works for all Buffalon where n is an element of positive integers. You can do it recursively, given that it works for n=1, n=2, and n=3, and you have recursion rules allowing you to add 1 in some cases, add 2 (and perhaps subtract one) in others, so in all cases of Buffalon it's possible to add 1 to n by either of the two rules. The only assumptions you need are not Chomskyan grammar, but simple math and grammar rules and the Well Ordered Axiom.Eebster the Great (talk) 20:55, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Related subject - for this, or for the other examples page?

Seems worth a mention here or there - the old "Sarah where Jane had had had had had had had had had had had the professor's approval." Not sure if the need for punctuation there makes it quite different or what, but... anyhow, put me in mind of that. 05:27, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

The examples with unwieldy repetitive hads had been listed under the recently deleted List of homophonous phrases. There were things like John, when playing a game of Scrabble against Dick who, whilst pondering the degree of legitimacy the last word that Harry (who had had 'had') had had had had, had had 'had', had had 'had'. Had 'had' had more letters, he would have played it again. I am sure they deserve their own page, given enough references. --Cubbi 10:37, 27 August 2007 (UTC)
Why has the article "List of homophonous phrases" been removed??? There is an old version in where you can see the previous version of the article before been erased ( - —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:29, 1 March 2008 (UTC)
[Adjusting indents.] See discussion here: WP:Articles_for_deletion/List_of_homophonous_phrases. —johndburger 03:50, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

Protecting the page?

I believe it would be necessary at least temporarily, because the last 20 edits have been vandalism and reversion. • Ekevu 14:47, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Well, it isn't a huge target; it can be easily managed by people who watch this page. So I don't see a real need for a semi protect. i said 22:47, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Because managing this page is PARAMOUNT to the preservation of such a significant cultural and societal artifact and example of meaningful and productive intellectual content.

Also, lol.  :)

The 'translated' examples

There are too many, it makes the article read clumsily. I suggest we get rid of all of them, except the Buffalo bison bully one, since it is the clearest.--poorsodtalk 10:26, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

I agree—go ahead, be bold. —johndburger 02:49, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
I love this article. I agree also, but I think it's important to keep one 'translation' as a semantically similar and sytactically equivalent which is easier to parse has great explicative value. J Crow 07:19, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

i dont get it

i thought i did but New York bison New York bison bully bully New York bison doesn't seem to make sense to me. bah im just an idiot.

"New York bison[,] [that] New York bison bully[,] bully New York bison." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:46, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Think about it in another context: Tasty animals Big John likes to eat fight Big John. Here it is clear that the subject is "tasty animals," the main verb "fight," and the object "Big John." The phrase "Big John likes to eat" is a category of tasty animals, to distinguish these tasty animals from, say, tasty animals he doesn't like to eat.
In the case of the buffalo, the particular NY bison who bully other NY bison are the ones whom other NY bison bully. It does get rather confusing when you have so many different NY bison (or in the actual sentence, Buffalo buffalo) to keep track of.Eebster the Great (talk) 21:04, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
That's a wonderful explanation, now I get it. Thanks! (talk) 04:39, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

I still don't get it. However, "Buffalo buffalo that Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" seems to make sense to me. It doesn't seem to make sense to me without the word 'that'. Can somebody please explain to me why the word 'that' is unnecessary? (talk) 06:55, 1 October 2010 (UTC)

The punctuation and conjunctions are left out, in order to make a point (an over-the-top example, if you will). The same goes for James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher - the sentence is a lot clearer if we add punctuation, but less memorable as an educational example of our amazing language. HTH. -- Quiddity (talk) 16:34, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
'That' is frequently optional in English. 'The potatoes (that) I ate today were delicious.' 'You told me (that) you would never eat potatoes again!' 'Yes but I was drunk on the night (that) I said that', and so on. In this form, in fact, I'm not sure its omission is ever a grammatical error - though it may be a stylistic one, since some things are certainly easier to read when it's included. --Oolong (talk) 22:10, 1 October 2010 (UTC)


Shouldn't there be a few commas, even if it is just to read better? & And isn't Bufallo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffallo Buffalo buffalo[ing] buffalo [from] Buffalo? microchip08 15:59, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

I'm not sure I understand your question. In terms of commas, technically the absence of commas is correct, since the relative clause (albeit, with the relative pronoun "whom" assumed) is essential in this sentence. Not all buffalo get buffaloed by other buffalo, just these particular ones. Besides, adding in commas is contradictory the point, which is to create a sentence which is just an infinite recursion of "buffalo" (in fact, I prefer to construct the sentence using the adjective "buffalo" meaning "cunning," so there isn't even capitalization to give clues). Of course, with too many buffaloes it's nearly impossible to actually parse or understand the sentence, but that doesn't mean it isn't gramatically correct. Also, "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" is a correct sentence if taken to mean "NY bison [whom] NY bison indimidate indimidate cunning NY buffalo."Eebster the Great (talk) 21:11, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
Did you just make up the adjective meaning of 'buffalo'? In any case, it's unnecessary - 'buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo' is a perfectly valid sentence even if buffalo is only a verb and a noun. --Oolong (talk) 22:28, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
In English many nouns, including most place names, can be used as attributively, i.e. as adjectives. A Buffalo schoolteacher is a schoolteacher from Buffalo. A Buffalo buffalo is a buffalo from Buffalo. Koro Neil (talk) 03:49, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

Commas in explanation

Josephgrossberg just added some commas, in this revision. But I don't agree with it. The previous version, without commas:

Buffalo bison whom other Buffalo bison bully themselves bully Buffalo bison

This says that the specific Buffalo bison are bullied by other Buffalo bison themselves bully Buffalo bison

But to my mind the changed version:

Buffalo bison, whom other Buffalo bison bully, themselves bully Buffalo bison

Means that Buffalo bison in general (which, by the way, are all bullied by other Buffalo bison) bully Buffalo bison. In order for the original sentence to mean this, I think it would need at least a that/which/whom and some punctuation.

So I'm going to change it back, but of course if Josephgrossberg or anyone else disagrees with my analysis they can explain why and change it back, I would prefer to start a discussion than an edit war. --Angelastic 00:05, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

It needs no commas—in fact they would be ungrammatical. —johndburger 02:30, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
The commas would not be ungrammatical, but merely would mean something different, like Angelastic said. Your sentence, however, is ungrammatical, as there should be a comma after "in fact." I wonder, though, are smily faces ungrammatical? :) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Eebster the Great (talkcontribs) 21:14, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Other words

It might be worth noting that there are other words in English for which this kind of sentence can be constructed. Any word which is both a plural noun and a plural form of a transitive verb will do. Examples include fish, smelt, bream (vt. to clean e.g. a ship's bottom by burning off seaweed, shells etc), and cod (vt. to hoax; to poke fun at). Gdr 23:17, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

Not so. The word also must be useable to modify a noun, as a quasi-adjective. That's why the city of Buffalo is involved: "Buffalo buffalo" means 'bison in the city of Buffalo'. But what are "cod cod"? None of these words fit that requirement, and I'm removing the section.
  • the verb "fish" doesn't take a direct object. "*He's fishing cod" is ungrammatical (that's what the asterisk means); it needs a :preposition: "He's fishing for cod".
  • "dice" (used in the section, not mentioned by Gdr) won't work well because dice are inanimate and can't do things like :dicing (chopping up) other dice
  • I don't know where you found the verb "cod". Merriam-Webster doesn't have it, and the OED lists only one verb sense, obsolete and not useable with the noun "cod".
"cod" is a colloquial English verb, it's being in use for many many years over this side of the pond and a favourite amongst fishy puns. It may also be mangled as an acronym for Cash On Delivery, so you could possibly make a sentence like cod [fish] cod [verb] cod [fish] [about] cod [Cash on Delivery].
All the senses have to be fairly familiar or the example fails to teach, because the hearer/reader will often react "That's not English at all; I've never even heard of that word/meaning!".
Thnidu (talk) 12:46, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
Well, you could build less impressive sentences with two meanings. You don't really need an adjective, noun, and a verb; you just need a noun and a verb. So "Smelt smelt smelt", "Smelt {smelt smelt} smelt smelt", and so on. Though even that construction wouldn't work very well for those others. Soap Talk/Contributions 18:51, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
"smelt smelt smelt" makes perfect sense in a "n v n": Smelt (fish) smelt (smell, past tense) smelt (fish). In English, smelt is the past tense of to smell (though I gather the American dialect uses smelled). This makes a lot more sense than the article's sentence, which doesn't truly make sense without at least one preposition.
'Smelt', 'bream', and 'buffalo' are uncotroversially both plural nouns and transitive verbs, so this recursion works for them. 'Cod' is clearly a plural noun, and WordNet lists it as a transitive verb as well, although I don't see that anywhere else. You say 'fish' is only intransitive, but this is clearly wrong, as gives it five transitive definitions; American Heritage, two; Websters, four. However, in the case of 'smelt', the sentence "smelt smelt smelt" makes absolutely no sense, although technically grammatically correct.Eebster the Great (talk) 03:30, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
There are of course two or three questions here - the construction of syntactically valid sentences; the construction of sentences that make any kind of sense at all; and the construction of sentences that might actually be true. 'smelt smelt smelt' makes perfect sense if interpreted as 'Smelt smelled smelt' and is in fact almost certainly true (here is an article on the sense of smell in fishes); by extension, the smelt smelt smelt undoubtedly smelt smelt. It is also possible to interpret it as 'smelt-fish fuse smelt-fish' which makes sense only if you imagine something like an army of self-perpetuating fish-golems. I am less convinced by 'fish' - I don't think 'fish' can be a transitive verb in British English without being phrasal, but I suppose I'll take's word that 'Let's fish the creek' is valid in USian (though Rapaport dissents) - which makes the claim that fish fish fish valid, if implausible. 'People people people' suffers from similar levels of implausibility in that people usually only people places, but perhaps a Society of Mind argument could be made for its truth. 'Bream bream bream' is worse. 'Cod cod cod' is perfectly fine, the transitive verb sense of 'cod' going back at least to the 19th century. It may even be true - I wouldn't put it past them. We can add 'char char char' to the list, though it's hard to imagine small trout-like fishes having the wherewithal to scorch each other. 'Police police police' however is absolutely fine, as noted further down, and indeed the policing of police who are in turn policed by police has been a major problem in a lot of countries. --Oolong (talk) 14:22, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

[Removed from article] For n = 0, this could be argued to be a valid garden path sentence if one's definition of 'sentence' allowed "" as a valid construction. Rational sentences, however, generally include at least one word and thus n = 0 is excluded from the preceding argument.

Similar sentences can be constructed using any words which have identical forms for the plural noun and the plural form of the transitive verb. Some such words are fish, smelt, bream, and cod. Any such words can also be arbitrarily mixed with any other such words to form grammatical sentences, such as "Buffalo fish fish smelt buffalo bream buffalo smelt bream cod bream cod fish."

I removed these bits, unless there are references in the literature for these points, they would seem to constitute original research, if there are references it could go back in, but doesn't seem particularly relevant. --Newbyguesses (talk) 03:49, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
I would certainly consider them relevant, but I agree that there should be a reference. I could gramatically explain the second paragraph, but that might be considered OR.Eebster the Great (talk) 22:19, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

Parse tree

I am perhaps biased, but isn't the parse tree a bit too small to be useful? —johndburger 02:35, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Why is "who" not needed?

I'm being dense, but why is a "who" not needed to make this sentence grammatically correct? That is, I can see why "Buffalo buffalo, who Buffalo buffalo buffalo, buffalo Buffalo buffalo" is grammatically correct, but I can't understand why it's correct without the "who". — Matt Crypto 08:19, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

"The phones people use", "the eggs I bought". You don't need the 'which' there, and you don't need 'who' in the buffalo sentence. (And if you did, it would be whom, or which.) Robin Johnson (talk) 10:29, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
Ah yes, that make sense, thanks. (I'm a bit underconvinced for the need for whom for modern English, but that's a whole other world of off-topic.) — Matt Crypto 19:11, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
Linguists call it a reduced relative clause—the relative clause article discusses it, though not with that term. —johndburger 01:09, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
There's no "who" or "which" needed, because a relative clause is formed. Relative clauses are used a lot. -- Darx21 (talk) 09:10, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

Excellent image

The image at the top, "Image:Buffalo sentence 1 parse tree.svg", really did a good job of clearing up how to read the sentence. I admit I had problems with grasping the first half of the sentence, but it put it in a way that's easy to get (clarifying the tough first five and making the whole sentence make sense). --Bobak (talk) 16:15, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Gee thanks :). King of Hearts turned it into an SVG. If there are other linguistic constructions that are difficult to understand, let me know and I can make similar graphics. —johndburger 01:31, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Encyclopedia topic?

Amusing but is a specific example of a general linguistic oddity really a suitable encyclopedia topic? As the article states any number of similar sentences can be formed. Makes as much sense to me as an article on "Have you stopped beating your wife?" which btw redirects to a general topic. Gr8white (talk) 19:13, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

It's a frequently discussed example in linguistics. See the references, as well as the previous AFDs. —johndburger 01:01, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Totally ridiculous. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? I see that redirects to woodchuck...maybe I should write the article :^) (and yes, I read the references etc., still not convinced.) Gr8white (talk) 03:57, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

What do you believe merits an encyclopedia topic? Creating pages like this is cost free and interesting, and doesn't take any space another article ought to use (it's safe to say that anybody typing in "buffalo" that many times does not expect an ordinary article about buffalo). This page also serves as a means of explaining a sentence complex and interesting enough to require quite a bit of explanation, which in wikipedian terms merits a separate article. In most cases it would be something like "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo (linguistics)," but again I think it's safe to say that this name will not conflict with another article. Also bear in mind that ALL encyclopedia articles in fact are specific examples of something more general, and that including more information is never bad when it doesn't take away from anything else. Besides, look at how many people have posted here--it's not like it's entirely unheard of and should be up for deletion.Eebster the Great (talk) 21:21, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Another way to visualize this, perhaps?

I have no idea if such a visualization concept is accepted in linguistic circles or not, so this is likely just WP:OR, but I found that one way of visualizing the structure of complex sentences is to group portions together. For instance:

'[[Buffalo bison] [Buffalo bison bully]] bully [Buffalo bison]'
('[[Buffalo bison] (that) [Buffalo bison bully]] bully [Buffalo bison]')

This method helps me to understand how the concepts made by words 1-2 and 3-5 make up a singular concept, and that words 7-8 are another singular concept related to the first one. So, would anything like this have a place in the article? — KieferSkunk (talk) — 22:48, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

minor error

"Buffaloc buffaloa Buffaloc buffaloa buffalov buffalov Buffaloc buffaloa Buffaloc buffaloa buffalov"
should be:
Buffaloc buffaloa Buffaloc buffaloa buffalov buffalov Buffaloc buffaloa buffalov Buffaloc buffaloa —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:21, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Not so, look at the parse tree to understand where the verbs are—"extended sentence" has same subject and object. —johndburger 02:10, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

Police police police police police police

I noticed the article "Police police police police police police" redirects here. Is there a reason nothing is mentioned in the article about this phrase?

Who polices?
The police police.
Then, who polices the police?
The police police police police.
So, who polices the police police?
Police police police police police police.
—From User:Benjamin Mako Hill/List of homophonous phrases

This can be made arbitrarily long. − Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 00:45, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

Find a source for it, and this could be added as another example. PaulGS (talk) 19:48, 11 July 2008 (UTC)

Here's a source,
  • Hans-Martin Gärtner, Generalized Transformations and Beyond, p58, Akademie Verlag, 2002. Retrieved online 6th Octber 2008.
But it would probably be better in the article List of linguistic example sentences with the redirect changed to there. SpinningSpark 10:50, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

This article reminds me of that Marclar episode from South Park. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:05, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

Inappropriate censoring of the article

I understand Wikipedia's efforts to keep its content accurate and relevant, but there are certainly some cases where the censors go to far. I have attempted several times to post several relevant edits to this page, only to have them removed shortly after: 1) The hot wing sauce used for buffalo wings could undoubtedly add another "buffalo" to the sentence by changing "Buffalo buffalo" to "buffalo Buffalo buffalo," meaning bison from the New York city covered in the wing sauce. Surely anything covered in the wing sauce can be referred to as "buffalo [blank]," as many restaurants sell buffalo wings, buffalo strips, buffalo shrimp, and other creative variations on the use of the sauce. 2) A fourth group of buffalo can easily be added to the end of the sentence, resulting in a meaning of "Bison that bison bully in turn bully other bison that bison bully." If we call these four groups of buffalo Buffalo buffalo "Buffalo A, B, C, and D," then the shortened form of the sentence could be rephrased as "Buffalo A Buffalo B buffalo buffalo Buffalo C Buffalo D buffalo." The pecking order would then consist of Buffalo B and D at the top, Buffalo A in the next tier, and Buffalo C at the bottom. The resultant sentence would be "Buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo." I find this 15 buffalo sentence to be nearly as elegant as the 8 word sentence in the name of this article, while almost twice as long.

I would also like to suggest that the blog entry "[More buffalo than you can handle]" on the "Buffalo This" blog is the best and most entertaining piece of writing I have seen on this topic and should certainly be included in the external links. Censorship on this site has really gone overboard and it is a shame that readers are left with incomplete articles as a result. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:10, 11 July 2008 (UTC)

There's references to the other three meanings of "buffalo", but blogs, unless they're by some sort of recognized expert, or where someone notable makes a comment on a blog and that comment becomes notable, blogs generally aren't acceptable references, and the use of "buffalo" to mean "cover in sauce" is a use of it I've never heard of, and sounds more like some attempt at marketing than any actual widespread use. As such, your additions fall under WP:OR, which has its place in the blog you linked to, not here. That said, I don't have a problem with keeping it as an external link, but the rest of what you added is original research. And while it might be a kind of censorship, Wikipedia has content policies that we all have to live by, or we can go start our own web pages. I agree sometimes things get out of hand regarding what stays and what goes, but this isn't an example of "overboard" censorship. PaulGS (talk) 19:46, 11 July 2008 (UTC)
If the reference to buffalo sauce is new to you, you're probably outside the U.S. We have a well-sourced article on Buffalo wings that describes the sauce. It's not really an "attempt at marketing", any more than French restaurants using the term "Lyonnaise" to refer to onion-based dishes is an "attempt at marketing"—it's just the name of a widespread preparation and will be generally understood by the public. That said, you are correct that we require references to reliable sources as part of our commitment to verifiability. -- Coneslayer (talk) 19:56, 11 July 2008 (UTC)
The problem here is that "Buffalo wings" are referring to the city of Buffalo. Like "Boston cream pie". − Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 01:44, 12 July 2008 (UTC)
I'm quite familiar with buffalo (Buffalo?) wings (and the buffalo sauce that goes on them), but I've never heard "to buffalo" meaning "to cover in buffalo sauce". Of course, English in general, especially nowadays, loves turning other parts of speech into verbs, so it wouldn't surprise me that someone somewhere has used it in this way. Or maybe I just misread the "More buffalo than you can handle" title as some kind of catchy slogan rather than the title of the blog post - in any case, it's definitely a slang use, and, without something more than a blog post on extending the sentence, it comes across as silly, particularly with the editor ranting about censorship. PaulGS (talk) 07:42, 12 July 2008 (UTC)
But unless I'm missing something, he's not using it as a verb. He's using it as an adjective in the form "buffalo X", meaning "X covered in buffalo sauce", forming "buffalo buffalo" in the same pattern as "buffalo wings" or "buffalo shrimp". -- Coneslayer (talk) 10:26, 12 July 2008 (UTC)
Hmm. Well, that would make more sense, but it still falls under WP:OR, unless it was taken from somewhere else (and not just a blog). Blog posts are where stuff like this goes, not Wikipedia. PaulGS (talk) 19:14, 13 July 2008 (UTC)

Jane said

It seems to me that comprehending esoteric sentences such as the buffalo one might be easier if the reader was given some similar but simpler sentences on which to practise.

For example: Jane said that that that that you said was unnecessary.

Wanderer57 (talk) 01:40, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

John whereas Jane had had had had had had had had had had had the teacher's approval. Can we have an article on that one too? SpinningSpark 09:49, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
Ok, I've just seen it, there already is. Apparently, the only thing Wikipedia does not have an article on is the piece of fluff in my navel. SpinningSpark 10:10, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
There are many other important topics still to be covered. Are you going to write the navel one yourself or would that be a conflict of interest? Wanderer57 (talk) 19:18, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

incorrect syntax (shown in choice of capitalization); missing relative pronoun

The sentence is not capitalized correctly.

It should read "Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo,"

or, as displayed in the article with the indicators c (the adjective, meaning "from the city of Buffalo, NY"); a (the noun "the animal called buffalo"); and v (the verb "to buffalo", meaning "to bully"):

"Buffaloc buffaloa buffalov Buffaloc buffaloa (*) Buffaloc buffaloa buffalov,"

not: "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo", which is how it is phrased as of the typing of this post.

That's a correction that needs to be made to the article itself.

As for the sentence, it's not technically correct without the word "whom" between the 4th and 5th words.

Despite the omission of "whom", it's still pretty neat that that much repetition of a specific word could sustain a logical statement. It's a minor omission-- one necessary to the novelty of the sentence, and it's an error honored widely in common usage.

Given that, the "Buffalo7" performs an interesting feat, one that makes it worth passing around, and certainly one which merits it mention on this page.

Candyhammer 18:08, 10 October 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Candyhammer (talkcontribs)

Candyhammer, your latest change doesn't match the diagrams. In fact the sentence can be read two ways. The diagrams suggest the reading "B-buffalo that are buffaloed by other B-buffalo, (also) buffalo other B-buffalo". Your change suggests a different reading: "B-buffalo buffalo those B-buffalo that buffalo other B-buffalo." (I trust it's clear that I'm using "B-buffalo" for readability.) It's fine to point out the ambiguity, but the explanation should match the diagrams. Zompist (talk) 20:44, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
Also note that the published citations, such as Pinker's, use the capitalization and the interpretation as originally given. I've restored these but added a section on the ambiguity when the capitalization is changed. Zompist (talk) 21:36, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

Ambiguity acknowledged

thanks. original syntax also clicked for me only just now. weird! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:30, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

simpler example and illustration

This article overexplains. Here is a simpler example of the sentence and a simpler explanation, keeps all the fun, eliminates all the drudge. "Buffalo" seven times in a row is a proper sentence: "buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo." To understand it, think about the sentiment from popular culture, where women say "how come all the good men are gay", meaning "we women like men who share some of our interests, but those men like other men". So, consider "men women love love men women love" or, "gay men love other gay men". Now, I'm sure you can improve on that, but that basic idea captures the whole essence, and the reader going back over it, short and sweet, is much more valuable than all the overexplaining. Sure, you can make the sentence longer if you want to say the people are from Buffalo and use the proper noun (always a cheat), Buffalo men women love love Buffalo men women love" (talk) 18:34, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

and that said, I would dispute the article stating that one difficulty in parsing the sentence is "The use of 'buffalo' as a verb is not particularly common and itself has several meanings" If you don't know the verb "buffalo", the sentence is impossible to parse. If you do know the verb (and humans are extremely good at learning a new word), then the sentence in the preceding paragraph is easy to parse in your head. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:39, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

Just a heads up

An ip, (Contributions), has been vandalising the Buffalo×8 page. If you check his contribs, all of his edits have been vandalism on said page. This would imply, at least to me, that this will continue. What proper course of action should be taken? Rather, are we to just wait and see what he does? ~九尾の氷狐~ (「Sumimasen!」 「Dochira samaka?」) 07:10, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

He has been warned on his talk page, and if he continues as is past the fourth warning, we can report him at Wikipedia:Administrator intervention against vandalism. For more info vandalism and dealing with it, you can go to Wikipedia:Vandalism. Thanks, Vsst (talk) 07:31, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

Alright thanks for the info. I'm not really all that keen on how to handle vandals, so I tip my hat to you good wikipatron. *tips hat* ~九尾の氷狐~ (「Sumimasen!」 「Dochira samaka?」) 07:42, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

By this point...

...the word "buffalo" has lost absolutely all meaning in my mind. (talk) 22:59, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Spanish " . . . como como como"

Shouldn't the second-to-last "como" be "cómo"? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jason Fruit (talkcontribs) 17:01, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

No. According to my Gran Larousse (2nd ed., 2002), the accented form cómo is used only for interrogatives or exclamations. The meaning here ("in the manner that...") is not accented. Peter Chastain (talk) 21:12, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

More incorrect syntax


Buffaloa buffalon Buffaloa buffalon buffalov buffalov Buffaloa buffalon.


Buffaloa buffalon buffalov Buffaloa buffalon Buffaloa buffalon buffalov. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:28, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

Seems to me both are right, and the former matches the rest of the explanation in the article. Can someone look into this? Shreevatsa (talk) 12:34, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
See the discussion above about "incorrect syntax" above. You can't change the capitalization; this isn't a text subject to change, it's a published example discussed in linguistics (an example is the Pinker book, p. 210) and has to be cited and explained as the published sources do. Zompist (talk) 00:22, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

Russian example in "other languages"

Russian: Косил косой косой косой косой косой, meaning "A drunk cross-eyed hare was mowing grass with a curved scythe".

(Косил) (косой косой) (косой косой косой) = (Was mowing) [by] (curved scythe) (a drunk cross-eyed hare) = (Was mowing) (a drunk cross-eyed hare) [by] (curved scythe).

But here is one bad thing in this example. Though "косой" means all "drunk" and "cross-eyed" and "hare" (slang, colloquialism), two or more homonym adjectives related to single noun can't be used in single sentence in Russian. "Косой косой косой" would be read rather as "a very-very drunk hare" or "a very-very cross-eyed hare".

You should cut out one "косой" from the example and leave "a drunk hare" or "a cross-eyed hare".

The classic Russian example is even shorter — "Косил косой косой косой" — "A hare was mowing by curved (kinda old\broken\rough) scythe".

Native Russian speaker, 24 May 2009. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:22, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

The point of Buffalo is to show a sentence which can be parsed by an algorithmic parser, but cannot be easily understood by a human. In order for the current example to be read as "very drunk" or "very cross-eyed", the repeated adjectives carrying identical meaning must be connected by a dash, as far as I remember Russian punctuation. Without a dash, the parser must assign different meanings to the two adjectives. Do you have a reference to a specific rule banning two homonym adjectives describing the same noun? --Cubbi (talk) 19:13, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
As a native russian-speaking, i would object. There really is a usage of verb окосел = "became cross-eyed (because of too much drinking)". And one may say for example "косой от пьянства" = "cross-eyed because of drinking". But if "косой" met along - it should have very strong context to be related to drinking. And i feel like in one phrase the word can hardly have two so adjacent meanings, cross-eyed due to vodka and cross-eyed due to nature. Either direct interpretation or indirect, but one should prevail. What about parsers, the example is of fast-speaking rhymes, like "three switched witches", it is really not to confuse reader, but listener. (talk) 21:21, 21 October 2011 (UTC)


in the Language instinct, Pinker says that the phrase was devised by Annie Senghas (p208). I think that should go in, yes? 22:38, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

No, because that's a mistaken attribution. Shreevatsa (talk) 00:24, 25 June 2009 (UTC)


Could someone look at this? The fact that it is a valid sentence for any n≥1 is the most notable thing about this sentence, and I'm sure there's a reference for it. Shreevatsa (talk) 13:59, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Nevermind; the source mentioned there actually was good enough. Shreevatsa (talk) 22:41, 1 September 2009 (UTC)

The page title and diagram improperly capitalized and labeled

Currently, it means "Buffalo bison Buffalo bison intimidate bison bison Buffalo bison." or "Buffalo bison Buffalo bison bison intimidate bison Buffalo bison." Etc.

It should read "Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo." Meaning "Buffalo bison intimidate Buffalo bison (that are) intimidated (by) Buffalo bison." How do we fix page titles?--Wikifier (talk) 00:49, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

No, the page title and diagram are fine as they stand — and consistent with the sentence used by the sources. Your alternative reading would make sense too, but that is not what the sources use. Please read the article and diagram carefully. Shreevatsa (talk) 00:54, 16 September 2009 (UTC)