7 May 2006
How much can a bare bear bear?Submitted by Karl Hagen
Linguists often like to explore sentences that are grammatically well formed but hard for people to parse. Apart from provoking simple curiosity, they also suggest things about how the mind processes language. So, for example, there are "garden path" sentences such as "The horse raced past the barn fell." There are also sentences composed from homophones. Stephen Pinker (in The Language Instinct) provides one from Buffalo (the city), buffalo (the animal), and buffalo (to deceive or intimidate):
Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
Which means "Bison from Buffalo (that other) bison from Buffalo intimidate (themselves) intimidate (other) bison from Buffalo."