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October 02, 2010

Contrastive reduplication - Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

I was drew a sign once that said "FishAndChips".

A passer-by commented, "You need more space between Fish and And and And and Chips".

I replied, "When saying that you should hesitate between 'Fish and And' and 'and' and 'And and Chips'".

*presses LIKE like button*

I lubs me some sentence parsing. I was the kid in fifth grade that secretly cheered when the teacher made the class diagram. Since I usually had it correct, I was universally hated in grade school. But we all hated math, so the shunning was only temporary.

Actually, the whole sentence is incorrect. North American Bovidae, including those from Buffalo, New York are correctly termed Bison (sp. bison bison.)

'Buffalo' is the popular name often used to describe North American bison; however, this is a misnomer. In fact, buffalo are distinctly different animals from bison. Although both bison and buffalo belong to the same family, Bovidae, true 'buffalo' are native only to Africa and Asia.

Oddly enough, if you keep looking at the word 'bison' eventually it will look totally strange and wrong.

I just realized you could do something similar with the infamous F-word:

"Fuck, fuck fuck fuck"

But could only achieve extreme grammatically extreme reduplication with the addition of some "-s" and "-ed".

"Fuck, fuck fucked fucks, fuck fucked fuck's fucked fuck fucks fuck fucked fuck's fuck fucked fuck fuck."

I could go on, but I've reached my self-imposed limit for use of the F-word for October. Drat.

Bisonofabitch, BlueHorse, "Buffalo buffalo" need not be native to the area; they could easily be Asian buffalo in the Buffalo Zoo.

Nope, foop, no buffalo at the Buffalo Zoo. Just good ol' red, white and blue American bisons.

(Go ahead and parse that one for meaning.)

actually oneswellfoop, you could say you were quoting from the Billy Connolly post above, so although you were swearing you weren't SWEARING swearing.

There is a very long and complicated joke in Mandarin which involves only the word 'shi' (which means a ton of things depending on tone, ranging, IIRC, from the verb to be, to the number 4, to 'death') but I don't remember any more about it than that... Alnedra? Abiezer, if you're still out there somewhere? Other Mandarin-speaking monkeys? Help a girl out?

The one I remember, mothy, is about 14 stone lions.

十四只石狮子 (in Pinyin shi2 si4 zhi1 shi2 shi1 zi3)

Because the tone ranges so much as well as pronunciation it can be quite difficult to say quickly.

Translation of above joke:

14 stone lions walk into a bar. 13 sit at a table and one goes up to the barkeeper and says, "can I have 8 pints of bitter and 6 glasses of cranberry juice, please". The barkeeper replies, "I'll bring them out to you - just tell me who gets the juice" and the lion turns round, points and says, "she, si, zhi, she, she and zi".

Only have one joke in Mandarin -- ma ma = horse feathers.

There's also another one, which is both a joke and a source of linguistic contention. Some linguists insist that Mandarin has a fifth tone, which is not discernible to all speakers; this is when there are two consecutive words in the third tone; the first word automatically switches to this mysterious fifth tone which is supposed to be just like the second tone.

So the phrases "to buy a horse" and "to bury a horse" are supposed to sound subtly different.

买马 (mai3 ma3) AND 埋马 (ma2 ma3) are both identical to my ears, but they are supposed to be different.

Hmmmm, that would be important to differentiate, especially around here!

*goes out to count them and make sure they're all standing*

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