Category Archives: Language Miscellany

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. Part 2!

Earlier this week I posted about the sentence “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo,” and there’s been an ongoing contest to parse it. Just in time for today’s reveal, Callan C. from Madison, WI figured it out!

You can read all about this curious sentence and its history on its very own Wikipedia page. The main thing to know is that some of the words are referring to the city of Buffalo, NY, some are the animal, and some are the rare verb that means to bully or intimidate. Here’s how Callan put it:

DONE: we’re talking about 3 different groups of buffalo (animal) from Buffalo, NY. Some of them like to intimidate each other, evidently. I’m going to use “Bufflesian” for the adjective, “massive cow-beasts” for the noun, and “bully” for the verb instead: Bufflesian massive cow-beasts that are bullied by (other) Bufflesian massive cow-beasts do bully (other) Bufflesian massive cow-beasts.


GIF of Michelle from Full House doing her signature “You got it, dude” move.

Here’s another restructuring, directly from Wikipedia: Bison from Buffalo, New York, who are intimidated by other bison in their community, also happen to intimidate other bison in their community. Somehow it lacks the pizzazz of Bufflesian massive cow-beasts, though.

And a final one from Wikipedia that adds clarifying articles and such instead of substituting words: The buffalo from Buffalo who are buffaloed by buffalo from Buffalo, buffalo other buffalo from Buffalo.

Kudos to Callan for parsing this sentence with style. Enjoy your discount on your next edit!

Fun Friday: Image Macros

If you spend a decent amount of time on The Internet, you’ve probably seen people posting image macros such as this one:


That guy is Actual Advice Mallard (as opposed to his evil twin, the redheaded Malicious Advice Mallard), and he’s saying, “If you want your paper to be taken seriously, have it professionally edited. Hire Science Refinery.” I happen to think that’s some great advice!

For an interesting perspective about how image macros are changing the rules of language, check out this post on The American Scholar.

The the Impotence of Proofreading

Poet Taylor Mali is my hero of the day. Here’s an excerpt from his poem “The the Impotence of Proofreading:”

Has this ever happened to you?
You work very horde on a paper for English clash
And then get a very glow raid (like a D or even a D=)
and all because you are the word1s liverwurst spoiler.
Proofreading your peppers is a matter of the the utmost impotence.

Eye in courage ewe two reed there set of it hear. Wait, scratch that. Even though Word’s spelling and grammar checker doesn’t see anything wrong with that sentence, of course it makes no sense whatsoever. For more great examples, I encourage you to read the rest of it here. You can also listen to the author read it in this YouTube video.

Now I doubt any of you write anywhere near that level. But everyone occasionally makes silly mistakes and typos.* To avoid potential embarrassment, hire a quality editor to edit (or at least proofread) your documents. It’s a matter of the utmost impotence.

*Even me! If you spot one on my site, participate in the “My Bad!” contest to get a discount on your next edit.

What makes readers STOP reading?

Sometimes a book is so disappointing that you just have to put it down. The folks over at goodreads wanted to find out the commonest causes of readers abandoning ship. While their infographic on “The Psychology of Abandonment” doesn’t represent a scientific study (i.e., don’t take it too seriously and don’t generalize beyond their results), it’s certainly interesting.

Nearly 3% of their readers table books with bad editing. Another ~19% do so because of weak writing. That’s more than 1/5 readers leaving for easily preventable causes!

Editing should be invisible. When it’s done right, you don’t notice it at all. But when it’s bad, people can tell. Just one more reason that all writers need editors.