Is The "Buffalo" Sentence The Craziest In The English Language?

It's hard to believe that "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" could be an actual English sentence, but it's true. The sentence uses the word "buffalo" in three forms: the noun buffalo, which refers to the animal also called bison; the verb buffalo, which, according to Oxford Dictionaries, means "to intimidate;" and the proper noun Buffalo, the city in New York. The sentence is an illustration of how homonyms—words that have the same pronunciation but different meanings—are used in language. It's unclear who first devised the sentence (it's been attributed to a number of different professors including Steven Pinker and William J. Rapoport), but it's commonly used as an example of the amazing power, and complicated nature, of language. To better understand this sentence, you might read it as "The buffalo from Buffalo, who buffalo other buffalo from Buffalo, are buffaloed by buffalo from Buffalo." Or, to put it even more clearly: "The bison in Buffalo, New York, who are intimidated by other bison from Buffalo, New York, in turn intimidate other bison from Buffalo, New York." Dig deeper into this sentence—and learn more about the power of language—below.

Parsing The "Buffalo" Sentence

How could this complicated sentence be grammatically correct? A buffalo by buffalo breakdown.

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Written by Curiosity Staff August 26, 2016

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