Yo dawg, I heard you like linguistics...

Posted: 2010-10-10 16:15   |  More posts about linguistics oddities poetry words

Came across this amusing Inception / Yo Dawg meme face-off the other day on reddit. It led me back to one of my favourite linguistic peculiarities, the sentence "Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo." Its Wikipedia page seems to have been updated since the last time I had a look at it, as there are a few other interesting linguistic cases linked, none of which I'd come across before. I especially enjoyed the sentence "James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher". And then I stumbled across this old Chinese poem, "The Lion-eating Poet in the Snow Den":

The text, although written in Classical Chinese, can be easily comprehended by most educated readers. However, changes in pronunciation over 2,500 years resulted in a large degree of homophony in Classical Chinese, so the poem becomes completely incomprehensible when spoken out in Standard Mandarin or when written romanized in Standard Mandarin.

Pretty remarkable. Its Wikipedia page, linked above, is rather detailed and well worth a read.

Here's a video of the poem being read aloud in Standard Mandarin:

More: A List of Linguistics Example Sentences

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