Written By: Matthew Sprosty
When asked to be a blog writer for Odd Dog Coffee, the owner, roaster, and (well, you know) all around entrepreneur was pretty clear on what he wanted from my pieces: “Stories about Dogs and stories about Coffee.” I turned around and asked the man, “What about Stories about Odd?” To which, he found the question odd, because I phrased it odd, and then I think we both wondered that if I was such a numbskull with my way with words, should I even be the Odd Dog Coffee blog writer at all?
And he didn’t necessarily agree, so I’m just going to leave this in his email and see if he posts it.
Behold! My first Odd Dog Coffee Odd Blog entry! A little ditty that you can amuse your friends with (or, have them roll their eyes at how you never seem to stop talking about how many useless things you know.) This is how “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” is an actual legitimate, literate, ‘Merican sentence...
First appearing in logologist (study of wordplay and recreational linguistics) Dmitri
Borgmann's Beyond Language: Adventures in Word and Thought back in 1967, Buffalo buffalo, etc. etc. became an example of complex linguistic ambiguity using homophones and homonyms. What does all this mean? It means there are actual people out there that study words and come up with these puzzles to impress people like us at backyard barbecues as we all play Bocce ball.
Here is how to be as cool as them:
If you’re just going to demonstrate this at parties, all you have to remember is to say the word “Buffalo” eight times. Count on your fingers if you have to (nobody judges that anymore.) If you’re going to write it, the first, third, and second-to-last buffalo (buffalo is the plural of buffalo, fyi) are capitalized, as can be seen in the title of this blog.
The word “buffalo” has three different meanings: a pronoun referring to a specific place (such as Buffalo, New York,) a noun, referring to the animal bison, which are called buffalo in America, and/or, the lesser known definition is that buffalo is also a verb meaning “to harass or bully.”
You with me so far? The easiest thing to remember is that every time a Buffalo is capitalized, we are talking about the city in New York.
So, break down the sentence into three different sections. The first section is just talking about bison and where they are from. Buffalo buffalo means “bison from Buffalo.” The next three “Buffalo buffalo buffalo” refers again to bison from Buffalo and this time with a verb meaning bullying or intimidatig. So, “bison from Buffalo who intimidate bison from Buffalo-...” And then we finish it up with “buffalo Buffalo buffalo” meaning “intimidate bison from Buffalo.”
So, in the end, Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo also means Bison from Buffalo who bully bison from Buffalo, are also bullied by bison from Buffalo.
While this may sweep up a win in Scattegories, or only be useful in Buffalo, or when watching a Sunday football game with a Bills fan, when you whip out this doozy, prepare to amaze.