"Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo"

The sentence above is an actual sentence which makes perfect sense and is not wrong.
The word "Buffalo" has three meanings:

1) The City of Buffalo, New York
2) To buffalo (verb) to bully/intimidate
3) The animal Buffalo/bison

Can you explain what this sentence means?

  • 20
    $\begingroup$ It means "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo". Correct? $\endgroup$
    – nicael
    Oct 6 '14 at 13:25
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Given that any sequence of buffalos is grammatically correct there's a follow up question: What does buffalo repeated n times mean? (I mean for each n natural number) and more interesting, what's the meaning of an infinite sequence of buffalos? $\endgroup$
    – Bakuriu
    Oct 6 '14 at 17:14
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Am I wrong, or is the sentence meaningless without 2 commas? "Buffalo buffalo, Buffalo buffalo buffalo, buffalo Buffalo buffalo." Without those, it's not a proper sentence, is it? $\endgroup$
    – mbm29414
    Oct 6 '14 at 22:07
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Now count the number of consecutive "and" here (though the sentence does not consist only of "and"s) $\endgroup$ Oct 7 '14 at 10:41
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it isn't really a puzzle, just an "explain this" question $\endgroup$ May 19 '15 at 14:43

Basically, it's "buffalo who reside in Buffalo, NY that bully other buffalo that also live there, also bully themselves."

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Shouldn't it be "buffalo who reside in Buffalo, NY, who have been bullied by other buffalo who also live there, also themselves bully"? Otherwise, you're just saying "x and y implies y" which isn't that strong of a statement. $\endgroup$
    – wchargin
    Oct 6 '14 at 14:31
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Not sure if the strength of the statement is what's in question here. It's a ridiculous sentence to begin with. $\endgroup$ Oct 6 '14 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ right, poorly phrased on my part…but I hope you take my meaning $\endgroup$
    – wchargin
    Oct 6 '14 at 14:37
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think this answer is quite right - the puzzle says nothing about bison bullying themselves, only that they bully bison (probably other bison). $\endgroup$ Oct 6 '14 at 18:03
  • $\begingroup$ This isn't as accurate as the answer below. $\endgroup$
    – Luke
    May 19 '15 at 12:56

Wikipedia has a nice article on this.

Buffalo buffalo (buffalo from Buffalo NY) [that] Buffalo buffalo buffalo (that the buffalo from Buffalo NY bully) buffalo Buffalo buffalo (are bullying buffalo from Buffalo NY).

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Best answer by far. $\endgroup$
    – nicael
    Oct 6 '14 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeZ. B and b are different graphs, though, and audio is not the same as spelling. $\endgroup$ Oct 7 '14 at 8:51
  • $\begingroup$ They represent the same letter with different capitalization, though. Is that really enough to distinguish them as graphemes? $\endgroup$
    – user88
    Oct 7 '14 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ (And I must correct myself; they are actually homophones, but they are also homographs.) $\endgroup$
    – user88
    Oct 7 '14 at 16:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JoeZ. Then how could they impart different meaning? $\endgroup$ Oct 7 '14 at 17:46

Let's replace the place with New York
Let's replace the verb with bully
Let's keep the animal as buffalo


Buffalo   buffalo  (that)  Buffalo   buffalo  buffalo  (also)  buffalo  Buffalo   buffalo.


New York  buffalo  (that)  New York  buffalo  bully    (also)  bully    New York  buffalo.
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I don't understand how the sentence can stand without "that" and "also" being explicitly in the sentence. I understand it with them there, but as soon as they are removed, the sentence becomes nonsense to me. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Oct 8 '14 at 3:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Michael Produce (that) farmers sell tends to be fresh. $\endgroup$
    – Taemyr
    Oct 8 '14 at 7:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This answer explains it best, thank you! $\endgroup$ Nov 5 '14 at 4:14

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