This is an open ended puzzle of wordplay. Here's an example of acceptable words: reed, read, read, red, etc. They are linked by either different spellings of the same pronunciation (reed and read), or different pronunciations of the same spelling (read, read). Only words in the OED are acceptable.

The puzzle is to create a long sentence using only words from such a pool. Not all words in the pool need to be used, and adjacent words do not need to be linked. Which sentence is the longest?

Answers must start with the proposed sentence in bold, followed by explanations or commentary as desired.

Degenerate approaches are not acceptable. For example, suppose some buffalo are named Buffalo, after the spicy chicken wings. Both of these words are in the OED, including the capitalization of the later, however the city name of Buffalo is not. Now suppose some of their offspring are named Buffalo Buffalo. And suppose some of their offspring are named Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo. This leads to English sentences such as "Buffalo buffalo buffalo.", where the first lowercase word is the verb, to quote the OED, "To overpower, overawe, or constrain by superior force or influence; to outwit, perplex.", and the second lowercase word is the common name of a species of quadrupeds. Similarly, another sentence is: "Buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo.", as is "Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo." And so on. Grammatically simple sentences of any arbitrary length can be formed. Without this exclusion, the puzzle certainly has no ultimate answer.

I'm including the tag 'open-ended' because I suspect the ultimate winning sentence is unknown, though potentially computable someday given an appropriate database to form the pool of words and NLP.


closed as unclear what you're asking by Deusovi, Marius, JonMark Perry, CodeNewbie, Gamow Jun 2 '16 at 7:42

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  • $\begingroup$ Would help to see what the "buffalo x 7 sentence" is. $\endgroup$ – humn Jun 2 '16 at 4:48
  • $\begingroup$ @humn: I edited it in, and then OP rolled it back. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Jun 2 '16 at 7:37

"Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo..." can be extended indefinitely.

The original sentence is roughly:

New York bison that New York bison bully bully New York bison.

With suggestive parentheses:

New York bison (that New York bison bully) bully New York bison.

Now we can see how to add an extra layer: just keep adding another "(that New York bison bully)" inside the parentheses.

New York bison (that New York bison (that New York bison bully) bully) bully New York bison.

And of course, it can be converted back.

Buffalo buffalo (Buffalo buffalo (Buffalo buffalo buffalo) buffalo) buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

It should be obvious how to extend it to $3n+5$ copies of the word "buffalo" for any $n\in\mathbb N$.

Hopefully clearer explanation of how the sentences differ:

enter image description here

Each circle represents a group of bison from New York.

The "base" sentence says "NY bison (1) bully NY bison (2)."

The typical example says "NY bison (1) who are bullied by NY bison (3) also bully NY bison (2)."

My first extension says "NY bison (1) who are bullied by NY bison (3) (but only those who themselves are also bullied by NY bison (4) ) also bully NY bison (2)."

Each extension adds a new circle and arrow under circle 1. It also adds 3 words. These extensions can go on indefinitely, and the rules of English grammar still hold.

  • $\begingroup$ @Jeremy: How so? I've shown that there is no upper bound on sentence length. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Jun 2 '16 at 5:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Jeremy: You asked for the largest sentence that fit your rules. I proved there was not one. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Jun 2 '16 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Jeremy: No. If someone asks you what the biggest number is, it is an answer to say "there isn't a biggest number". And I voted to close as unclear since your idea of a sentence was poorly defined. Now, your idea of a degenerate case is also poorly defined. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Jun 2 '16 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Jeremy: The situation is analogous. If "What's the largest number?" is the question, then "there is none" is an answer. If "What's the largest sentence that fits these constraints?" is the question, then "there is none" is an answer. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Jun 2 '16 at 17:44

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