Buffalo buffalo

Let’s talk about this sentence for a moment:

Buffalo buffalo, buffalo, buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Despite the fact that this sentence has a vocabulary of one word — “Buffalo”, in case you missed it — this sentence is a grammatically correct, complete, and pedantic sentence. It works because the word “buffalo” can have several different meanings, and can serve in two different modes without even changing the spelling. A buffalo is an animal, of course, but the word “buffalo” can also be a verb: to “buffalo” someone is to puzzle, baffle, or confuse them. The plural of buffalo is buffalo. And, of course, Buffalo is a city in New York.

Therefore, this sentence means that buffalo from Buffalo buffalo buffalo from Buffalo. Or to parse it out even further:

Buffalo buffalo — i.e., buffalo from Buffalo

,buffalo, — i.e., the buffalo from Buffalo are called buffalo

buffalo — verb, to puzzle, mystify, or confuse

Buffalo buffalo — the buffalo from Buffalo.

You can also read this sentence as:

Buffalo from buffalo, which are called buffalo, puzzle, mystify, or confuse buffalo from Bufflo.

But isn’t it just more fun to say “Buffalo buffalo, buffalo, buffalo Buffalo buffalo”?

So, as you see, the sentence is a perfectly sensible sentence. Of course, I also wanted to come up with some dialogue that consisted only of the word “buffalo”. This is what I came up with:

“Buffalo buffalo –”


“Buffalo. Buffalo buffalo, buffalo…”

“Buffalo buffalo?”

“Buffalo! Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.”

“Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo?”

“Buffalo buffalo, buffalo, buffalo Buffalo buffalo.”

“Buffalo buffalo?”


Works for me.

Sebastian: September 1991 to August 2009

Yesterday afternoon, we had to put our beloved cat Sebastian to sleep. He was eighteen years old, and was in the early stages of kidney failure; but in addition to the kidney issues he was anemic, which probably indicated that there was something more dire going on. He had stopped eating beyond a minimal amount of the special food that we prepared for him, and was losing weight. He was having trouble walking, and had taken to hiding in the closet when he wasn’t trying to eat; and we know from experience that when a cat hides in the closet, it is never a good sign. We took him to the vet yesterday to have him looked at one more time, and the vet told us that his prognosis was guarded at best, and definitely not good. We asked the vet what he would do if Sebastian were his cat, and the vet told us he would consider putting the cat to sleep. So that’s what we did. It was either that, or let him slowly and painfully starve to death.

Sebastian was a friendly cat. When I first met him a few years ago, just after Jennifer and I started dating, he clambered on my lap and crawled all over me, rubbing his face on my chin and so on. He liked strangers and would always investigate new people when they came by. Of course, once he got to know someone, he would become aloof to them.

But what really distinguished Sebastian from other cats was his vocalizations. For a cat, he had very impressive lungs, and would frequently wander around the house, yelling. He did this mostly while we were watching television, or when we had guests over for a party or to play a role-playing game. He was also adept at finding the best places in the house for the best acoustics, whether it was at the bottom of the stairs yelling upwards or yelling into the drain in the bathtub. Sometimes his yelling was loud enough for the neighbors to hear, though fortunately no one ever complained. Jennifer and I used to joke that he was part foghorn.

In his prime, Sebastian was a big cat, weighing upwards of seventeen pounds, and quite muscular. Though he was definitely a mama’s boy and hung out mostly with Jennifer there were times when he deigned to let me carry him around, though he would start to struggle after a few moments. And as an all white cat, of course, he shed everywhere. Sometimes, even after we’d brushed as much of his fur off of us as possible, people would still ask us in public if we owned a white cat.

So overall he was a good cat. Silly, loud, and friendly. Jennifer held him as he died, which he did quietly and without any yelling.

So long, big noisy cat. We’ll miss you terribly.