Friday, June 24, 2011

The Beauty and Complexity of English

Professor Ernest Brennecke of Columbia is credited with inventing a sentence that can be made to have eight different meanings by placing ONE WORD in all possible positions in the sentence:

"I hit him in the eye yesterday."

The word is "ONLY".

The Message:
  1. ONLY I hit him in the eye yesterday. (No one else did.)
  2. I ONLY hit him in the eye yesterday. (Did not slap him.)
  3. I hit ONLY him in the eye yesterday. (I did not hit others.)
  4. I hit him ONLY in the eye yesterday. (I did not hit outside the eye.)
  5. I hit him in ONLY the eye yesterday. (Not other organs.)
  6. I hit him in the ONLY eye yesterday. (He doesn't have another eye..)
  7. I hit him in the eye ONLY yesterday. (Not today.)
  8. I hit him in the eye yesterday ONLY. (Did not wait for today.)

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