Category Archives: Language

This is why punctuation is important

An unfortunate video from BBC News demonstrates the importance of full stops.

Need a proofreader?

Keyword Stuffing, Video Style

Thanks to this post from Convince and Convert, I’ve discovered a video that made me laugh like a drain.

If you ever wondered what the outdated practice of keyword stuffing would look like in video form, Mike can show you here and now.

I get the distinct impression that he buys golf clubs. Legend.

Yorkshire regional accents

English: A map of the metropolitan county of S...

English: A map of the metropolitan county of South Yorkshire, England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having grown up in Lancashire, then moved to Yorkshire at 18, my accent is a strange mixture of both sides of the north, often combined with a slight twang of whoever I happen to be talking to. To have a good listen to what I sound like, you can listen to some of our podcasts!

I do have a fascination with regional accents, not least because we have such a wide range of them in the UK. This video is a lovely snippet of Ian McMillen – a delightful poet from Barnsley – explaining the different accents within Yorkshire to Stephen Fry, highly adored national treasure.

It is followed by a video of a young girl with a broad Yorkshire accent – it is an adorable snapshot of how some people sound in this part of the world.

I originally saw this after Ian tweeted it, and it was on the Dalesman website.

James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher

I love linguistic quirks, so when my friend AJ posted about this sentence on Facebook, I had to investigate.

It turns out that, “James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher” is a valid sentence, and an example of lexical ambiguity. With a bit of explanation, punctuation and emphasis it does actually make sense.

Wikipedia explains it as follows,

The example refers to two students, James and John, who are required by an English test to describe a man who, in the past, had suffered from a cold. John writes “The man had a cold” which the teacher marks as being incorrect, while James writes the correct “The man had had a cold.” Since James’ answer was right, it had had a better effect on the teacher.

The sentence can be understood more clearly by adding punctuation and emphasis:

James, while John had had “had”, had had “had had”; “had had” had had a better effect on the teacher.

There is a similar example that I was already familiar with, “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo”. Wikipedia summarises this one pretty well too:

“The sentence’s intended meaning becomes clearer when it’s understood that it uses the city of Buffalo, New York and the somewhat-uncommon verb “to buffalo” (meaning “to bully or intimidate”), and when the punctuation and grammar is expanded so that the sentence reads as follows: “Buffalo buffalo that Buffalo buffalo buffalo, buffalo Buffalo buffalo.” The meaning becomes even clearer when synonyms are used: “Buffalo-origin bison that other Buffalo bison intimidate, themselves bully Buffalo bison.””

If you’re still unclear, there’s a useful video that explains the phenomenon, and the first example, well.