Trent Reznor Prize nominee

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Today's nomination for the Trent Reznor Prize for Tricky Embedding:

Other examples here.

[h/t Ben Zimmer]


  1. Gregory Kusnick said,

    September 24, 2018 @ 1:05 pm

    199 people are talking about this, but how many people are talking about the people the people talking about this are talking about?

    [(myl) At least two. And now we can start counting how many people the people the people talking about this are talking about are talking about. I think.]

  2. Annie Gottlieb said,

    September 24, 2018 @ 1:43 pm


  3. rosie said,

    September 24, 2018 @ 3:04 pm

    So, "your friend's friend might be your enemy", then?

  4. Jerry Packard said,

    September 24, 2018 @ 4:29 pm

    That that that is is not that that is not is not that that that is not is not that that is.

    Not really that difficult embedding-wise, but I think it is the negatives that somehow make it seem so.

  5. Daniel Barkalow said,

    September 24, 2018 @ 5:00 pm

    It's a good thing you don't have to worry about whether it's safe to believe the people the people the people you believe are smart believe are smart believe are smart are smart, since you can just believe the people the people you believe are smart believe are smart are smart first, and then the people the people the people you believe are smart believe are smart believe are smart are just more people the people you believe are smart believe are smart.

  6. Rebecca said,

    September 24, 2018 @ 6:32 pm

    I don’t like this nomination as much as I like the ones that just seemed to fall into it without trying.

  7. JPL said,

    September 24, 2018 @ 8:59 pm

    @ Rebecca:

    E.g., the China Mieville example from a couple of years ago displayed an intriguing involution of thought probably not more effectively expressible, at least in that context, in any other way. I'll bet there were only minor adjustments in the evolution of that sentence: a worthy example, I would say. I agree, I think the best ones are found objects.

  8. Rick Bryan said,

    September 25, 2018 @ 10:58 am

    Maybe it is all too well known to the paleocheirs here, but I'm always tickled by this SpecGram post:

    New speech disorder linguists contracted discovered!

    An apparently new speech disorder a linguistics department our correspondent visited was affected by has appeared. Those affected our correspondent a local grad student called could hardly understand apparently still speak fluently. The cause experts the LSA sent investigate remains elusive. Frighteningly, linguists linguists linguists sent examined are highly contagious. Physicians neurologists psychologists other linguists called for help called for help called for help didn’t help either. The disorder experts reporters SpecGram sent consulted investigated apparently is a case of pathological center embedding.

  9. Viseguy said,

    September 25, 2018 @ 8:59 pm

    O, give me a home where the buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo roam….

  10. Robert Coren said,

    September 27, 2018 @ 9:58 am

    Sometimes I wish that English had not evolved in such a way as to make (some instances of) relative-clause-introducing "that" optional.

  11. Robledo said,

    September 27, 2018 @ 1:00 pm

    Works perfectly in German:

    Man kann ohne Weiteres die Leute, die die Leute, die man für klug hält, für klug halten, für klug halten, aber man kann nicht ohne Weiteres den Leuten, denen die Leute, denen man vertraut, vertrauen, vertrauen.

  12. Robert Coren said,

    September 29, 2018 @ 10:11 am

    @Robledo: Those commas can be really helpful.

  13. Andrew Usher said,

    October 1, 2018 @ 7:49 pm

    I would rather call the extra commas redundant and distracting. I don't know why German must be written in that way, which can practically hide where the actual clause boundaries are under that blizzard of unpronounced commas. (I think the German would be read like the English, with just the one comma – at least to me.)

    Also I'm not so sure that the first part of Paul Graham's statement really is truer than the second part; even if one knew their _honest_ beliefs about who is smart, so high is the human capacity for self-delusion of various sorts.

    k_over_hbarc at

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