Buffalo shit

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The last two panels of today's SMBC:

For background, see "Buffaloing buffalo", 1/20/2005.

The whole thing:

The mouseover title: "Credit to McWhorter's 'Nine Nasty Words' for inspiring this. I hasten to note, Patreon subscribers have determined that a 9-shit variation is possible."

The aftercomic:

And see also "And21", 5/24/2010.


  1. Cervantes said,

    May 15, 2021 @ 9:10 am

    Fish fish fish fish fish fish.

    Can't be extended like buffalo however because it doesn't have an adjectival sense.

    The problem with the shit version is that the intended meaning is inscrutable.

    [(myl) Clearly there's more than one way to parse shitn, but for some reason, all of them seem to require pencil-and-paper-level scrutiny.

    And as for fishn, note that the buffalon construction doesn't actually involve any adjectives — the core is just

    buffaloN [ (that) buffaloN buffaloV ] buffaloV buffaloN


  2. Cervantes said,

    May 15, 2021 @ 9:48 am

    I should clarify that fish does have an adjectival sense but it can't be used to modify fish, unlike the hypothetical Buffalo buffalo.

  3. Cervantes said,

    May 15, 2021 @ 10:22 am

    Yes, the adjectival sense of Buffalo isn't necessary but it allows for more recursion. The original proposition was that there is a kind of buffalo associated with the city of Buffalo, that gives you an extra shot.

  4. DBMG said,

    May 15, 2021 @ 10:25 am

    Felt felt felt felt Felt felt felt felt Felt felt felt felt felt Felt felt felt felt…

  5. Kevin McNulty said,

    May 15, 2021 @ 10:52 am

    @cervantes. Unless you accept that there are degrees of fishiness–in which case you might ask, "You mean just fish, or *fish fish?" LIke Whoopi Goldberg's infamous distinction between (ugh) rape and "rape rape."

  6. Mark Metcalf said,

    May 15, 2021 @ 11:11 am

    On a related note: « Shī Shì shí shī shǐ »
    A reading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jtiw721RAg

    « Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den »
    In a stone den was a poet called Shi Shi, who was a lion addict, and had resolved to eat ten lions.
    He often went to the market to look for lions.
    At ten o’clock, ten lions had just arrived at the market.
    At that time, Shi had just arrived at the market.
    He saw those ten lions, and using his trusty arrows, caused the ten lions to die.
    He brought the corpses of the ten lions to the stone den.
    The stone den was damp. He asked his servants to wipe it.
    After the stone den was wiped, he tried to eat those ten lions.
    When he ate, he realized that these ten lions were in fact ten stone lion corpses.
    Try to explain this matter.

    Pinyin pronunciation:
    « Shī Shì shí shī shǐ »
    Shíshì shīshì Shī Shì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī.
    Shì shíshí shì shì shì shī.
    Shí shí, shì shí shī shì shì.
    Shì shí, shì Shī Shì shì shì.
    Shì shì shì shí shī, shì shǐ shì, shǐ shì shí shī shìshì.
    Shì shí shì shí shī shī, shì shíshì.
    Shíshì shī, Shì shǐ shì shì shíshì.
    Shíshì shì, Shì shǐ shì shí shì shí shī.
    Shí shí, shǐ shí shì shí shī shī, shí shí shí shī shī.
    Shì shì shì shì.

    Traditional characters:


  7. Lance said,

    May 15, 2021 @ 11:44 am

    The thing about the comic is that if you leave the man's dialogue the same and change the woman's dialogue, you'd get the exact conversation I had multiple times about my *actual* thesis.

  8. J.W. Brewer said,

    May 15, 2021 @ 12:13 pm

    The versatility of the referent has, however, been overstated in the ethnographic literature, as demonstrated by one of the great scientific papers of the last few years: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352409X19305371

  9. David Marjanović said,

    May 15, 2021 @ 12:20 pm

    Oh dear. That paper is in open access.

    buffaloN [ (that) buffaloN buffaloV ] buffaloV buffaloN

    Buffalo (NY) buffaloN [ (that) Buffalo (NY) buffaloN buffaloV ] buffaloV Buffalo (NY) buffaloN.

  10. Terry K. said,

    May 15, 2021 @ 1:31 pm

    I wouldn't call it an "adjectival" sense of Buffalo. I'd call it a noun used as a modifier. Specifically a place name (thus the capital letter).

  11. john burke said,

    May 15, 2021 @ 3:56 pm

    Tune: "I Feel Pretty" (from "West Side Story")

    I write theses
    About feces
    And it greases my way up the line

    –around the Berkeley Free Speech movement, 1964, authorship unknown to me, further lines (if they exist) unknown to me

  12. ktschwarz said,

    May 15, 2021 @ 7:46 pm

    As John Lawler would tell us: "Shit, shit shit shit shit shit shit" is only inscrutable *in writing*. It would be a lot more comprehensible with speech intonations. The comma gives away that the first "Shit" is an exclamation, but there's no help with the rest. No doubt that's part of the joke: the characters understand the speech bubble, but the reader flounders.

  13. Tom Dawkes said,

    May 16, 2021 @ 6:19 am

    Compare Anthony Burgess’s anecdote:
    “I once heard an army motor mechanic complain of his recalcitrant engine by crying ‘Fuck it, the fucking fucker’s fucking fucked.’ There you have the word used as five distinct parts of speech.” See https://www.anthonyburgess.org/blog-posts/anthony-burgess-on-low-life-language/

  14. Will Thomas said,

    May 16, 2021 @ 12:59 pm

    A porpoise isn't a fish fish, it only looks like one.

  15. David Marjanović said,

    May 17, 2021 @ 12:04 pm

    Try to explain this matter.

    Admittedly, that text is contrived; for example, it uses 是 shì in both its modern sense ("is") and its very-Classical-indeed sense ("this") as needed.

  16. Martha said,

    May 17, 2021 @ 12:26 pm

    What is "shit-shit" (with the hyphen)?

  17. Jim Drew said,

    May 18, 2021 @ 5:17 pm

    I'm reminded of "The smurf that smurfed smurf."

  18. Jim Drew said,

    May 18, 2021 @ 5:17 pm

    I'm reminded of "The smurf that smurfed smurf."

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