Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

The Basics:
About Emdashes | Email us

Before it moved to The New Yorker:
Ask the Librarians

Best of Emdashes: Hit Parade
A Web Comic: The Wavy Rule


Close But No Cigar: Bethune Bethune Bethune Bethune Bethune...

Filed under: On the Spot   Tagged: , , , , ,

In this engaging blog interview courtesy of the 92nd St. Y, Judith Thurman discusses good cabbies, bad cabbies, her many New York residences (one was on Bethune St.), Jane Jacobs, the upside of apocalypse, and beastly New York summers. (I disagree on this point—I love NYC when it gets all empty in August.) Thurman is obviously a New Yorker’s New Yorker, a locution that puts me in the mind of “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo,” which I just found out about yesterday and which has been giving me headaches ever since (but the nice kind).

I’m not in town on October 28, but you might be. (I know, you didn’t ask.) Do hasten over to the Upper East Side and have brunch with her at the 92nd St. Y. I’m sure it’ll be a hoot. —Martin Schneider


Martin, how can you have known me for a year or whatever it’s been, and not know that “Buffalo buffalo” is one of my keenest obsessions? Many of my long-suffering friends have heard me rave about it, so I’m thrilled to hear that you’ve sen the bisonic light. The book critic Heller McAlpin introduced me to it (long before Wikipedia) and I have never forgotten what a great and everlastingly satisfying favor she did me on that day.

And I have my own, longer version. The oft-cited sentence is merely the photo caption to a newspaper story, which begins:

BUFFALO - “Buffalo Buffalo buffalo! Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.”

Git it? Daniel Handler came up with a spontaneous, and ridiculous, 20-plus-word one some years ago, but sadly I didn’t write it down.

Yes, it is entrancing. I found about it because I happened to be looking at this Wikipedia page, which links to many other amusing subjects as well.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, it may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Thanks for waiting.)

2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree