Q: What is a sentence with the same word several times repeated? Do not use quotation marks, proper names, a language other than English, or anything else distasteful.

A:

There is a common misconception that surrounds this problem, namely,

that the sentence
Jill, where Jack had had "had," had had "had had."

has seven "had"'s in a row. The misconception lies in not recognizing the difference between using a word and mentioning a word. When a word is used in a sentence, it is not quoted; when it is mentioned, it is quoted. The quoted word "'had'" is not the same as the unquoted word "had." Therefore, this sentence has no more than two repeats of any word.

The most satisfying case of repeated words occurs when the repeated words all mean different things in the sentence. An example of unsatisfactory repetition is intensifying an adjective or adverb by

simply repeating it over and over
The coffee was very very very very very ... very hot.

Even though the word "very" occurs arbitrarily many times, it means the same in each case. A sentence can be constructed that has a noun repeated arbitrarily many times, followed by a verb repeated the same

number of times

1. Bulldogs fight 2. Bulldogs bulldogs fight fight.

(i.e., bulldogs (that) bulldogs fight, (themselves) fight)

3. Bulldogs bulldogs bulldogs fight fight fight.

(i.e., bulldogs (that) bulldogs (that) bulldogs fight, (themselves) fight, (themselves) fight) ...

The inflation of this type of sentence can be accelerated by the use of

the three senses of the word "buffalo"
1. oxen (noun) 2. baffle (verb) 3. from a city in Western New York (adjective, usually capitalized)
The progression becomes

1. Buffalo buffalo buffalo.

(i.e., Buffalo (from the city of) Buffalo baffle.)

2. Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.

(i.e., Buffalo (from the city of) Buffalo (that) buffalo (from the city of) Buffalo baffle, (themselves) baffle.)

3. Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.

(i.e., Buffalo (from the city of) Buffalo (that) Buffalo (from the city of) Buffalo (that) Buffalo (from the city of) Buffalo baffle, (themselves) baffle, (themselves) baffle.) ...

This sentence will have an adjective-noun pair repeated arbitarily many times, then a verb repeated the same number of times. So the word "buffalo" really only has three meanings in the sentence.

A progression using the pronoun, conjunction and adjective meanings of the word "that" was composed by George Herbert Moberly in the 1850s.

1. I saw that C saw.

(i.e., I saw the following: C saw.)

2. C saw that that I saw.

(i.e., C saw the thing which I saw)

3. I saw that that that C saw was so.

(i.e., I saw the following: the thing which C saw was so.)

4. C saw that, that that that I saw was so.

(i.e., C saw this fact, the following: the thing which I saw was so.)

5. I saw that, that that that that C saw was so.

(i.e., I saw this fact, the following: the specific thing which C saw was so.)

6. C saw that that, that that that that I saw was so.

(i.e., C saw the specific thing, the following: the specific thing which I saw was so.)

7. I saw that that, that that that that that C saw was so.

(i.e., I saw the specific fact, the following: the specific thing which the specific C saw was so.)

In the final statement, the first, fourth and seventh "that"'s are adjectives meaning "specific," the second and fifth are pronouns, and the third and sixth are conjunctions. Thus there are seven uses but only three meanings.

Here is an example with five "had"'s in a row, each with a different meaning. This is the longest known case of this phenomenon. As an aid to understanding, we'll build it up a step at a time.

The parents were unable to conceive, so they hired someone else to

be a surrogate.

The parents had had a surrogate have their child.

The parents had had their child had.

The child had had no breakfast.

The child the parents had had had had had no breakfast.

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