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Thread: James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect...

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    Member Aurast's Avatar
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    James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect...

    Fascinating

    "James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher" is an English sentence used to demonstrate lexical ambiguity and the necessity of punctuation, which serves as a substitute for the intonation, stress, and pauses found in human speech. In human information processing research, the sentence has been used to show how readers depend on punctuation to give sentences meaning, especially in the context of scanning across lines of text. The sentence is sometimes presented as a puzzle, where the solver must add the punctuation.

    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.

    In each of the five "had had" word pairs in the above sentence, the first of the pair is in the past perfect form. The italicized instances denote emphasis of intonation, focusing on the differences in the students' answers, then finally identifying the correct one.

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    You can play similar games with 'that'--the biggest difference being that you can string a more indefinite number of 'that's together.
    Most of time, when people ask why something terrible happened, they don't realize they are looking for someone to blame.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

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    In it to win it 99Problems's Avatar
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    The membership quit reading this thread when it had had enough of had hads.

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Are you saying that had had had had had had had had had had had has had a deleterious effect on the reader?
    Most of time, when people ask why something terrible happened, they don't realize they are looking for someone to blame.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

  5. #5
    In it to win it 99Problems's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    Are you saying that had had had had had had had had had had had has had a deleterious effect on the reader?
    I am saying that that is what I think.

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    I think that that that that you think it was was--well, what it is is that that that you thought it was.
    Most of time, when people ask why something terrible happened, they don't realize they are looking for someone to blame.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

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    Now we know... Asteroids Champion ACow's Avatar
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