Professor Ernest Brennecke of Columbia is credited with inventing a sentence that can be made to have eight different meanings by placing ONE WORD in all possible positions in the sentence:
"I hit him in the eye yesterday."

The word is "ONLY".


The Message:
1.ONLY I hit him in the eye yesterday. (No one else did.)
2.I ONLY hit him in the eye yesterday. (Did not slap him.)
3.I hit ONLY him in the eye yesterday. (I did not hit others.)
4.I hit him ONLY in the eye yesterday. (I did not hit outside the eye.)
5.I hit him in ONLY the eye yesterday. (Not other organs.)
6.I hit him in the ONLY eye yesterday. (He doesn't have another eye..)
7.I hit him in the eye ONLY yesterday. (Not today.)
8.I hit him in the eye yesterday ONLY. (Did not wait for today.)


This is the beauty and complexity of the English language


24th December 2010 From India, Mumbai

Hi,
You could even get 8 different meanings to the same sentence by laying stress on the different words in the sentence(different voice inflections). Try saying out the sentence below with stress on the different words. :-)
I did not say he stole the money.
I did not say he stole the money.
I did not say he stole the money.
I did not say he stole the money.
I did not say he stole the money.
I did not say he stole the money.
I did not say he stole the money.
I did not say he stole the money.
Cheers,
Rakesh
24th December 2010 From India, Delhi
Hello simmy2009, You are right — English is such a beautiful language — but it depends on the one who beholds it whether it’s simple or complex. Rgds, TS
25th December 2010 From India, Hyderabad
This only goes to show that words have to be used with clarity and words do have specific purposes when used in aprticular way. Understand and use right word at the right time. JR Kumar
25th December 2010 From India, Hyderabad
Thanks Simmy!
Couple of things to share.
Late Mr C N Annadurai, ex-CM of Tamil Nadu is known for his profieciency of Tamil Literature. Once he was tested for his English knowledge in the US. He was asked to tell 100 words without the first four english alphabets.(viz., a,b,c,d,). Without any hesitation he came with the answer. Can you guess the words? Count from "Zero to Ninety Nine", you will have the answer.
Another occassion he was asked to use the word "because" continuously three times. In a flash he replied," A sentence cannot start with because, because,because is a conjunction".
Have a wonderful weekend and a great New Year eve!
BSR
25th December 2010 From India, Bangalore
Dear All.
English as you read the sentence,"I hit him in the eye yesterday" is very enchanting. Such sentences can be pooled into one small book and read by the beginners of the language , who only have limited meanings and usages of each sentence and phrase. No one will be surprised, if a beginner learning the language asked,' How a child can kick the bucket? taking the literal meanings of the words used.
Ramachandran
26th December 2010 From India, Madras
Good ones....!!
I particularly enjoyed Rakesh's sentence which was more about giving stress at different places in the SAME sentence - which is more tricky than the original thread where we move the "only" at different places.
Quite thought provoking as you never appreciate the true meaning when you read it; makes sense only when some one verbally uses it and more importantly when we are keen enough to observe the "stress"....isn't it ??
27th December 2010 From India, Madras
Hi All,
Try this one out too
He stole my cow (Noone else but HE stole it)
He stole my cow (He didn't ask for it but preferred to steal it)
He stole my cow (He chose to steal my cow not the one that belonged to someone else)
He stole my cow ( I had an Ox, Sheep and a cow but he chose to steal my dearest cow ;) )
Regards
Mervyn
27th December 2010 From India, Mumbai
Dear Bala, Correctly opined. Though I thought it is long known. And this could be true with almost any language. regards Navin
27th December 2010 From India, Mumbai
Dear Members
Thanks for your words of wisdom and sharing your remarkable ideas and comments.
Here's some interesting facts about language-
"Almost" is the longest word in the English language with all the letters in alphabetical order.
There are only 4 words in the English language which end in "duos": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.
The Chinese language does not require punctuation.
Rudyard Kipling was fired as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. His dismissal letter was reported to have said, "I'm sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don't know how to use the English language. This isn't a kindergarten for amateur writers."
"Four" is the only number whose number of letters in the name equals the number.
27th December 2010 From India, Mumbai
 

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