Saturday, August 16, 2008

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

Got it? Don't get it? That is a grammatically correct sentence.

According to Wikipedia, it is...
used as an example of how homonyms and homophones can be used to create complicated constructs. It has been discussed in literature since 1972 when the sentence was used by William J. Rapaport, currently an associate professor at the University at Buffalo.[1] It was posted to Linguist List by Rapaport in 1992.[2] It was also featured in Steven Pinker's 1994 book The Language Instinct. Sentences of this type, although not in such a refined form, have been known for a long time. A classic example is the proverb "Don't trouble trouble until trouble troubles you".
The sentence is unpunctuated and uses three different readings of the word "buffalo". In order of their first use, these are

* c. The city of Buffalo, New York (or any other place named "Buffalo"), which is used as an adjective in the sentence and is followed by the animal;
* a. The animal buffalo, in the plural (equivalent to "buffaloes" or "buffalos"), in order to avoid articles (a noun);
* v. The verb "buffalo" meaning to bully, confuse, deceive, or intimidate.

Marking each "buffalo" with its use as shown above gives

Buffalo(c) buffalo(a) Buffalo(c) buffalo(a) buffalo(v) buffalo(v) Buffalo(c) buffalo(a).
Got it now?
Can Charity Prevail on the Internet?

Some good points by Deal Hudson at
So why are people on the Internet so... rude? Studies and surveys have confirmed that Internet use does make people act uncharitably who normally would not. The impact of digital technology has created so many new ways of communicating that it has fostered an atmosphere of freedom without responsibility.
This is precisely why there are a host of blogs I have never linked to, and why I stay far away from Catholic blogs that have devolved into little more than a sort of tabloid, focused more on airing dirty laundry and snarky criticism with very little reflection -- not only because I disagree with the content and its presentation, but also because those blogs bring out the rudest comments from people. And I know from experience, rude comments only instigate more rude comments.

A gesture of thanks to Elena Maria Vidal for the link.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Reflections on the Assumption

The general teaching concerning what happened to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the end of her earthly life is something we share largely with the churches of the East. That fact is certainly something worth celebrating. Yet, given the right motivation, it can also be used to divide.

I recall one instance at World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto. Having been acquainted with a few Eastern (Byzantine) Catholics from back home, I decided to spend some time with a large group of Byzantines, which consisted primarily of Ukrainian Catholics, Maronite Catholics, and a few others. I was more familiar with Ruthenian Catholics from back home.

I managed to drag along the two other members of my group with me for a day in the East. After one of the presentations, I got into an intense conversation with a Maronite Catholic young adult about potential reunion between Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox. I wanted to get an Eastern point of view on the subject. We discussed a number of perceived obstacles which included, naturally, the Western articulation of the Immaculate Conception as well as papal infallibility. He was very optimistic at the prospect of reunion, but as we talked, I could sense a subtle tension building in our conversation. He became defensive, perceiving our discussion almost as some sort of imposition, which I found odd... (I don't think I'm an imposing person, and the venue lent itself to the discussion -- it's what the presentation was about).

The discussion turned to the Assumption (or Dormition) as it was observed in the East and the West, and of course, he pointed out the fact that Eastern Christians (Catholics and Orthodox) had professed the belief for centuries. He then argued, with much animosity, that the East had observed it better than the West. He was resentful at the fact that in formally defining the belief as dogma, the West had laid claim to a belief that it received from the East. While he was saying this, I was questioning where this was going and whether this point was really important. At that, a girl behind me spoke up and told me directly, "The West stole it from the East."

Wow -- I was absolutely offended that a such a profound teaching, held in common by everyone (remember, we were all Catholics here), was being used in such a divisive manner, as if to say, "Look, we're more ancient, more pious, more rooted in the ancient teachings than you pretend to be." But centuries of latinization can do that. However ignorant or uncharitable this girl may have been, she was revealing something very real about what reunion between the East and West should mean, and what it can't mean.

And that was only the beginning of my day with the Byzantines. I heard a number of other things that day that I found very challenging, but in general, it was beneficial for me, and has changed the way I think about reunion. It has made me more dedicated to the prospect as well as the need for healing. That is why reunion must happen, but it cannot be rushed.
Mary, New Eve, Cause of Salvation

St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons (2nd century), from Against Heresies, Book III, Ch. 22:
In accordance with this design, Mary the Virgin is found obedient, saying, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." But Eve was disobedient; for she did not obey when as yet she was a virgin. And even as she, having indeed a husband, Adam, but being nevertheless as yet a virgin (for in Paradise "they were both naked, and were not ashamed," inasmuch as they, having been created a short time previously, had no understanding of the procreation of children: for it was necessary that they should first come to adult age, and then multiply from that time onward), having become disobedient, was made the cause of death, both to herself and to the entire human race; so also did Mary, having a man betrothed [to her], and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race. And on this account does the law term a woman betrothed to a man, the wife of him who had betrothed her, although she was as yet a virgin; thus indicating the back-reference from Mary to Eve, because what is joined together could not otherwise be put asunder than by inversion of the process by which these bonds of union had arisen; so that the former ties be cancelled by the latter, that the latter may set the former again at liberty...

And thus also it was that the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith.
Have a blessed Solemnity of the Assumption!
Ave, Regina caelorum,
Ave, Domina Angelorum:
Salve, radix, salve, porta
Ex qua mundo lux est orta:

Gaude, Virgo gloriosa,
Super omnes speciosa,
Vale, o valde decora,
Et pro nobis Christum exora.


Related Posts with Thumbnails