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April 1, 2000

Word Games

What Do You Expect From a Writer?

HOW MANY HADS?

Many computer programs have delusions of being smarter than they are. One of the my spell checker's irritating examples is its flagging of any word that it finds repeated, which is often intentional and correct. An instance is with many uses of the word "had," where "had had" is required by the intended tense. Commenting on this led a friend and me into one of those contests to see who could compose a valid sentence containing the greatest number of successive "hads." I finally came up with one containing eleven, which when properly punctuated makes perfect sense:

In the English language test, Smith, where Jones had had "had," had had "had had"; "had had" had had the approval of the examiners.

Anybody got a better one?

(And yes, my spell checker just threw a fit when I typed it.)

Note Added May 15, 2000

Okay, somebody outdid me. Aristotle Jones sent me the following (with 12 "hads," to save you counting), which he got from Max and her dad, Ron Read, in BC, Canada.

"John, where James had had 'HAD HAD', had had 'had had'. 'HAD HAD' had had the editor's approval."

Note Added August 10, 2002

And then I got this from Scott Ryan, which weighs in at 41.

"Aristotle Jones, where you had had , had had had had'. 'HAD HAD' had had>; had had'. 'HAD HAD' had had> had had a temporary victory until I wrote to you."

This could obviously be extended indefinitely until every particle in the universe was pressed into service to encode them ("hadrons"?) The whole nonsense is therefore, hereby, formally closed.

 
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