[Ads-l] Quote: Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. Request help accessing Harvard Alumni Bulletin in 1963

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sun Sep 24 17:51:11 UTC 2023

On Sun, Sep 24, 2023 at 12:20 PM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:

> Anthony Oettinger made a presentation earlier in Nov. 1963 from which the
> "time flies" example may have been taken, but it doesn't appear in the
> published version of that presentation.
> ---
> https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/1463822.1463864
> Anthony G. Oettinger, "Syntactic Structure and Ambiguity of English."
> AFIPS '63 (Fall): Proceedings of the November 12-14, 1963, Fall Joint
> Computer Conference, pp. 397–418
> ---

Apologies, that paper is properly attributed to Susumu Kuno and Anthony G.

This article suggests Kuno was the one to first report the "time flies"


This later article by Kuno gives the example, but again omits the "banana"

Susumu Kuno, "The predictive analyzer and a path elimination technique"
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 8, Issue 7(July 1965), pp. 453-462.
For example, assume that the input sentence "TIME FLIES LIKE AN ARROW AND
THEY ARE FLYING PLANES." is to be analyzed by a predictive analyzer. The
two clauses in the sentence are triply ambiguous and their ambiguities are
mutually independent.
1. Time passes as quickly as an arrow.
2. A species of flies called "time flies" are fond of an arrow.
3. You shall time the flies which are like an arrow. (or You shall, as
quickly as an arrow, time the flies.)


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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