Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I found this example in Wikipedia, but it's only 6 words long:

I didn't take the test yesterday. (Somebody else did.)
I didn't take the test yesterday. (I did not take it.)
I didn't take the test yesterday. (I did something else with it.)
I didn't take the test yesterday. (I took a different one.)
I didn't take the test yesterday. (I took something else.)
I didn't take the test yesterday. (I took it some other day.)

What's the longest reasonable simple sentence (not a compound or complex sentence using extra clauses or conjunctions just to create length) where stressing every separate word creates different meanings? Here's a few simple substitutions that gets me 11 words:

My youngest student didn't repeatedly take the oral test last week. (Yours did.)
My youngest student didn't repeatedly take the oral test last week. (My oldest did.)
My youngest student didn't repeatedly take the oral test last week. (A teacher did.)
My youngest student didn't repeatedly take the oral test last week. (He indeed didn't.)
My youngest student didn't repeatedly take the oral test last week. (He took it once.)
My youngest student didn't repeatedly take the oral test last week. (He did something else.)
My youngest student didn't repeatedly take the oral test last week. (He took a different one.)
My youngest student didn't repeatedly take the oral test last week. (He took the written test.)
My youngest student didn't repeatedly take the oral test last week. (He took something else.)
My youngest student didn't repeatedly take the oral test last week. (It was another week.)
My youngest student didn't repeatedly take the oral test last week. (It was last month.)

(Although adding the adjectives "youngest" and "oral" are weak solutions, since "youngest student" and "youngest student" stress different meanings but still refer to some kind of person and "the oral test" and "the oral test" stress different meanings but still refer to some kind of test. Similarly, adding the adverb "repeatedly" is a weak solution, since it still refers to taking of some kind.)

In any case, is there a good and significantly longer example?

share|improve this question

closed as not constructive by simchona, waiwai933 Dec 21 '11 at 6:26

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Hm... I feel like I should be flagging this, but I don't know why. –  Mahnax Dec 21 '11 at 5:56
    
@Mahnax: There is no "right" answer, so I voted to close as not constructive. –  simchona Dec 21 '11 at 6:12
    
@simchona A wise decision. –  Mahnax Dec 21 '11 at 6:12

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.