Can I get an example of statement that can be said to be Hofstadterian? Also please provide a small comment with the statement if possible. thankyou.

3 Answers 3


On the grounds that sentences written by Hofstadter are surely "Hofstadterian", here's a random sentence from Gödel, Escher, Bach (p. 130):

The proverbial German phenomenon of the "verb-at-the-end", about which droll tales of absentminded professors who would begin a sentence, ramble on for an entire lecture, and then finish up by rattling off a string of verbs by which their audience, for whom the stack had long since lost its coherence, would be totally nonplussed, are told, is an excellent example of linguistic pushing and popping.

  • 9
    Excellent. Now I know who must have invented trolling.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Oct 29, 2010 at 9:49
  • hmmm sorry if I seem unconvinced but isn't that sort of discussion of the conditions of a hofstadterian phrase, rather than an actual example of one? I may still accept if others agree with you, just going to leave question open a bit longer. Commented Oct 31, 2010 at 21:13
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    @Anonymous Type, note that the base sentence in the example is "The proverbial German phenomenon of the 'verb-at-the-end' is an excellent example of linguistic pushing and popping." Between the two halves of that sentence, Hofstadter has inserted 49 words and (worse) half a dozen commas. If that's not a Hofstadterian phrase, I don't know what is.
    – Marthaª
    Commented Nov 1, 2010 at 0:55
  • oh right, but isn't the verb - rattling off half way through the sentence kind of negate that? Commented Nov 1, 2010 at 2:26
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    @Anonymous Type: Well, the sentence is (1) by Hofstadter, (2) about stacks in language, so at the intersection of programming and linguistics, (3) comments on an interesting feature of another language, (4) contains something anecdotal, (5) is self-referential (does involve pushing-and-popping, even if it isn't just of the verb-at-the-end variety it mentions for German), (6) contains humour and makes you think. That seems to suffice for me. :-) Commented Nov 1, 2010 at 9:00

Hofstadt talked about levels of recursion in his book "Goedel Escher Bach" - a book which expounds upon many other things, such as strange loops (which are these peculiar not-really-thinking-though-somehow-becoming-conscious-through-entanglement "things" (for lack of a better word (though English does have many words)) that are repeatedly referred to in the book) and various scientific disciplines like Computer Science and logic (which are pretty related to each other, of course) - so if one were to be asked about a Hofstadterian statement, one could say it is very convoluted, deeply nested, and hard-to-parse but maybe not so hard to understand once you've read through it a few times =).

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    nice. if you edit and add a nested loop in english rather than C I'll accept... ;) Commented Oct 29, 2010 at 4:08
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    hmm i'm not sure english has a word to itereate.. 1. lather 2. rinse 3. repeat, perhaps, but nothing to make one read a phrase over and over again a set number of times. it's more just nesting of phrases.
    – Claudiu
    Commented Oct 29, 2010 at 13:55
  • I've never seen a programming syntax that can't be re-written using pseudocode in English terms, so I'm hopeful of an example. Commented Oct 31, 2010 at 21:14
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    @Anonymous Type: You can phrase it in pseudocode, but the computers reading it (humans) won't go into a loop upon getting it as input.
    – Claudiu
    Commented Nov 1, 2010 at 5:19

This statement is not Hofstadterian.

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    You forgot the part wherein the OP requested an explanatory comment to accompany your example.
    – tchrist
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 19:21
  • @tchrist I didn't forget it. I chose to ignore it.
    – user24964
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 22:30
  • lol. nice answer. i upvoted you. Commented May 5, 2014 at 6:01
  • It is easy for me to imagine that most people, even those who have read Gödel, Escher, Bach, might miss the brilliance of this answer. I almost missed it. Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 3:23

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