I Want to Eat Sixty Cucumbers Right Away
This is the first sentence I learn when I teach myself a new language.
Its merits are numerous:
- It’s funny therefore easy to rememeber.
- It always cracks people up. Useful for making acquaintances.
- It contains the pronoun “I”, arguably the first word one should learn.
- It contains the verb “want” which, given human nature, is probably the second word one should learn.
- It contains the verb “eat” which, if one wants to survive, is probably the third word one should learn.
- It combines the modal verb “want” with a second verb. Some languages, like Finnish, use a special conjugation for this type of construction.
- It contains a two-digit number that gives hints to both a single-digit number (6) and 10 which is typically reused to build 20, 30, 40 etc.
- It contains a food item following a number.
Hungarian (4th sentence above), for example, leaves nouns in the singular case after numbers. Finnish uses the partitive case. Slavic languages (Polish, 2nd sentence) use the plural genitive. Other languages, like Arabic, have a different form for food items taken as a group.
- It contains the adverb “right away”, useful for impatient tourists and indicative of word placement of secondary elements within a sentence.
This groovy sentence alone communicates all the information listed above. It’s easy to extend the rules learned from it to other sentences later on.
Tim Ferris uses a similar method to quickly grasp the building blocks of a new language. Mine is more fun, though :-)
Now what would the design counterpart of this sentence be?