Longest English sentence  

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There have been several claims for the longest sentence in the English language, usually with claims that revolve around the longest printed sentence. There is no absolute limit on the length of a written English sentence. A sentence can be made as long as time allows with concatenating (linking) clauses using grammatical conjunctions such as and. Sentences can also be extended indefinitely by the addition of modifiers and modifier clauses, such as

The mouse that the cat that the dog chased ....

This ability to embed structures iteratively within larger ones is called recursion. This also highlights the difference between linguistic performance and linguistic competence, because the language can support more variation than can reasonably be created or recorded. Human language grammars are phrase-generation systems, so—in their simplest forms—they must have infinite output. The deeper, more recursive structures reflect similarities among linguistic constituents and operations, but a listener can understand these structures without going into a deeper analysis. At least one linguistics textbook concludes that, in theory, "there is no longest English sentence".

The 1983 Guinness Book of World Records claims, however, that there is a "Longest Sentence in Literature": a sentence from the William Faulkner novel Absalom, Absalom! containing 1,288 words. The sentence can be found in Chapter 6; it begins with the words 'Just exactly like father', and ends with 'the eye could not see from any point'. The passage is entirely italicised and incomplete.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Longest English sentence" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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