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"Time flies prefer an arrow: fruit flies choose a banana” is often attributed to the comedian Groucho Marx (1890-1977), yet Marx—if he ever said it—almost absolutely has naught to carry out with the saying. “Time flies” is native the ancient Latin saying tempus fugit. “Time flies prefer an arrow” (that is, time passes surely and also swiftly) is a Chinese maxim that has been cited in English since at the very least 1815. Anthony G. Oettinger, the Gordon McKay Professor of applied Mathematics and Professor of details Resources plan (Emeritus) in ~ Harvard University, and Susumu Kuno tested the saying “Time flies favor an arrow” in 1963 right into an IBM 7090 computer. The word “flies” deserve to be both a noun and a verb. A November 1963 newspaper story reported that the computer system would it is in tripped up on the sentence “Fruit flies like bananas.” “Time flies prefer an arrow; fruit flies favor a banana” became popular in computational linguistics. Wikipedia: Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana“Time flies choose an arrow; fruit flies favor a banana,” is a saying, often taken humorously, that is offered in grammars as an example of a garden path sentence and syntactic ambiguity, and also in word play as an instance of punning, dual entendre, and also antanaclasis. A fairly common variant is, “Time flies choose the wind; fruit flies favor a banana.” The semicolon is sometimes replaced by a full stop, or the second half may be came before by words but. Some versions have actually bananas rather of a banana. Google BooksA thesaurus of the Chinese Language: In 3 PartsVolume 1By Robert MorrisonMacao: published at the Honorable eastern India Company’s Press1815Pg. 755:But time flies choose an arrow. Google BooksChinese moral Maxims, through a free and linguistic translationCompiled by john Francis DavisLondon: man Murray1823Pg. 28:XXXVII. Time flies favor an arrow: days and also months like a weaver’s shuttle. 14 November 1963, Boston (MA) Herald, pg. 2, col. 1:MACHINE MAY find out ENGLISH—IN TIMENew form of fly Swats ComputerBy FRED BRADYTwo Harvard professors sat in former of your best-behaved pupil—an IBM 7090 computer—and directed: “Parse this sentence: ‘Time flies favor an arrow.’”(...)This time, not so pleased were Profs. Anthony Oettinger and also Susumu Kuno.(...)The professors included this in your report yesterday in ras Vegas to a computer system conference the the American Federation of information Processing Societies. Google News Archive14 November 1963, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, “Those Foolish Computers,” pg. 28, cols. 1-2:Take the simile “Time flies like an arrow.” A grammarian quickly identifies “time” together a subject of the verb “flies,” the verb gift modified through the adverbial expression “like an arrow.” The computer system will analysis the sentence in the same way but, gift literal minded, it doesn’t protect against here. It likewise will clack and also bleep the end beauties favor these: “Determine the speed of paris as quick as friend can” and also “A types of fly, dubbed time flies, enjoys one arrow.” you could, the course, train the electronic mind to prevent this foolishness and also avoid misuse that “flies” in the simile. Climate it would expedition in taking care of a sentence choose “Fruit flies choose bananas.” 15 September 1964, Hattiesburg (MS) American, “Writers space safe” by Archy Fairly, pg. 2, col. 1:With old automation creeping increase on united state in plenty of ways us don’t also dream of, writers must feel relieved in ~ the result of some recent computer tests at Harvard.(...)The thing seemed to perform all ideal with some an easy sentences, such as “people read English.” Another basic sentence, “time flys prefer an arrow,” made it stutter, display some pyrotechnics and also say “er-uh” as countless times together the male from Texas. The poor old maker just couldn’t figure out how rapid flies fly, or whether a details kind that flies, called time, are fond of arrows. The programmers might make that answer one method or another, however then the maker couldn’t manage a simple sentence like: “Fruit flies like bananas.” Google BooksThe computer Age and also Its Potential for ManagementBy Gilbert BurckNew York, NY: Harper & Row1965Pg. 61:This is still a long means off, but a regimen written (Pg. 62—ed.) through Anthony Oettinger and also Susumu Kuno that Harvard’s Computational Library permits a computer to perform all possible meanings. ‘Time flies prefer an arrow” might seem relatively straightforward to us, yet a an equipment sees a variety of other possibilities—for example, “Time the speed of paris as conveniently as girlfriend can” ("time" being understood as a verb rather than a noun) and “Certain flies reap an arrow” ("time" being interpreted as one adjective, and “like” being construed as a verb). The maker could be instructed to preeminence out these specific offbeat parsings, yet how would it take care of the sentence, “Fruit flies choose bananas”? difficulties of semantics continue to plague investigators involved with advanced man-machine communication. The Harvard CrimsonComputer use to Be broadened TenfoldBy JOEL R. KRAMER,Published: Tuesday, march 29, 1966(...)Take the sentence: “Time flies favor an arrow.” rather of having the device say, “time: subject, verb, adjective,” and also having the observer select “subject” because that this certain context, why can’t the device be instructed to “figure the out?” “Time flies choose an arrow” is no really really different from “Fruit flies favor a banana,” but their diagrams are at opposite poles. In the latter, “fruit flies” space a species of fly and “like” is a verb. Why shouldn’t the an equipment say that “time flies” are an additional (admittedly rarer) species? September 1966, scientific American, “The provides of computers in Science” by Anthony Oettinger, pg. 168:A grammar that pretends to define English at all accurately have to yield a structure for “Time flies favor an arrow” in i m sorry “time” is the topic of the verb “flies” and also “like an arrow” is an adverbial phrase modifying the verb. “Time” can likewise serve attributively, however, as in “time bomb,” and “flies” that course have the right to serve as a noun. In addition to “like” construed as a verb, this returns a framework that becomes evident only if one think of a sort of flies dubbed “time flies,” which occur to like an arrow, probably as a meal. Moreover, “time” as an imperative verb v “flies” as a noun also yields a structure that makes sense as an stimulate to who to take the end his stopwatch and also time paris with great dispatch, or choose an arrow.(...)Worse however anything ruling out the nonexisting varieties of time paris will additionally rule the end the identical however legitimate structure of “Fruit flies like a banana.” Google BooksRun, Computer, Run; The Mythology of educational InnovationBy Anthony G. Oettinger and Sema MarksCambridge, MA: Harvard college Press1969Pg. 29:Worse yet, anything ruling out the nonexisting species of time flies will additionally rule out the identical however legitimate framework of “Fruit flies choose a banana.” Google BooksHandbook of decided Pathology and AudiologyBy Lee Edward TravisNew York, NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts1971Pg. 1165:“Fruit flies favor a banana.”Semantics, the all as well nebulous notion of what a sentence means, must be invoked to choose amongst the three structures syntax accepts for “Time flies choose an arrow.” No approaches now known have the right to deal effectively with semantic troubles of this kind.