February 24, 2008

Three words to win her heart

Today's Dilbert strip reveals the ultimate pickup line for getting the romantic attention of women. It is supplied by Dogbert, who tells our hero, "Find a woman who looks hot, carve her out from the herd, and read this." He hands Dilbert an index card on which he has inscribed the magic three-word sentence. I don't think it would be right to exhibit the sentence here on Language Log. The words are too powerful.

There are, of course, given any finite set of n lexical items, far fewer than n3 three-word sentences. Perhaps you could even mentally riffle through the relevant set for English and guess the sentence. It is of course a simple transitive active clause; the subject is an abstract noun and the object is a personal pronoun. The verb is disyllabic, and of Latin origin. The line seems to work for Dilbert.

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at February 24, 2008 09:41 AM