The Real Reason No Words Have the Same Letter Three Times in a Row

Some baaad news for people that like to drag out their syllables

Lettersmarekuliasz/ShutterstockThe English language can be peculiar at times. Its longest word takes three and a half hours to read aloud, and it allows for the phrase “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.” to be a grammatically correct sentence. But one thing it does not allow is words with the same letter three times in a row.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, the possibility of a word with three straight same letters is prevented through the use of hyphens:

“We put hyphens in words that contain three of the same letters in a row, so as to break the letters up, e.g. bee-eater, bell-like, cross-section, cross-subsidize, joss-stick, and shell-less. A person who flees is a fleer, not a fleeer, and someone who sees is a seer, not a seeer. Chaffinches used to be called chaff finches, but when the two words were merged, one of the letter ‘f’s was dropped. “

Although Oxford does not proffer a reason why, it seems to ultimately come down to aesthetic. Just take a look at “seeer” without squirming. It just looks plain wrong. An exception to this would be for sound effects like zzz, shh, or bzzz, but those aren’t really words, just written representations of noises.

You could sit down and read the entire Oxford Dictionary and not once come upon a word with three letters. (This is how long it would take you to complete that task.) And yet, in a three-word command like “Record the record,” the word record will be pronounced with entirely different emphases. Because language doesn’t need to make sense.

[Source: Oxford Dictionaries]

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