Is It Crazy How Saying Sentences Backwards, Whatso Funny

Being a mathematician with mathematician friends, my friends and I occasionally like to joke about the peculiarities of the language. This one came up recently:

Obviously, most sentences and phrases cannot be read backwards and forwards and maintain the same meaning. For instance, “watch this” and “this watch” have clearly different meanings. In mathematics, we call this non-commutativity, and it is deeply interesting. So the question is, can anyone think of a phrase or sentence which has the same semantic meaning when the words are read from right to left?



Am I as bored as you are?Are you as bored as I am?

The words, intact, are maintained in both directions. The meaning is the same but the words are different:



Watch this watch

Unless I”ve misunderstood the question, of course.

You are watching: Is it crazy how saying sentences backwards

EDIT: And in case using the same first and last word is cheating, how about

Path a route (eg. through a maze)

The reverse form still makes sense, just about, I think.

Essentially for an A-B-C structure you”d need pairs of words that are both nouns and verbs, and have the same meaning in both senses. It”s an interesting thing to think about.


One of the sentences I, an eleven year old, found that stays the same backwards is:

mr owl ate my metal worm

… and backwards it is still:

mr owl ate my metal worm.
“Right are you.””You are right.”(Many words can be substituted for “right,” e.g., “married;” & other pronouns for “you,” e.g., “they are happy” / “happy are they.”)

Now that I”ve played around with this, the only way it can work is if the subject and the direct object are the same; otherwise, it will reverse the actions.

I drove myself.

Myself drove I.

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While it sounds weird, it does mean the same thing, unlike this case, where the DO is different.

I drove Jerry.

Jerry drove I.

I have just attended a seminar entitled “speech-accompanying gestures”. “Gestures accompanying speech” would have the same meaning, I think. Not a sentence, though.

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