30 twats in a field

Passed along by Mike Pope, this supremely annoying video clip in which a man poses what sounds like a question riddle to a woman, who can’t interpret the question, and the man, chuckling offensively, just goes on repeating the question. But if she didn’t get the trick early on, she’ll be stuck indefinitely in her incomprehension — and by the time her tormentor finally provides hints that might let her see the trick, there’s no hope she’ll get out of the processing hole she’s in.

I would label the man as an asshole or a total dick, but since the speakers are British, I prefer to call him a first-class twat.

But check it out for yourself:

The run-down. From Twatman, three parts in sequence:

(1) 30 cows in a field.

(2) [an expression that in ordinary relaxed English could, in principle, be either (2a) or (2b)]

– (2a) 28 chickens.
– (2b) 20 ate chickens.

(3) How many didn’t?

The choice of chickens in (2) is a cheap and nasty trick: cows don’t eat chickens, so interpretation (2b) is deeply implausible (though not entirely ruled out, since we could be in a make-believe universe with carnivorous cows). Things would have gone very differently if the plural N in (2) had been soybeans rather than chickens: then, since we don’t normally count soybeans (though we could, in principle), but instead treat soybeans as referentially like a mass N, the interpretation of (2) as 20 ate soybeans would be hugely preferred to the interpretation as 28 soybeans.

Well along in the torture scene, Twatman finally provides a hyper-precise accentuation for the expression in (2) that favors ate (2b) over eight (2a). But it’s way too late for that to help.

If you can get to the ate interpretation, then (3) asks how many cows didn’t eat chickens, and the answer is 10.

One Response to “30 twats in a field”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    Amazing that she didn’t just smack him silly at some point. I myself would have preferred John Cleese’s reaction to the keeper of the cheeseless cheese shop: “Well I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to shoot you.”

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