In Portuguese it occurs a phenomenon of se word repetition. The first se is translated to English as if, and the second is the reflexive pronoun of the singular 3rd person, as the last word of the following sentences:

  • He washes himself
  • She washes herself
  • It washes itself


Portuguese phrase — Literal English translation — English meaning

  • Se se investir em ouro, a empresa ganha dinheiro — If itself invest in gold, the company earns money — If we invest in gold, the company earns money
  • Evitar apertos de mão, mesmo se se trata de mãos lavadas — Avoid handshakes, even if itself treats about washed hands — Avoid handshakes, even if it is about washed hands

What is the name of this phenomenon? Does it occur in other languages?

1 Answer 1


It is a case of two or more homonyms (or homographs) accidentally occurring next to each other. I do not think there is a name for it, but it occurs in all languages and is quite banal. An English example: THE POLISH POLISH POLISH BOOTS WITH POLISH POLISH.

  • 2
    Or "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo", repeating "buffalo" and randomizing the capitalization as many times as needed. (buffalo (n.) = bison, buffalo (v.) = bully, Buffalo (adj.) = from Buffalo, New York)
    – Tory
    Sep 12, 2014 at 14:17

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