Another Joke Only Linguists Will Understand

The farmer stood at the edge of his field glaring at the official from the Animal Welfare Board. The official had a doughy face and fussy glasses and looked ridiculous with the legs of his suit pants tucked into brand new boots. The farmer had adopted all the attitudes that usually worked to keep meddlesome city folk at bay–reticence, condescension, and finally outright hostility–but the official would not be deterred. He had an implacable air about him, and the calm assurance of someone who knows that the law is on his side. The sun was just reaching its noontime height. A rivulet of sweat broke loose down the farmer’s back while a cloud of gnats lingered around his face. Over by the barn, a donkey lazily munched a clump of grass. “But you don’t understand,” the farmer said, a note of pleading worming its way into his voice. “Every farmer who owns a d–

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