A recent Snapple cap of mine proclaimed that:

French author Michel Thayer published a 233 page novel which has no verbs.

  1. Does anyone know the name of this book?
  2. Can anyone explain how this is possible?
  • "Le Train de Nulle Part (The Train from Nowhere) is a 233-page French novel, written in 2004 by a French doctor of letters, Michel Dansel, under the pen name Michel Thaler. Notable as an example of constrained writing, the entire novel is written without a single verb." – iiRosie1 Jan 15 '18 at 22:36

Le Train de Nulle Part (The Train from Nowhere)

It's a gimmick. Nothing more. Oh sure, he gets all high and mighty about it, but even in his explanation of why he did it he breaks his own rule about never using verbs.

From the Wikipedia page:

Thaler surmised, "The verb is like a weed in a field of flowers. You have to get rid of it to allow the flowers to grow and flourish. Take away the verbs and the language speaks for itself."

Nobody said it was a good novel. ;)

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To answer your second question, an example of how the writing flows is given on the French Wikipedia page:

Quelle aubaine! Une place de libre, ou presque, dans ce compartiment. Une escale provisoire, pourquoi pas! Donc, ma nouvelle adresse dans ce train de nulle part: voiture 12, 3e compartiment dans le sens de la marche. Encore une fois, pourquoi pas?


What a stroke of luck! A free seat, or almost, in this compartment. A provisional stop, why not! So my new address in this train from nowhere: car 12, 3rd compartment in the direction of travel. Again, why not? (edited Google translation)

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It's much easier to do in French than English, but it's possible. There is no "method" for doing so, though.

In fact, you can do this with almost any part of speech. Language is weird. For example, "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" is a grammatically correct sentence in English--but really, who the fu*k would ever want to write such a sentence?

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  • 2
    Yeah, but if you read the explanation for that sentence, "buffalo" is actually used as a verb (twice, if I got it right), meaning "to bully" ....nice try though. :P – Shokhet Jul 13 '14 at 2:47
  • As a bilingual, I am highly skeptical of your comment regarding French being easier. Care to explain? – Manux Jul 13 '14 at 11:37
  • @AnotherUser that wasn't an example of a verbless sentence, big guy. It was an example of weird language. Hence the "language is weird. For example..." part. You read that part, right? – James Jul 14 '14 at 2:35
  • @Manux As a speaker of four languages, it's just my opinion. It's not terribly important to me. – James Jul 14 '14 at 2:36

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