In this blogposting…* Pangrams
Take care - it’s slippy underfoot…
I seem to have been over-indulging my love of words and language here on the blog recently and, because ‘things bad begun make strong themselves by ill’ ( - one of Shakespeare’s more unintelligible lines, I think - ) I’ve decided that I may as well keep going.
It’s all the fault of Peter, in South Shields. He recently sent me a fascinating - not to say ludicrous - list of pangrams.
A pangram is a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet whose language it’s written in. It doesn’t sound easy and it’s not, specially if you want the sentence to make any sort of sense.
Peter’s list of English pangrams highlights the problems admirably.
1 Waltz, bad nymph, for quick jigs vex. (28 letters)
2 Quick zephyrs blow, vexing daft Jim. (29 letters)
3 Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow. (29 letters)
4 Two driven jocks help fax my big quiz. (30 letters)
5 Five quacking zephyrs jolt my wax bed. (31 letters)
6 The five boxing wizards jump quickly. (31 letters)
7 Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs. (32 letters)
8 The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. (35 letters)
9 Jinxed wizards pluck ivy from the big quilt. (36 letters)
10 Crazy Fredrick bought many very exquisite opal jewels. (46 letters)
11 We promptly judged antique ivory buckles for the next prize. (50 letters)
12 A mad boxer shot a quick, gloved jab to the jaw of his dizzy opponent. (54 letters)
13 Jaded zombies acted quaintly but kept driving their oxen forward. (55 letters)
14 The job requires extra pluck and zeal from every young wage earner. (55 letters)
Most of them stretch credibility, and even comprehension, to the limits. I’m especially curious about what situations could have given rise to numbers 3, 4, 5 and 13. All those sphinxes ( - shouldn’t that be spelt with a ‘y’? - ), driven jocks, quacking zephyrs (huh???), and jaded zombies driving oxen.
On the other hand, numbers 10 and 11 are perversely meaningful and even elegant, number 14 actually makes sense and I could actually have said number 7 at some point in my life.
All in all, though, composing pangrams is obviously a cry for help. And it’s not just users of the English alphabet who are in need of a life. Here’s a French pangram…
Portez ce vieux whisky au juge blond qui fume which means take this old whiskey to the blond-haired judge who is smoking. I’d like to know the story behind that one.
And here’s a German pangram…
Victor jagt zwölf Boxkämpfer quer über den großen Sylter Deich. As far as my cobwebbed German can make out, it means Victor chased twelve boxers straight over the great Sylter dyke. The heart has its reasons, I suppose.
This one’s in Turkish…
Pijamalı hasta yağız şoföre çabucak güvendi, which seems to be saying something or other about a swarthy pyjama-clad patient relying on a quick driver, as well he might. (The dotless ‘i’s in this sentence are not errors; the Turkish alphabet invented that letter for itself in 1922.)
Finally, here’s a Spanish pangram…
El veloz murciélago hindú comía feliz cardillo y kiwi. La cigüeña tocaba el saxofón detrás del palenque de paja. I love this one because, although it cheats ( - it’s two sentences rather than the obligatory one - ) it paints a verbal picture of which Dali or Picasso or Gaudi would have been proud.
It means ‘the quick brown fox happily eating thistle and kiwi; the stork played the saxophone behind the straw arena.’
I can hear the conversation in the art gallery now. ‘Look - it’s a Picasso, I think! It’s called ‘Pangram’. What’s that thing there? Oh, it’s a fox. And it seems to be eating something in a hurry - gobbling it down. Are they thistles in its paws? And oh Lord - I think that’s a dead kiwi on the ground! What does it mean, though? And why is that stork playing a saxophone? Or is it a heron playing a clarinet? And why is the stadium made of straw??? What does the gallery guide-book say?’
It’s interesting, though, that even in Spanish, quick brown foxes rate highly in pangrams.
Want to try and write your own? (In English, of course!)
WORLD ICE-ART CHAMPIONSHIPS
The photos adorning this posting are from the World Ice-Art Championships which have been held in Fairbanks, Alaska since 1989. They were sent to me by Eric and Jean.
Aren’t they lovely? (The pictures, not Eric and Jean. Although Eric and Jean are lovely, too.)
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