This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Nuts and Bolts: pangrams.

Here are three examples of perfect pangrams:

Pójdźże, kiń tę chmurność w głąb flaszy!

That's Polish. It means Come on, drop your sadness into the depth of a bottle!

Lynx c.q. vos prikt bh: dag zwemjuf!

That's Dutch and translates, bizarrely, as Lynx, in this case fox, stings bra: hello swim teacher!

And, lastly,

Cwm fjord veg balks nth pyx quiz.

Believe it or not, that one is in English (but not, obviously, English as we know it). Normal English would give this as: Relaxing in basins at the end of inlets terminates the endless tests from the box.

So. Can you guess what a pangram is, yet?

A pangram is a phrase which uses every letter of the alphabet. A perfect pangram uses each letter only once. That Polish example is wonderful because it actually makes sense, but no English example does as far as I know, though Jump dogs, why vex Fritz Blank QC? isn't bad if you're prepared to accept foreign proper names and abbreviations.

Allow an extra letter or so and things improve: Bright vixens jump; dozy fowl quack.

Of course the best-known example is The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Pangrams are really only useful for testing a keyboard or a typist, but they're harmless enough as long as they don't become an obsession.

There is a slightly saner version of the pangram which includes not every letter but every diacritical mark (they're what we usually call accents). I like this Swedish one: Ölälskaråsna because it means Beer-loving donkey.

Thing To Use Today: a pangram. Well, why not. You can make sure all the letters on your keyboard are working.

The word pangram comes from the Greek pan gramma, which means every letter.

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