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"Patience and time do more than strength or passion."
- Jean de la Fontaine


The perfect pangram...

The objective is simple: Compose a sentence that contains every letter of the alphabet, preferably, using each letter only once.

One of the best known pangrams is used by people learning to type.
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

However, this pangram is far from perfect. It contains three e's, two h's, four o's two r's, two t's, and two u's. It can be improved slightly by changing 'the' to 'a', but it still contains thirty-three letters.

Better yet...

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.
This has thirty-two letters and repeats the letters i, e and o.

Waltz, bad nymph, for quick jigs vex.
This is better still but it repeats the a and i.

Some other attempts (letter-totals in brackets):
Six plump boys guzzled cheap raw vodka quite joyfully (46)
Sympathizing would fix Quaker objectives (36)
Quick waxy bugs jump the frozen veldt (31)
Brick quiz whangs jumpy veldt fox (27)

Less letters = less sense...

Generally, the shorter the pangram, the less sense it makes. Dmitri Borgmann managed to find five words which contain all the letters of the alphabet (phlegms, fyrd, wuz, qvint, jackbox) but he was unable to construct a sentence with them.

Pangrams are difficult in any language but are especially hard in English because there are many more consonants than vowels and most words need at least one vowel.

Pangram in French...

Zoe, grande fille, veut que je boive ce whiskey, mais je ne veux pas.
This contains far too many letters (and I don't why anyone would refuse a shot of whiskey from a lady).

Monsieur Jack, vous dactylographiez bien mieux que votre ami Wholf.
Not much better, this example contains a whopping fifty-six letters.

The Atlas de Litterature Potentielle claims the shortest French pangram is: Whisky vert: jugez cinq fox d'aplomb.

Pangrams in the Bible...

Some searchers look for pangrams in literary works. These tireless investigators have found pangrammatic occurrences in Shakespeare, Milton and the Bible.

This passage from Ezra 7: 21 contains every letter except j.

And I, even I, Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treaurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily.

Twenty-six letters...

Some perfect pangrams (containing exactly twenty-six letters) have been written but they rely on obscure words and border on the non-sensical.

Cwm fjord-bank glyphs vext quiz
(an eccentric's annoyance at finding ancient inscriptions on the side of a fiord in a valley).

Vext cwm fly zing jabs Kurd qoph
(an annoyed fly in a valley, humming shrilly, pokes at the nineteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet drawn by a Kurd).

Nth black fjords vex Qum gyp wiz
(an esteemed Iranian shyster was provoked when he was cheated: an alleged seaside ski resort he purchased turned out to be a glacier of countless oil-abundant fiords).

Blowzy night-frumps vex'd Jack Q (self explanatory)

Can computers find pangrams?

To date, no one has come up with a perfect pangram which makes perfect sense. However, as English evolves and new words are added, it may someday be possible to succeed in this quest. Some have experimented with computers but the results have been less than spectacular. Only pangrams of forty letters or more were found:

The qualmish Afghan Jew packed over sixty fez with bees.

To be fair, the task is not a simple one. The twenty-six letters of the alphabet can be combined in 403,290,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 ways!

A variation of pangrams...

The 'ALFAZED' is an entertaining variation of the pangram. The object is to write a twenty-six word sentence where each word begins with a letter of the alphabet consecutively from A to Z. A slight cheat is allowed with the letter x (see the examples) because so few words begin with this letter in the English language.

Here are a some examples:

On Safari
Always be careful driving elephants for game hunters into jaguar killing. Leading mahouts never offer pachyderms quahogs. Research shows they usually vomit wildly x-terminating young zebras.

Boring Facts
Aardvarks blithely consume disgusting entomofauna (frequently guzzling horrible insect juices) knowing luscious maggots never outdo plump, rubious, quivering, sand termites unless veiled with xeraderma. Yawn, zzz...

Poetic Rush Hour
Automobiles bring congestion
Drivers everywhere
Fuscous gridlock
Heaving in jalopies
Knotted like mackerel
Noisy, old, petrol quaffing rattletraps
Stalled, tits up
Vitiating whales, x-piring
Yowling: "Ziebart!"

Try your hand at creating an ALFAZED and share it in the Puzzler's Forum

Next Feature...

Puns: the lowest form of wit. Or, as Oscar Levant remarked: "A pun is the lowest form of humor- when you didn't think of it first."


If you enjoyed this article then you'll want to read "The Oxford Guide To Word Games" by Tony Augarde.

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Until next time, HAPPY PUZZLING!
a puzzler's pencil dies young

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