The quick brown fox

Yesterday’s post was based on the sentence, ‘The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog’. This is an example, possibly the best known one, of a pangram, which is a sentence using all the letters of the alphabet.

Various versions exist, which can be summarised as, ‘(A/The) quick brown fox (jumps/jumped) over (a/the) lazy dog’. Versions with jumped are possibly more common, but are not pangrams because they lack s. Versions with two thes are possibly more common than versions with  one the and one a, but are two letters longer than they need to be. (Wikipedia’s page on the sentence has two thes.) Versions with two as are possible but are not pangrams because they lack t and h, and in any case a quick search online shows that no-one actually writes them.

‘The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog’ is 33 letters long – there are two as, two es, four os and two us. A perfect pangram contains every letter of the alphabet exactly once. Various examples have been contrived, but they rely on foreign or archaic words, proper nouns, abbreviations or tortured syntax. The shortest reasonably natural-sounding pangrams in English are about 30 to 32 letters long, one example being ‘Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs’ (32 letters, one shorter than ‘The quick brown fox’).

Pangrams exist in other languages. According to this site, the shortest pangram in Korean is 키스의 고유조건은 입술끼리 만나야 하고 특별한 기술은 필요치 않다 (kis-eu-ui go-yu-jo-geo-neun ip-sul-kki-ri man-na-ya ha-go teuk-byeol-han gi-sul-eun pil-yo-chi anh-da), which translates as the rather poetic ‘The essential condition for a kiss is that lips meet and there is no special technique required’. This depends on whether the double letters of Korean (ㅃ, ㅉ, ㄸ, ㄲ, ㅆ) are considered to be distinct and need to be included. The previous sentence includes ㄲ but not the other four.

(The spell-checker on Pages for Mac recognises pangram but not pangrams. The spell-check on WordPress doesn’t recognise either.)


5 thoughts on “The quick brown fox

  1. The spell-checkers in Pages for Mac and WordPress do not recognise ‘wha’, either.
    Thank you for reading right to the end. I may include a deliberate error in the last sentence just to see if anyone paying attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “wha” is extremely useful when, for example, sheer effort of typing all four letters of ‘what’ is just overwhelming and you want to drop a letter and still be understood. “wht” doesn’t really work, it could stand for ‘whit’ as easily as ‘white, and “hat” is a word in its own right.
    I like the idea of a deliberate error hidden in the post. It will keep us on our metaphorical toes.


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