Ever Wondered About That Fox?

10 06 2020

It’s widely accepted that the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. But what compels it to do so? It must surely be true since it’s been recorded countless times in countless hands. It was recorded in The Boston Journal, in an article titled “Current Notes” on 9th February 1885, so it’s been going on at least that long! And it’s present tense, so presumably it does so on a continuous basis.

And what of the dog? Why does it put up with such behaviour? I’d get pretty narked if some feral Reynard kept using me as a hurdle whilst I was trying to get some well-earned Zeds after a hard day staring up a tree looking for squirrels. It just seems so rude.

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Why oh why?!

The famous phrase is of course a pangram – a sentence using every letter of the alphabet at least once. In my younger years I recorded instead that a quick sly fox jumped over the lazy brown dog. It’s not however the most efficient sentence to record every letter in a gramatically correct sentence. According to the mighty Wikipedia several relatively well known alternatives are ranked thus:

  1. “Waltz, bad nymph, for quick jigs vex.” (28 letters)
  2. “Jived fox nymph grabs quick waltz.” (28 letters)
  3. “Glib jocks quiz nymph to vex dwarf.” (28 letters)
  4. “Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow.” (29 letters)
  5. “How vexingly quick daft zebras jump!” (30 letters)
  6. “The five boxing wizards jump quickly.” (31 letters)
  7. “Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz.” (31 letters)
  8. “Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.” (32 letters)
  9. “The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog” coming in at 33 letters and slightly more efficient than the usual the dog version.

There has not (as yet) been discovered a “perfect pangram” containing only 26 letters and containing no abbreviations or other non-words, such as “Mr Jock, TV quiz PhD, bags few lynx”.


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