To take the alphabet
and re-arrange its 26 letters into words and preferably a sentence is one of the holy grail
s of English
and is properly called a pangram3
. However, there are some serious difficulties as will be explained below. The shortest grammatically correct
English sentence that I have found is4
Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz.
Another commonly quoted phrase, though longer is:
A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.1
The jackdaw phrase has 29 characters which has 3 extra. Can we do any better? And why is it so difficult? Is it impossible
? Well, the obvious first problem is the lack of vowels. A, E, I, O and U is not a lot to work with. Especially when you realize that your U will be tied to the Q and essentially wasted. One could avoid this by using one of the Scrabble words with a Q but no U
but the choices look quite limited. Some may give up at this point but I think I have an answer: Y.
The structure we are looking for is as follows, with @'s representing vowels and #'s representing consonants:
Total: 26 letters.
Using Y as a central vowel5 as found in 'scyth' or 'sphynx' and using 2 and 3 letter consonant combinations makes it appear quite possible. So where does that leave us? Well, I have come up with 28 letters:
Is it possible to create a search algorithm
to probe a dictionary
to come up with 27 or 26 letters? One could code a brute force algorithm but it would be like one of those infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of typewriter
s propositions. Filtering the dictionary first to eliminate any words that use the same letter twice would make the likely list a lot shorter but it would still be a lot of work to see if a combination exists.
1This reminds me of a joke...What is an agnostic dyslexic insomniac? Someone who lies in bed at night wondering if there is a dog.
2I am clinging desperately for the sake of my pride to the idea that sphynx can also be spelled with a y.
3At the time I originally posted this, I was not aware of the term pangram. Please refer to it as there are some excellent w/u's about the same subject.
4Oh, how arrogant of me! Many users sent me exact pangrams and others are provided under pangram. My favourite that I have received is: Meg Schwarzkopf quit Jynx Blvd (sent by Lord_Brawl).
5quoi? sent these additional useful words: Syzygy, crypt, Flynn, glyph, psych.