Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Language Art of Lying

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. I've been contemplating this pangram over and over in my head lately. It's simple enough... A basic sentence... Seemingly meaningless. Why does it continuously echo itself off of the canyons of my mind? Once upon a time in the golden age of the typewriter, before the electronic age brought us the word processor and later the laptop computer, this sentence was used to test the ink ribbon on typewriters. A pangram is a sentence that contains each letter of the alphabet. If one individual key on the typewriter isn't working properly, this simple little phrase allows one to differentiate which particular key is out of function. This would seemingly work also: abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz Who came up with the little phrase? Somebody who is very good with words, apparently, but not so savvy with their knowledge of animals. Any 4th grader knows that a fox would never venture close to a dog, whether that dog is lazy or not. Foxes are extremely timid and scatter at the mere scent of humans, dogs, and other predatory creatures. And does a Brown fox even exist? I've only seen red ones. That's how my mind works... I don't look at a Rubik's cube and marvel at it's complexity. I look at the person solving it, and and am amazed with their complexity. Logistics are important, and I understand the pangram's purpose, but what is the point of encouraging one aspect of intelligence (as writing) while totally debunking another (animal science)? In theory, doesn't the false statement about foxes cancel out the point learning what the writing exercise is meant to teach us?