Thursday, 18 April 2013

P is for ... PANGRAM


So today is the 18th of April, which must mean that it's the sixteenth day of the A to Z challenge.  I've decided to share my love of writing through this challenge, and hopefully introduce people to the world of Oulipo.  I first heard about Oulipo when I was at university, and I was fascinated by their approach to writing that I decided to delve deeper into the world of experimental writing.

In a nutshell, this group of writers likes to assign constraints to their work in order to push creative boundaries.  Not only is this fun to do (the process of writing something with a constraint really does open the mind), the results are brilliant.



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P is for ... PANGRAM
"A pangram contains all the letters of the alphabet.  Probably the most familiar concise English pangram - 33 letters long - is A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.  Clearly there is no problem in composing pangrams if the number of letters used is unlimited; and the ambition of almost anyone aware of the pangram's existence is to create an isopangram, that is, a pangram in which all 26 letters appear once and once only." 
Oulipo Compendium ed. Harry Matthews & Alastiar Brotchie (London: Atlas Press, 2005) page 208 & 209.
*****

The pangram is one of the core elements of Mark Dunn's novel, Ella Minnow Pea.  The town has a statue with the 'quick fox / lazy dog' sentence written above it.  Every so often a letter falls from the statue, and when that happens, the townspeople aren't allowed to use that letter.  This continues until most of the letters have fallen, and the only way to bring them back is to write a shorter pangram than the original.

They end up with:
Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs (page 193) [32 letters long]
Few quips galvanized the mock jury box (page 203) [32 letters long]
Quick zephyrs blow, vexing daft Jim (page 203) [29 letters long]
J.Q. Vandz struck my big fox whelp (page 203) [26 letters long]

A tough act to follow, eh?

Equipped with dictionary, vexed Rebeccah writes jerky pangrams for the A to Z blog challenge [78 letters long]
Photo credit: Booksworm / Foter.com / CC BY-SA
My antique jukebox plays very catchy songs which asphyxiate the mind and freeze the limbs [75 letters long]
Photo credit: Simon Dufour-Loriolle / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Dead men bite the necks of women to zombify girls, to acquire excess projectile vomit [71 letters long]
Photo credit: Mark Lobo . / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Four moody wasps, five angry bears, six quick snakes, eight jolly zebras [61 letters long]
Photo credit: ucumari / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Make me jealous; write a shorter one!

12 comments:

  1. I won't even try!

    but I loved "My antique jukebox plays very catchy songs which asphyxiate the mind and freeze the limbs"

    Brilliant!

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    1. I wouldn't even try to write one of these at half 8 in the morning either!

      Thank you :)

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  2. Wow! I've written stories with constraints such as word counts, character spaces, themes etc but nothing like this. Fun stuff!

    Happy A-Z!

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    1. Thank you. If you like working with constraints, you should get on the Oulipo wagon. It really pushes boundaries!

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  3. Hahahahah I remember trying to make those up when I was in grammar school! Tons of fun. Great post!

    AtoZChallenge Blogger www.katkatravels.com

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    1. Thank you :) This is my first time trying these, and you're right; they are fun (but difficult)!

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  4. I love all your posts, but I want to spend more time with them. I am definitely going to revisit them after A to Z I want to play with these fun ideas.

    61 letters or less, eh? Hmm... If I can, I'll be back!

    Tui, from A to Z
    Twitter: @mentalmosaic
    blog: Tui Snider's Texas, Travel, Photos & Reviews

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    1. Thank you. And yes, please give then a go :)

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  5. Pangrams, the brilliant little things. Love 'em!

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    1. I've never tried them until now. But I did enjoy it!

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  6. Avid fans quickly scribble down juxtaposing comments with zeal. (56)

    Avid fans write quick comments with zeal by juxtaposing. (47)

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: kristenhead.blogspot.com

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    1. Yay, 47! I'm going to have to get my thinking cap on to write a shorter one!! :D

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