Word for the day: pangram

“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

That’s an English-language pangram, that is, a phrase that uses all twenty-six letters of the English alphabet at least once.

I never hear this phrase without thinking of my friend Larry from high school. We sat next to each other in typing class. Our tables were arranged in groups of two, and we had to pound the keys of our manual typewriters with the kind of force people use today only when software isn’t working correctly. The fox phrase was one we typed over and over to help us develop our keyboarding skills.

Most of the typewriters had blank keys so that we’d learn by touch and not sight, but my typewriter keys had the letters printed on them. Larry’s did not. My speeds were always faster than his. One day in the last seconds before Mrs. Jones called, “Begin!” on a typing test, Larry whispered, “I’d like to see how fast you’d type on a Helen Keller.” I laughed so hard I had to put my head in my arms on my typewriter to keep from disturbing the rest of the class. His speed was definitely faster than mine that day.

The Adventures of Katnip: 53


8 thoughts on “Word for the day: pangram

  1. Not only did our typewriters have blank keys, we occasionally had blindfold speed tests. How did you keep the pup from even looking at Katnip and crew. Mlle. Renee would have claimed one or more of them as her own.

    1. Margot hated every second of that. In fact, I had to sharpen the fox using my photo software because she was getting ready to move away from me, so she made him a little blurry. On large versions of the photo, it looks like I photoshopped him in, but he was indeed next to her. Here’s an outtake, in which the quick brown fox looks like a sacrifice on the Altar of Margot:

  2. Junior year, high school. Mr. Tremblay. A short, slender man with jet black hair and horn rim glasses. He talked through his nose; and I can still hear the unison clack of keys responding to his slow dictation of letters we were to press. “FGFVFCFTFR”…….

    I have been forever grateful for his tortures, all through college and beyond!

    1. You remind me of those two opposing truisms: “Learn to type; you’ll always have a job.” And: “Never learn to type; you’ll be stuck doing it all your life.”

      Now, everybody types.

      1. I taught myself how to type, being the computer geek I have been since I was 10. It wasn’t until I was 13 or 14 that I could type without looking at the keys. I started using the ergonomic split keyboard after college, and I dread the day the keyboard breaks and I have to use the Apple keyboard on a painful flat plane of aluminum. I find the iPad concept a good idea but my hands are always in odd angles. My temptation is to build a touch screen keyboard that is shaped like my ergonomic one :).

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