A minimal sentence to practice calligraphy.

· calligraphy

A minimal sentence traditionally used to practice writing all 26 English letters is:

The quick brown dog jumped over the sleazy fox.

I have composed a shorter version that includes an ampersand, which was once considered the 27th character of the English alphabet:

Jump over the quick sleazy fox & win a badge.

The latter sentence has three fewer characters than the first, making it shorter even without the use of the ampersand. One can now practice the calligraphic composition of 27 different characters by writing 35; all additional characters are vowels.  The first sentence contains only one ‘a’, and one ‘i’, while the latter has a more balanced repetition of vowels: eee, aaa, oo, ii, uu (in order of letter frequency in English usage).

Interestingly, the word ampersand arose by slurring the phrase at the end of the traditional alphabetic recitation: “A, B, … ,  X, Y, Z and per se and”.  Fittingly, our use of the Latin et results from a contraction of a phrase that includes another Latin phrase and is per se a contraction.   For those who argue against the use of the ampersand in modern usage, I recommend digesting the following view:


I must admit that many would find this shortening a bit pedantic and not quite worthy of a blog entry, however, I was teaching my children to practice writing today and had no time to compose anything else of significance.

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