I blame Christopher Carfi for this post. It was he who tweeted:
Wasilla’s all I saw
If that was not enough, he went further: he called it a Palin-drome.
Which had me on the verge of snorting green tea out my nostrils in ways God never intended nostrils to be used. Thank you Chris.
You know something? I had absolutely no idea what the etymology for “palindrome” was, so I had to look it up. The -dromos was not the problem, but the palin- sure was. And guess what? Palin is Greek for “back”. Figures.
The wikipedia article does a reasonable job of describing pretty much everything you need to know about palindromes, so if you’re curious or bored go take a look here.
The article also mentions my favourite, apparently said of de Lesseps:
A man. A plan. A canal. Panama.
While on the subject of word games and puzzles, I belong to a generation where learning to type was a normal thing to do. And, particularly when one was young, it meant hammering away at holoalphabetic sentences, sentences that contain every letter in the alphabet.
The commonest one was “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” 35 letters. And that was beaten by “Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs”. 32 letters. Pretty good going, I thought, using 26 letters with only six duplicates, while still making sense.
Letter-crazy kids like me were naturally interested in being the first to get to the ultimate, a 26 letter holoalphabetic sentence.
Sadly, even before I entered my teens, it was done: CWM FJORD-BANK GLYPHS VEXT QUIZ. Translated as Drawings on a fjord bank in a valley confused the expert. Or so they tried to convince me. And they did, enough for me to stop trying.
Anyone got any better palindromes to share, discounting those already in Wikipedia? Anyone got any better holoalphabetic sentences to share? Do let me know.
10 thoughts on “Wasilla’s all I saw: the ultimate Palin-drome”
The wikipedia article reminded me of the crab canon in Gödel, Escher, Bach. I was re-reading bits of that the other day after finising Anathem.
One holoalphabetic sentence I know is “Five boxing lizards jump quickly into the water.” Unfortunately it has 37 letters, far more than the perfect, 26-letter version.
what i learned today: holoalphabetic sentences are also called pangrams. (of course they are.)
a sensible one with 27 letters:
“Big fjords vex quick waltz nymph.”
(from the wikipedia pangram page)
Crab Canon is a neat piece. We used to play in in the fife & drum corps I belonged to years ago. Very pretty. I’d forgotten it was mentioned in Godel, Escher, Bach.
From the fog of my mis-spent youth, I remember: “Sums are not set as a test for Erasamus”
Sorry, that should read “on Erasmus” – but I did mention “fog” :-)
The Wikipedia article mentions Peter Norvig producing (in Feb 2002) extensions of the Panama palindrome using a program. The approach for such a program and earlier attempts at this style of Palindrome generation (using a dictionary to insert comma separated text in the middle of the original Panama palindrome) are explained in, what I think, is one of the most entertaining programming books of all time – Peter Van der Linden’s Expert C Programming. Deep C Secrets, published in 1994 (http://tinyurl.com/5muwoq)
I doubt this has made it to the Wikipedia list:
Well, A man a plan … is probably more correctly said of Teddy Roosevelt. If it were a French p-drome, that would be different.
One of my favorites, apropos of not much:
(the musical minimalist).
There’s also “Sit on a potato pan,Otis.”
And finally, I’ve defined the term for something that is not a palindrome.
It’s “emordnilap.” Naturally, most sentences are emordnilaps.