A palindrome is, loosely, something that reads the same forwards and backwards. Examples:
- Madam, I’m Adam
- A man, a plan, a canal – Panama! (or any of the longer variants thereof…)
- Straw? No, too stupid a fad. I put soot on warts.
A pangram is, loosely, something that uses all the letters in the alphabet, preferably with as few duplicates as possible. Examples:
- The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. (35 letters)
- Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs. (32 letters)
- Fight quick brawl, vex jumpy dozens. (29 letters)
Ian Fry suggested making up a pangrammatic palindrome — a palindrome using all twenty-six letters. The theoretical minimum length would be fifty-one letters (every letter twice, except for one in the center).
Fifty-one letters would be damn tough. A few minutes thought resulted in the following pangrammatic palindrome, but it’s a wee bit longer than that. Here’s the setup: the narrator is speaking to his oriental father, named Li, who’s got tickets for a Roberta Flack concert. Li’s refusal to hand over these tickets earns him some odd epithets before our narrator turns to Aristotle Onassis to question the assertion that his mother and his sisters Janet and Inez are eccentric. Explaining that Saddam Hussein has arrested twelve foreigners, he suddenly realizes that a dessert that had been given away free with the Roberta Flack tickets might be a good thing to package up and sell to shepherds. OK, got it? Here goes:
Pop Li, give we tix, o boy! Drat! Suck calf! Ma, Jan, Inez — odd? Ah! Iraq, Ari, had dozen in a jam! Flack custard? Yo! Box it: Ewe vigil, Pop!
At the time I wrote that (early 1996, I think), I wrote,
95 letters. I’m sure someone can do better. Heck, I’m sure I could do better, given time.
What I’m not sure of is whether it can be done without using the word “Iraq”. I’m assuming “words” of one consonant, or words based on one-consonant roots (as in Mind your p’s and q’s) are not allowed. Of course, there are a couple of fictional characters around by the name of Q. Hmm.
Well, I haven’t been sufficiently inspired to try doing better yet, but Jeff Grant has. Here’s his 85-letter entry:
Bewareth gifts: a pyre vex a tide; Lo! Jack no mazes. “You quoy!” sez a monk. Cajoled, I tax every past fighter a web!— Jeff Grant, in Alphabet Avenue, Dave Morice, 1997 p100-101
As soon as I find out what a “quoy” is, I’ll let you know…