We are sixty percent complete in our year long challenge, and for week thirty we were asked to letter a pangram. A pangram is a sentence that utilized all twenty-six letters of the alphabet. If you ever took typing class you probably remember the most commonly known pangram, ‘the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’. I decided to make up my own after my husband told me who was going to use extra carrots in the meatloaf for dinner. I must admit I had fun trying to figure words and foods that would make some sort of sense.
Having to write a sentence that uses all twenty-six letters made me think about language and how we truly use it. As a calligrapher I write words all the time. The more impact the words have the more I enjoy creating beautiful letters to help portray their meaning. The pangram I wrote is silly and makes little sense, yet it fits the bill, it utilizes all twenty six to convert some sort of idea. I’m not sure people who have English as a second language would get how the point of this exercise, or want to taste this nasty julip.
When people can speak multiple languages they usually converse in around fifteen hundred words. That means most of us use that amount or less everyday of our lives. No matter the language that same rule applies, fifteen hundred words. Sounds like a lot and yet in actuality it is only a sliver of the amount of words out there. The current dictionary has 171,469 English words, which sadly means we use less than one percent of them on a regular basis.
So if we use less than one percent of the available words on a regular basis, how well are we actually communicating? If we utilized more words would it mean we were smarter, better speakers, or even more productive in how we speak to others? Or would we be that person who talks and everyone stops listening because they don’t have any idea of what the words being spoken mean? More words doesn’t mean better communication. Being able to communicate is more about listening than the number of words. It took a pangram to remind me that letters and words are only as good as what the audience understands, what they can listen to and absorb. We don’t always need more words, we need to focus on making sure our message is understood.