A few years ago I thought it would be interesting to try and write a sentence that consisted of
26 words in alphabetical order. I also thought that it would be interesting if several people
did the same thing so that we could compare sentences. I theorized that, if enough people
tried this, we might be able to look at their sentences and notice similarities. Particularly,
I thought that people might tend to use the same words for letters such as "Q", "X" and "Z", since they have
fewer possibilities. [Similarly, I remember playing the alphabet game in the car as a child
while traveling cross-country with my family. When it came to the letter "Q", our only hope was
to see a Dairy Queen or a billboard for Quaker State.] Next I surmised that if two people used
the same word for a certain letter they might also use the same word for the letter before or after it.
Thus was my great hypothesis.
Originally, the only other person I could get to attempt this with me was my brother, Chris. So the experiment ended up with only two sentences, and that is not exactly a lot of data to study. As you can see in our sentences (linked below), my prediction was not fulfilled. Our sentences do not match for the letters "Q", "X" or "Z". However, they do match, surprisingly, for the first two letters: "A" and "B". Hmmm...
[ Chris and I have since come up with a NEW VERSION of this game as well. If you are interested, please check it out! ]
Since then, I have received more examples of these sentences from several people. Now I have a little more data to use to compare people's word choices. I actually received many more submissions than I chose to use, however, because many of them did not fit the parameters that I had set. First of all, the sentences have to make sense grammatically. They don't have to make practical, reasonable, possible or logical sense, but they must be a real sentence and not just a fragment or a list of alphabetical words. Second, they cannot rely too heavily on proper nouns. Several submissions used more than one proper name and I think that is just too easy and, therefore, cheating. And third, you might be surprised to learn how many submissions I received in which the word "extreme" was used for, and therefore spelled starting with, the letter "x".
So, I put all of the sample sentences into a TABLE to help me compare the words in these sentences. After reviewing this table I made several interesting discoveries, including:
For the word beginning with "x", 80% of the sentences used some variation of either the word "x-ray" or "xenophobe".
For the word beginning with "y", 20% of the sentences used the word "youthful" while an additional 20% used the word "young". Another 20% used the word "your" and another 20% used the word "yelling".
For the word beginning with "p", 40% of the sentences used some variation of the word "people".
For the word beginning with "a", 40% of the sentences simply used the word "a", but for the word beginning with "i", only 10% of the sentences simply used the word "I". (And the sentence that used the word "I" was not one of the sentences that began with the word "a".)
For the word beginning with "l", 50% of the sentences used an action verb ending in "-ing".
So, if you would like to try to write your own 26-word alphabetical sentence, please do. And I hope that you will e-mail me and share it. If you like, just let me know and I will also put your sentence up on this website (with your name credited, if you so desire). If you plan to write your own sentence, I recommend that you NOT read our examples below because that might artificially alter our results regarding the similarity of word choices for certain letters. But, for those of you that don't plan on trying to write your own, but would like to see what ours look like, please feel free to READ OUR SENTENCES. Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by.