RE: A Search for Exemplary Sentences

From: Edward Cherlin (
Date: Wed Nov 18 1998 - 03:33:46 EST

At 7:17 PM -0800 11/17/98, Massimo Fuchs wrote:
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Rick McGowan []
>> Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 1998 4:19 PM
>> To: Unicode List
>> Subject: A Search for Exemplary Sentences
>> Unicoders...
>> Suppose you had only one sentence, gleaned from the corpus of "classical
>> literature" or poetry of your exalted mother tongue, in which to
>> capture that
>> language's beauty and cultural essence. What would it be? What sentence
>> sums up everything? What great aphorism makes the patriotic
>> pulses pound and
>> sets all eyes to watering?
>The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog.
> -- Unkown.

Vext cwm fly zing jabs Kurd Qoph, if you're going to be like that about it.

[Bennett Cerf said in "Try and Stop Me" that two writers once argued for a
full weekend whether the finest sentence in the English language was, "No
date has been set for the wedding," or "We can sleep all day tomorrow."]

Anyway, I'm game.

My vote for English goes to

"Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this
continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal."

Please note that the word "men" is in principle the inclusive use most
clearly demonstrated in the textbook which proclaimed,

"Man is a mammal and suckles his young."

I would also like to cast a vote for the Middle English sentence

"A yere yeres full yerne, and yeldes naver like."

(Approximately, "A year passes very quickly, and never comes again.")

This line, from _Gawain and the Green Knight_, invites us to imagine Sir
Gawain's state of mind as he waits for a full year before going as promised
to have his head chopped off. If you don't know the story, I won't spoil it
for you.

For Hebrew, it has to be, "v'ahavta et adonai elohecho..." ("Thou shalt
love the Lord thy God...") the Torah text enclosed in every mezuzah.

For Russian, it has to be Pushkin, and among Pushkin, I nominate the first
stanza of his Insomnia Verses (stihi napisano vo vremye bessonitsi),

Mnye nye spitsa, nyet ognya,
Fsyudu mrak i son dokuchnyi;
Hot chasov lish odnozvuchnyi
razdayotsa bliz menya."

˞ Ǖ ˖

. ӓ;
Ҝ ϕ ۗ;
Ӓ ˯ Ӕۗ

(If any of that got through--I'm using a Macintosh Cyrillic font, if that
helps.) I'm not giving you code points at least until after I check my

Chinese: The opening of the Lao Zi, "Dao ke dao fei chang dao." ('Way can
way not eternal way', or perhaps, "The path that can be followed is not the
true path.")

Latin: "Carthago delenda est."

Greek: "Eureka!"

Japanese: the old "alphabet" verse (with one of each kana) by the great
Buddhist teacher Kukai, who invented the kana. The text contains the
sequence of syllables

I-ro-ha ni-ho-he-to
Ti-ri-nu-ru wo
Wa-ka yo ta-re so
Tu-ne na-ra-mu
U-wi no o-ku-ya-ma
Ke-hu ko-e-te
A-sa-ki yu-me mi-si
We-hi mo se-zu

which is actually read

Irowa nioedo,
Chirinuru o.
Waga yo tare zo
Tsune naran.
Ui no okuyama
Kyou koete
Asaki yume miji
Ei mo sezu.

and means

Colors are so fragrant,
But soon they fade away.
In our world no matter who
You are, you cannot stay.

The towering peak of What and Why
If you cross today,
Shallow dreams and drunkenness
Are no more in your way.

(my translation)

Pali: Buddham saranam gacchami. (I go to the Buddha as refuge.)

Buddhist Sanskrit: Om mani padme hum. (Om, the jewel in the lotus, hail.)

Hindu Sanskrit: Neti, neti.

Edward Cherlin                        President
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