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Codes and signals
August 2, 2012 8:19 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in learning about types of codes and signals that people use to translate language in various circumstances.

I'm looking for types of codes and languages that people use for various reasons to communicate spoken language into various forms.

Examples off the top of my head would be morse code, semaphore flags, smoke signals, and sign language. These aren't secret languages per se, but take a given spoken language, and translate them in a sort of code.

Are there others like this that exist?
posted by Sreiny to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Most of your examples are in the wikipedia category Latin-alphabet_representations.
posted by zamboni at 8:29 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Semaphore towers were used in the 18th and 19th century, most famously in France. They were basically a relayed, architectural version of a bunch of guys standing on mountaintops waving at each other.

Distant West African villages communicated with one another via talking drums, which used a highly redundant version of encoded speech.

Both of those examples are from The Information by James Gleick, which you'd probably enjoy.
posted by theodolite at 8:29 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yodeling comes to mind.
posted by Michele in California at 8:41 AM on August 2, 2012


Shorthand and court stenography.
posted by Gungho at 8:44 AM on August 2, 2012


I'm going to get all pedantic on you and point out that you're talking about some different phenomena.

American sign language is a different language than English. It's got a different grammar and everything. You really need to translate between the two. Signed English is really just a signed representation of English, and so the process of getting between English and Signed English is really more like transcription.

Stuff like semaphore, braille, stenotyping, Gregg shorthand, etc, are really just using an alternative set of symbols or media to represent English (or whatever), allowing for some different conventions peculiar to that medium. There's no translation involved. You can do word-for-word, and even letter-for-letter substitutions between them.

One of my favorite examples of this sort of thing is Volapuk encoding.
posted by adamrice at 8:45 AM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks adamrice, you are correct. I didn't know enough about the subject to articulate the question correctly.

Stuff like semaphore, braille, stenotyping, Gregg shorthand, etc, are really just using an alternative set of symbols or media to represent English (or whatever), allowing for some different conventions peculiar to that medium. There's no translation involved. You can do word-for-word, and even letter-for-letter substitutions between them.

That's what I'm after, thanks.
posted by Sreiny at 8:50 AM on August 2, 2012


Well, here's a Wikipedia list of character encodings:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Character_encoding

You get that when you search for ASCII on Wikipedia.
posted by chengjih at 8:59 AM on August 2, 2012


Here are some alternative scripts for English, including the wonderfully weird Shavian alphabet.
posted by theodolite at 9:02 AM on August 2, 2012


I just noticed that list is missing the Deseret alphabet, invented by the Mormons ostensibly to "improve literacy" but actually to make sacred texts look mysterious and awesome.
posted by theodolite at 9:05 AM on August 2, 2012


Shavian alphabet.

92 Code.

Baudot Code (source of the term "baud rate").
posted by flug at 9:29 AM on August 2, 2012


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