Thursday, December 28, 2017

Communicating just with flags or other signals


If you think that words are clumsy for communicating, try using only signal flags. Zach Weinersmith recently had a Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal cartoon on communication using signal flags where a single flag (or a pair) can carry a message. There are not really single rectangular red (anger), blue (sorrow) or green (happy?) flags in the maritime International Code of Signals. And a yellow flag isn’t stress - it means “My vessel is ‘healthy’ and I request free pratique (license to enter port)“ or it can be the letter Q (Quebec). But the white rectangle on a blue background can mean “my fishing nets are caught on an obstruction.”


A chart shows the letters and numerals in the International Code of Signals. These aren’t the only ways to signal. There was a sketch in the old Monty Python’s Flying Circus TV comedy show about The Semaphore Version of Wuthering Heights (which also included Julius Caesar on an Aldis Lamp, Gunfight at O.K. Corral in Morse Code, and the Smoke-Signal version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes).

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