Friday, August 19, 2005


rr tnx fer calling. ur rst 599 5nn fb sig, qth ellensburg, wa IMI ellensburg, wa BT name hr is christopher IMI christopher, age 46 es hv been a ham fer 3 yrs. hw copi? AR ...*

The preceding is not an excerpt from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, but an example of a typical initial Morse code contact.

I have always been a stickler for proper spelling, resistant to acronyms, un-necessary abbreviations, and other such abuses of our fair language. Using Morse code has helped to break me from some of these pet peeves. (Though I do vehemently avoid the chat rooms where the lol, asl? brb and rotflmao's make me physically sick.)

Abbreviating, acronyms and special codes in Morse code make sense. You are transmitting single characters at a rate determined by your capability...reception may be rough and time is of the essence. So why say fer instead of for? Not because most Morse code operators are hicks, but because the letter O is three long 'dahs' and e is one short (dit) also the combination of letters making up fer has a more distinctive sound when combined than for. It being a commonly used word it makes sense to shorten it and make it more easily recognizable.

(Here's a list of Morse code abbreviations.)

I'm still not over all my peeves. I still correct the checker at the convenience store when they say "please enter your PIN Number." I still avoid reading the attempted censoring of subject lines in my junk mail folder. And I abhor the street-speak, ghetto-talk, or whatever you call it in a lot of RAP. I have heard from many blacks that language touted by many rappers as "cool" has always been indicative of lower-class and under-educated.

We seem to have as many variations in the English language as Elton John has sunglasses. I'm probably showing my out-of-touchness by admitting I ran into a new (to me) term this last week. Indie. At first I thought it may refer to something related to the culture of the West Indies, but informed me it is short for Independant. I did not find it in my Webster's Collegiate.

It used to be, for a word to become a part of accepted use, it had to endure the long road to being admitted into Webster's, now, the official language can change as quickly as a webpage can be updated.

I had to laugh (not OL) as I read about the Indie music scene, which some suggest gained it's foothold when the Ditzy Chicks proved they could make it without Sony. (Now Sony has their own 'Indie' division. and the DC's have proved they can make it while making seditious remarks about our leaders in foreign countries.) I remember my days running with bikers, there were always those who did not want to be affiliated with the HA's, the Bandidos or any such other "Outlaw" group and referred to themselves as independent. It struck me as oxymoronic that in order to not be associated they needed a label.

Also, our nearest Major League Baseball team the Seattle Mariners have for years been fond of shortening the players names with the cutsie suffix -ie. Cammie, Boonie, Nellie, and Shiggie to name a few. Ichiro is safe from this endearing moniker modification, but not so with Richie Sexon. Yes, they're calling him Sexie. So my reaction to the indie music biz is that it's cute.

Words (or werds) are changing quickly these days. I have given up thinking I could be the semantic cop I once aspired to, and as far as grammar? I once heard "the nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them." This seems to still hold true with our language. Thanks to the efficient language of Morse code for breaking me of my obsession. (I'm still not gg indie tho)

*(Translation of first paragraph: roger roger thanks for calling. Your receivability/signal-strength/tone 599 599 fine business signal, my location is Ellensburg, WA I repeat Ellensburg, WA BREAK Name here is Christopher I repeat Christopher, age 46 and have been a ham for 3 years. How copy? end of message...)


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