Saturday, October 13, 2007

-.-. --.- / -- --- .-. ... . / -.-. --- -.. . / --. . . -.- ...

Once again the WSJ comes through with a language-geeky article. This time it's about a guy who is into Morse Code in a big way:

Nostalgic for simpler days, retired astrophysicist Chuck Adams is translating classics of boys' lit into a language he fears is going the way of kit radios and marbles: Morse code.

Holed up in his high-desert home crammed with computers, radio receivers and a very patient wife, Mr. Adams uses homemade software to download online books with expired copyrights, convert the typed words into Morse code tones and record them on compact discs he sells on the Internet.

Like all Morse experts, Mr. Adams rarely breaks signals down into letters, instead hearing complete words much as readers recognize words on a page. When he transcribes a message at high speeds, his fingers are five or 10 words behind his ears. When he is "in the zone" he isn't even conscious of what he is transcribing, he says. He has to read it later to understand the message.

When he listens to one of his books, the code is like a voice speaking to him.

I bet learning to listen to books in Morse Code would be like learning a language, only a whole lot easier. I suppose you could teach yourself to read it too, sort of like Braille.

I remember my brother tapping out Morse Code as a teenager: -.-. --.- -.-. --.- -.. . .-- -... ----. Ham radio was sort of the ICQ of that time. Those who weren't dedicated/technical/geeky enough to get a ham license had to content themselves with CB radio, which was cheaper and didn't require taking tests to get a license.

... .. --. .... .---- / -. --- ... - .- .-.. --. .. .- / ... - .-. .. -.- . ... / .- --. .- .. -. .----

Posted at 17:32 PDT  Link | Tags: ,

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Babel Babble

Every so often I receive an email about a website offering to exchange links with my blog. These websites fall into 3 categories: language blogs, language learning/networking, or sites that want to sell a language-related product. Anything that smacks of advertising is discarded. ( is proudly ad-free!) Occasionally a website in one of the first two categories looks interesting. Such is Babelhut, a new language blog by two guys who are trying to motivate themselves and (hopefully) others in their language-learning efforts. Check it out!

Motivation is thin on the ground here. In fact, my language learning efforts these days resemble this cartoon:

(BTW, Bækur is Icelandic for "books", which fact I gleaned from this thread on the UniLang forum. (I tried to register on UniLang recently, but no matter which user name I chose, it responded with the stern message ERROR: An account for such a name already exists. (even for bizarre Russian concoctions). So I gave up and fired off an aggrieved email (which remains unanswered). (Note to self: Avoid excessive use of nested parentheses (8-p)) ))

Posted at 22:16 PDT  Link