Saturday, August 27, 2011

Morse Code, Part II

This is continued from a previous post on how I remember the signals for various letters in Morse code. So far we've done V B U D E T A N S H I and O. Here's the rest of the alphabet.

More Dashes

From the previous post on the topic, one dash is T, like the top of a capital T. Follow on from this to remember that two dashes is M, like serifs on the tops of an M. Okay no one draws an M that way, but you can imagine it. I have three more letters that I think of as dash-based, even though they aren't entirely made of dashes.

There's W which is a dot and two dashes: . _ _

You could think of that as E followed by M and concoct a story about the M saying "eee" because it was upside-down, turning it into a W, but I just hear it as "da WHIS KEY" like in the song, "Coulda been the whiskey, coulda been the gin ..."

Opposite to W is G: two dashes then a dot. If your name begins with G you can think of it as ME, but for non G-named folk it's "GO GO g!" Hey, I didn't say these were going to be really good ways to remember the letters.

My last dashy letter is J, a dot followed by three dashes (. _ _ _ ). It's the only letter that has three dashes and something else besides, and its the longest Morse letter. It was in the identifier of an airport that took a long time to get to while I was training. If the letter goes on for a long time and you can't remember what it is, maybe it's a J. Or maybe it's a number. I'll have to do those later.

Palindromes are Branchy

The letters with Morse the same backwards as forwards are the branchy letters. I continue to have weird ways of equating the dashes and dots with the shapes of the letters. K is a dash, a dot and a dash _._ and I just discovered that I can't put it in parentheses or it looks like an ASCII butt. That in itself is possibly more memorable than anything I can say next, but before I knew that, I thought of the dot as the upright of the K and the two dashes as the "branches" going off in different directions. X is like K but more so, with its branches going off in all directions, so it gets two dots in the middle. Imagine it an X-wing fighter _.._ if you like.

X and K ones have the dashes on the outside, but the curvy letters P and R have the dots on the outside. There's R ._. and then P ._ _. which is annoying, because the P ought to have one less dash than the R, to represent the fact that it is exactly like an R, except missing the little downwards branch. I've always had trouble with P.


Obviously you have to learn all the letters by rhythm eventually if you want to be any good at this, but some of them I know only by rhythm, because they say their own names, or something I can easily associate with them.

C _._. CHARlie CHARlie
F .._. Happy BirFday (you have to say it with a lisp)
Q _ _ . _ God save da Queen (I don't know if that works for non-commonwealth people)
Y _ . _ _ becomes instantly familiar to Canadian students, as it begins the identifier on almost every nav aid colocated with an airport, so you can't not recognize it. The few that don't begin with Z, and there's even a RUSH song commemorating YYZ, the main airport serving the Greater Toronto Metropolitan Area, that has the rhythm of YYZ in Morse, giving you also
Z _ _ ..

That leaves only L. I can never remember L. If I don't know what it is, it's L. . _ .. I try to say it as "a LOLlipop" but that's not working for me.

Later I'll do numbers. At first I thought, "ah, I don't need numbers and they look hard" but some nav aids do have numbers in their identifiers, and they are actually super easy.


Anonymous said...

L -" To hell with it" worked for me some thirty years ago when doing a professional exam.

Anoynmous said...

I remember a short-lived campaign long ago urging people to honk the Morse letter L for Litterbug at people throwing trash out their car windows: "no-LIT-ter-ing!" My own personal mnemonic for many months was simply the rhythm of a couple of letters from a nearby nav transmitter, LA: "diDAHdidit diDAH".

Alex said...

My father used Morse code in the Navy and taught it to me, and the memory aid for L was that L stood for Love- "di DAH di dit: the HELL with it."

Alistair said...

Thanks for your blog, it is always informative. Only problem this time is that it is going to shame me into getting my act together and put some effort into learning morse properly rather that just the scraps I can remember!

NavyOne said...

In the Navy, we used to have a "popular" NEC for it: 9169.

Now, I believe Morse has nearly gone away. . .