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Lost along the way

February 26, 2012

Ogham StoneAfter writing yesterday’s post, I remembered four more alphabet systems I half-learned as a child, but have basically forgotten through lack of use. Ogham came up several times in school, as of local and historical interest, and Arthur Ransome‘s Swallows and Amazons series inspired me to want to learn both Semaphore and the nautical flag alphabet. (I can still read mirror writing!)  Morse Code may have come up in those too, but if not, it certainly did in other stories I liked. As I said yesterday, with enough motivation for the required application it wouldn’t take more than a couple of days to get to know those better than I ever did as a child, but really I don’t need any of them at the moment.

More of a pity not to have learned more of is Irish Sign Language. Some friends arranged ten weekly lessons for us when we were in school, and although we had a very good teacher and enjoyed the classes, somehow the sessions never got renewed, probably because none of us had the opportunity to use the language with anyone but our teacher. As I was taught in my linguistics degree, sign languages meet all the same criteria as other natural languages, (this is not the fact for manually coded versions of spoken languages) and they aren’t all the same. For that reason, if I were to find an opportunity/motivation/need to learn one now, it would likely be Israeli Sign Language, or whichever one used by my expected interlocuters.

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