Mar 04

Ciphers, Codes, Cryptograms and Shorthand

In the previous post I shared information about non-verbal communication. There you can find links to learn more about Body Language, Gestures, Hand Signals and Sign Language. In this post I will share info about other forms of communication.

For example; Smoke Signals are one of the oldest forms of sending messages in a code form.

International Morse Code was originally developed for the electric telegraph. This was before the telephone was invented. Developed by Samuel Morse and his assistant Alfred Vail as a way of condensing the alphabet into a series of representative dots and dashes (sometimes referred to as “dits and dahs”) to be transmitted via wire. The basics of Morse Code can be seen in the chart below. Perhaps the most widely recognized signal in this form of code is; SOS or Morse Code … – – – … which is the international signal for distress – meaning HELP we have an emergency.

A ·­ N ­· 1 ·­­­­ Ñ ­­·­­ N with tilde
B ­··· O ­­­ 2 ··­­­ Ö ­­­· O with umlaut
C ­·­· P ·­­· 3 ···­­ Ü ··­­ U with umlaut
D ­·· Q ­­·­ 4 ····­ , ­­ ··­ ­ comma
E · R ·­· 5 ····· . ·­·­·­ period
F ··­· S ··· 6 ­···· ? ··­­·· question mark
G ­­· T ­ 7 ­­··· ; ­·­·­ semicolon
H ···· U ··­ 8 ­­­·· : ­­­··· colon
I ·· V ···­ 9 ­­­­· / ­··­· slash
J ·­­­ W ·­­ 0 ­­­­­ ­····­ dash
K ­·­ X ­··­ Á ·­­·­ A with accent ·­­­­· apostrophe
L ·­·· Y ­·­­ Ä ·­·­ A with umlaut () ­·­­·­ parenthesis
M ­­ Z ­­·· É ··­·· E with accent _ ··­­·­ underline


The NATO phonetic alphabet is another form of code to help avoid communication errors when speaking on a two-way radio.

Alpha.svg A Alfa Foxtrot.svg F Foxtrot Kilo.svg K Kilo Papa.svg P Papa Uniform.svg U Uniform Zulu.svg Z Zulu
Bravo.svg B Bravo Golf.svg G Golf Lima.svg L Lima Quebec.svg Q Quebec Victor.svg V Victor
Charlie.svg C Charlie Hotel.svg H Hotel Mike.svg M Mike Romeo.svg R Romeo Whiskey flag.svg W Whiskey
Delta.svg D Delta India.svg I India November.svg N November Sierra.svg S Sierra Xray.svg X X-ray
Echo.svg E Echo Juliet.svg J Juliett Oscar.svg O Oscar Tango.svg T Tango Yankee.svg Y Yankee


Sometimes referred to as the Alfa – Zulu alphabet. The chart above also shows the corresponding ship flags for signalling to other sailing vessels and this is a form of semaphore which is another type of code that employs the use of flags.

Cryptography is another form of code. Geocaching was the topic of another earlier post and cryptograms were mentioned as an element in one form of the game.

Writing shorthand (stenography) as opposed to cursive (long hand writing – not printed) Here’s a great link for teaching cursive to children. When I was a child in school we were graded on penmanship. It is funny how skills such as long-hand writing fall away when they are not used. It is a rare thing when I hand-write a letter to anyone and in fact, some years ago I determined that my handwriting was not easy for others to read. So, I began printing whenever the occasion arose to write a note.

Finally, go to this very informative link from the Khan Academy to learn more about Ciphers and Codes.

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