Semaphore Flag Signaling Alphabet questions

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Flag Discussion' started by LFRyder, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. LFRyder

    LFRyder New Member

    I am writing a paper about Claude Chappe and it goes into the Semaphore flag system. The semaphore alphabet uses a pretty standard clock-type coding system. However, the question I have is: Why are J and Y completely out of sequence?

    Also, why is Y, Annul, Numeric, and J inserted between U and V? I have tried to figure this out even looking back into the original form of Latin letters to see if that might be a possibility but I have become pretty stumped. I don't understand why these letters and "symbols" be out of order, thus making it harder to learn. I would really appreciate the help. Thanks.

    For a better example of them being out of order, you can check out:

  2. coasterville

    coasterville Member

    That's a very interesting question and one I don't have an answer for. I do know that those two letters can easily trip up someone who is learning what is otherwise a real simple staightforward pattern.

    I have a coulple sets of semaphore signal flags in my flag curiosities collection:
    The top white and reddish orange set came to me used from eBay. Note the flags are smaller than the other set, but the handles are quite long. From what I have been told, that is a training aid. The idea is that the position of your arms is as important as the flags themsevles, maybe even moreso since it is possible to signal without the flags at all in a pinch. The idea is you hold the handles up near the flags, so the long handles rest up against your arm as an aid to remind you to keep your arms staight. I have no evidence of that, but that's what I have been told. The seller had it grouped with a lot of Boy Scouting paraphanalia.

    The bottom set (yellow/red) I bought new from somebody who was actually selling International Code of Signals flags and had these as well.

    Again, don't know how true it is, but I've been told the white/red pattern was for on land use (hence why you see it on eBay in Army Signal Corps sets and Boy Scouting), and the yellow/red is for nautical use since the yellow is better to see at sea.

    So yes, I have semaphore flags, yes I know the alphabet, but don't rely on me to signal at any decent speed.
  3. Dopey

    Dopey New Member

    (A little bit off subject, but...)
    The semaphore alphabet gave us an iconic, though completely misunderstood, symbol of the late 20th century -- the so-called "peace" symbol. The symbol originated in France in 1958, w/ a group that was opposed to nuclear proliferation. They superimposed semaphore stick figures of the letters "N" and "D", which stands for Nuclear Disarmament.
    So I like to ask teens who are wearing peace sign jewelry if they are really for nuclear disarmament -- I get lots of weird looks.

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