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Author Topic: Teaching Morse syllabically  (Read 2955 times)
AB2T
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Posts: 246




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« on: July 28, 2010, 07:38:22 PM »

Has anyone created a method to teach Morse syllabically?  Japanese Wabun (kana in morse code) is an example of a syllabary adapted to code.  I am interested in a system that uses English syllable combinations to teach the code.  English is an alphabetic language, so unlike Japanese it does not rely on written syllables to convey meaning.  Spoken English does rely on stress and syllable.  Why not focus on syllables in code?

One of the things that slowed me down when learning code was the impulse to decode letter by letter. I eventually considered BR, DN, SK, KN, AR, es, de, rst etc. as characters in their own right.  Things became a lot easier when I started to listen for the combined characters or character set as a distinct entity and not a collection of letters.     

Wouldn't it be easier to teach people code by teaching syllables as characters?  First the letters and numbers would be taught using the Gordon West method (least to most complex letters).  The procedurals would taught as separate characters and not "run on letters".  Then syllables would be taught.  I am sure that linguistic studies have thoroughly dissected the frequency of syllabic combinations in English. 

The only difficulty with this is the sheer number of syllabic combinations in English.  This method would only teach the extremely common syllables that pertain to extremely common words used on the air.  This would help the operator begin to recognize common words on the air and decode harder ragchew sentences.  The bulk of vocabulary building would take place during QSO's and listening.

Spoken language quickly progresses beyond single letter decoding.  Why should Morse learning emphasize single letters?  Not all code learners would have to learn syllables.  Some might do just fine with traditional methods.  Yet a syllabic approach to code might benefit some that have difficulty learning to recognize words and sentences in QSOs.

73, Jordan



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WB2WIK
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2010, 07:57:32 PM »

I think this would make an interesting study, and if you have the time and ambition, go for it!

The funny thing is, I've taught code classes for many years at high schools, night schools, adult schools and vocational schools and never found anyone who couldn't learn code just by listening to it, and learn it very quickly -- UNLESS they had already heard it was hard to do.  If they heard that, it was a big obstacle and some didn't succeed at all.

The typical housewife or kid who never heard anything about code one way or the other learned it just fine in 2-3 classes.

The power of suggestion is, well, powerful.

If someone tells you you can't swim because it's very, very hard -- and you hear that from the time you're 2 years old until you're 6 years old...and then you try to swim, it will be nearly impossible because it's just too hard.

If someone tosses you in a pool at the age of two and doesn't tell you anything, you'll swim to the edge.

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WX7G
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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2010, 06:31:25 AM »

This is an excellent idea! I'll give it a try as part of my code speed improvement work.

I've been listening to a book sent in code at a speed that exceeds my present capabilityto copy solid. I am copying more and more each day and part of that is catching things such as OUGH, FULLY, and so on. What makes the book challenging for me to copy is that the words are not resticted to the common ham words and phrases used in the standard short CW qso.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2010, 06:36:31 AM by DAVE CUTHBERT » Logged
AE4RV
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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2010, 07:25:33 AM »

I've added common syllables (diphthongs really) like 'ing' 'th' 'thr' 'qu' 'sh' 'sm' 'thr' etc. to a copy of the simple word list in my copy of the G4FON Koch trainer. I must say I haven't used that file much so I've no news for you other than that. It seems like a good idea.
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W0XI
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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2010, 04:34:25 PM »

 Smiley Hi Jordan [AB2T] et al:

Amazing. I just spent the last two days researching this exact topic. Had a long discussion with my biology prof son-in-law and with his experience with linguistic courses as an undergrad. Here's some of what I've looked at:

I took the 100 most common English words (found in morse-mail) to see how many could be broken into syllables, turns out only 11 to my disappointment. WX7G's comment is interesting too. Words used in written text and language are likely different than the top 100 "words" (including prosigns) used in ham QSOs. That leaves us with only 11 syllables to form/add from the 100 common words list to our G4FOM or Justusemorsecode programs for "QSO study" ; perhaps not much of an impact for those using the code for QSOs only. (I don't really know). For article and book readers syllables might be more helpful - I'm one of those weird dudes. Wanna do that!

Here are some facts gathered from Google searches:
*The average adult reads at 250-300 WPM,
*Auctioneers speed talk at about 250 WPM,
*Audio books are taped at ~ 150 WPM, a comfortable listening rate,
*A competent typist can copy at 60 WPM,
*The average adult writes comfortably at about 30 WPM.

Clearly we can copy syllables at our syllabic rate. Our mind combines that with context and known information (I'm told in Broca's area of the brain) to make meaning of what's said. I don't know how that rate compares with appropriate combinations of code letters. Clearly the sound of those code letters would be a different sound that what we hear from syllables. However, after learn those or common sounds put together?Huh

Interesting stuff. 73s. Phli, W0XI.


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K7KBN
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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2010, 04:37:30 PM »

I use wabun fairly regularly in QSOs with Japanese hams.  It sometimes catches them off guard, but for most purposes I can stay with them at 20 WPM (or SPM?).  Beyond common exchange information my fledgling attempts begin to flag, but being here on the west coast means JA openings are pretty frequent.  So I keep plugging away.

What started me on wabun was I'd hear JAs calling "CQ -..---", and my mind translated that as "CQ NJ" -- but there was no New Jersey QSO Party scheduled!  So I asked some of my JA friends for an explanation, and the snail mail soon started coming in with the equivalent of "Wabun for Gaijin".

It's a process.  I hope your efforts go well, although as you observed, what works in a syllabic mode might be difficult to model in an alphabetic mode.

Good luck!

73
Pat K7KBN
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
AB2T
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Posts: 246




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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2010, 07:22:12 PM »

Smiley Hi Jordan [AB2T] et al:

Amazing. I just spent the last two days researching this exact topic. Had a long discussion with my biology prof son-in-law and with his experience with linguistic courses as an undergrad. Here's some of what I've looked at:

I took the 100 most common English words (found in morse-mail) to see how many could be broken into syllables, turns out only 11 to my disappointment. WX7G's comment is interesting too. Words used in written text and language are likely different than the top 100 "words" (including prosigns) used in ham QSOs. That leaves us with only 11 syllables to form/add from the 100 common words list to our G4FOM or Justusemorsecode programs for "QSO study" ; perhaps not much of an impact for those using the code for QSOs only. (I don't really know). For article and book readers syllables might be more helpful - I'm one of those weird dudes. Wanna do that!

Hi Phil,

Thanks for the great post.  I also practice plain-text by loading a book into a morse program.  "Books on CW" is nice when you've got your hands full with something else.  Of course, the syllabic range of Shakespeare, Dickens, or any public domain book in Project Gutenberg is huge.  Even casual "CW reading" sharpens syllabic ability.  I find that 15-17 wpm is a comfortable read-listening rate.  20 wpm is a bit tricker but more rewarding.

The 11 syllable range of QSO's isn't that much of a problem.  Early CW learners will have to learn the monosyllabic words as whole particles anyway.  All CW listening is a blend of monosyllabic and polysyllabic comprehension.

Does your son know more about the whole language vs. phonics debate in elementary ed?  I learned to read at home before kindergarten, so I didn't participate in a structured reading program.  A "whole language" CW program might work, but would probably take longer than a syllabic program.  The syllabic program provides the "word chunks" for the learner, while "whole language" relies on inference and context.  Who knows?  Maybe "whole CW" would work for some and "syllabic CW" would work for others.

I study classical languages in grad school.  When I tutor Latin I always make sure that the student learns the declensions (noun endings) and conjugations as stems and endings, not whole words.  In other words, the stems "plug into" ending systems that are usually regular patterns.  Since CW "the language" is mostly monosyllabic, a stem and ending approach might not work well.  But for polysyllabic words such as gerunds, stem and ending works quite well.

This is a very fascinating topic!     

I use wabun fairly regularly in QSOs with Japanese hams.  It sometimes catches them off guard, but for most purposes I can stay with them at 20 WPM (or SPM?).  Beyond common exchange information my fledgling attempts begin to flag, but being here on the west coast means JA openings are pretty frequent.  So I keep plugging away.

What started me on wabun was I'd hear JAs calling "CQ -..---", and my mind translated that as "CQ NJ" -- but there was no New Jersey QSO Party scheduled!  So I asked some of my JA friends for an explanation, and the snail mail soon started coming in with the equivalent of "Wabun for Gaijin".

It's a process.  I hope your efforts go well, although as you observed, what works in a syllabic mode might be difficult to model in an alphabetic mode.

Good luck!

73
Pat K7KBN

Hi Pat,

It's awesome that you are teaching yourself Wabun.  I'm sure you're one of a very select group of Westerners that has taken the time to learn a non-Latin morse alphabet.

Are there Wabun one syllabic equivalents for very common Latin-alphabet morse code words?  For example, wid, cuagn, tnx and the like?  One unique and fascinating aspect of Japanese is the combination of kanji and kana to create unambiguous words.  There are plenty of homonyms in Japanese.  Pure kana writing often presents ambiguities that cannot be solved by context alone.  Kanji often forms the stem of verbs, for example.  I wonder how Wabun gets around word ambiguities.  This is a bit OT but also fascinating.

73, Jordan AB2T/VA3AIT   
« Last Edit: July 29, 2010, 07:25:19 PM by Jordan » Logged
W0XI
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Posts: 67




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« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2010, 06:55:33 AM »

Jordon

"Does your son know more about the whole language vs. phonics debate in elementary ed?" No. My son-in-law is a biology prof (cell biology); not it Ed. My wife taught Jr High and did the Ed thing. I'll ask her about the reading debate.

YES. This is a fascinating subject. My background is  Elect. Engineering. Glad to hear you're doing the grad thing. Enjoy the ride! It goes by so quickly. Might be interesting to combine our talents: your linquistics and my studies earlier on information coding. Glenn Prescott (EE chair now at the local U) and I invented to protocol G-TOR for HF Digital communications. You'll find it and my callsign in the index of the ARRL Handbook. Hi.

I just wonder if there is a mapping of CW "sounds" that would convey the CW message sent. I'm thinking of sounds like THE, THAT, THEY and  HE HIS, etc. 73s. Phil. W0XI.
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W0XI
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Posts: 67




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« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2010, 01:33:44 PM »

"Does your son know more about the whole language vs. phonics debate in elementary ed?"

I just read over some wiki stuff briefly exploring this debate. Hm. Sounding out might help in breaking some longer words down into recognizable CW combo sounds....but not in sentence cognition....

Google <morse code music> and see how it converts to neat rythms....yea OT.

Phil.
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K7KBN
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Posts: 2766




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« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2010, 09:30:54 PM »


Hi Pat,

It's awesome that you are teaching yourself Wabun.  I'm sure you're one of a very select group of Westerners that has taken the time to learn a non-Latin morse alphabet.

Are there Wabun one syllabic equivalents for very common Latin-alphabet morse code words?  For example, wid, cuagn, tnx and the like?  One unique and fascinating aspect of Japanese is the combination of kanji and kana to create unambiguous words.  There are plenty of homonyms in Japanese.  Pure kana writing often presents ambiguities that cannot be solved by context alone.  Kanji often forms the stem of verbs, for example.  I wonder how Wabun gets around word ambiguities.  This is a bit OT but also fascinating.

73, Jordan AB2T/VA3AIT   

Hi Jordan-

I've never encountered much intermingling of wabun and generic Morse "fillers" such as "es", "pse" and the others you listed.  Numbers and punctuation are pretty much the same, as far as my limited experience with wabun goes.  I have heard some lengthy QSOs on 40M, carried on in continuous wabun between two or three very good JA operators.  They've been at or near 40 WPM, where I wouldn't have any trouble with straight Morse, but I've had to record it and play it back at half speed to be able to make any sense of it. 

Still, the sound patterns even at the higher speeds stand out.  "Watashi" (with the "ku" left out to save half a millisecond!), "anata" "desu", the particle "ka" -- at least I can recognize a question!

And I'm not by any means fluent in Japanese, nor can I read much Kanji.  During one visit to the home of JA1ISA in Isehara, Masao's youngest daughter gave me a present which I still have and cherish.  "Katakana no Hon" is the title, and it's one of the very first books Kanako used in her school, showing the proper way to write each of the katakana characters.  In an earlier visit, she had noticed that I didn't write them in the correct sequence.  NOW I know better!

Sorry for the long post.  If you want to contact me off eHam, try my call at comcast dot net.

73
Pat K7KBN
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
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