People around the world speak several languages yet they find many different ways communicating thru time. Although it is not possible for people to learn all the languages spoken around the world, the advent of communication technologies, information technology and globalization allowed the world to know more about what languages other people speak. Translators and interpreters play a huge role in facilitating communication between individuals and organizations.
The social life of humankind has always been affected by communication. Since it is not possible to have face-to-face communication all the time, people in the past have developed different ways to communicate. While the methods changed depending on the changes in the living conditions of people, it is evident that their technological inventions allowed them to communicate. It could be smoke signals, carrier pigeons, and drums and so on.
Would you like to know how people in the past sent messages to one another through long distances? There are various ways and during the times that they were being used, they were very effective. They also showed the skills, creativity and technological knowledge of the people who invented them.
Unique ways in communicating thru time
With the proliferation of modern technology today, most people, especially the millennials will quickly think of texting as the means of communication. This means communicating not only through mobile phone but through different types of mobile apps, social media messaging platforms and email. Add video calls into the mix. These tools for communication connect individuals and cultures around the world today.
But the way to communicate before was not as straightforward as it is today. So let's check out the different ways of communicating our ancestors used. They may be unusual but they were very effective during their time.
Sending smoke signals is one of the oldest methods to communicate. You've probably seen it in cowboys and Indian movies where Native Americans sent smoke signals to members of their tribe. Smoke signals are used to send warnings of danger, news and to call tribe or community members to gather.
However, sending smoke signals is not exclusive to Native Americans. Several other ancient cultures used the same communication method. In Ancient China, soldiers who guarded the Great Wall of China used smoke signals to alert other soldiers at different parts of the wall when an enemy approached.
Sometime in 150 BC, a complicated smoke signal system using the alphabet was invented and used by the Greeks. Instead of tied dried grass bundles used by Native Americans, the Greeks used torches. Smoke signals were portable and because they were long burning, smoke signals could be sent from anywhere at any time. For the Native Americans, smoke signals sent from the highest point indicated danger, while when they were sent from the middle of the hill they signified safety.
If the messages had to be delivered over long distances, they set up a chain of fires so the message could be delivered by relay.
Carrier or homing pigeons
Carrier pigeons or pigeon post started in Ancient Persia. However, the communication system is still used by photographers and hobbyists up to this day.
Homing pigeons are used for this method of communicating as they instinctively find their way back from where they came. They were very effectively utilized during WWI and WWII.
Did you know that one particular carrier pigeon received a bravery award in WWI? Cher Ami, a homing pigeon, was given the Croix de Guerre medal. The pigeon was indeed very brave. She was shot and as a result, she lost one leg and her sight, but she managed to deliver a critical message to the American troops. Her bravery saved close to 200 stranded American soldiers on October 3, 1918.
Britain donated Cher Ami to the U.S. Army Signal Corps stationed in France. She received training from Enoch Clifford Swain, from the army's signal corps. She was sent to the United States after the U.S. Army medics treated her wounds. In 1931 Cher Ami was inducted to the Hall of Fame of Racing Pigeons.
Samuel Morse invented the Morse code in the early part of the 1800s. It transmits encrypted messages in a natural language with dots and dashes. It is a form of communication that can be sent acoustically and visually. A receiver can listen to the short and long dits and dahs or receive the message through light flashes. The Morse code found many uses in commercial and military aviation, shipping, amateur radio operation and more.
Did you know that Morse code has an extension to support those languages that have more than 26 letters? Morse code was used for 160 years. The French Navy stopped using the system on January 31, 1997, and the U.S. sent its final transmission on July 12, 1999. However, Morse code is still used by amateur radio operators. Ten people each year are still trained by the United States Air Force in Morse code since 2015.
Although the widespread use of Morse code has already ceased, the public can still use it, especially during emergencies by sending an SOS, in whatever way they can – toggling a flashlight, flashing a mirror or turning a radio on and off.
Morse code is still quite useful as an assistive technology, particularly for people with motion disabilities, with the help of interpreters. Several cases have been recorded where Morse code through blinking of the eyes saved the lives of people who suffered a stroke, and even a prisoner of war.
More than 200 individual languages are used by the Australian Aborigines. But they do not have a writing system so their messages are not recorded. What's significant is that their unique style of art has become a natural part of their inter-tribal communications.
For several millennia, Aboriginal messengers carry sticks that were painted or carved. They use the sticks as their ID. At times, they use it for announcements using images and symbols that surprisingly are understood by neighboring tribes despite the difference in the languages they speak. Think of present-day emojis that are used for communication!
Do still remember the TV series, "Prison Break?" In the series, one of the brothers, Michael Scofield had an elaborate tattoo all over his body showing the floor plan of the entire prison facility.
It looked amazing but the idea is not new.
Histiaeus, a tyrant from Persia devised a plan to start a revolution in 499 BC by shaving the head of his slave. He then tattooed a secret message on the head and waited for the hair to grow back. The slave was sent to meet his nephew, Aristagoras. He was instructed to shave the head of the slave to read the message, which told him to start an uprising against the Persians, ending with the attack and burning of Sardis (present day Sart in Turkey).
Hidden tattoos are still considered one of the cleverest means of sending messages securely.
Around the Swiss Alps, yodeling is quite common. It's a great way to communicate across wide areas. Originally, alpine shepherds used yodeling to call the flock they were tending. They also yodel when they want to communicate with friends across the valleys. Today, it is part of the musical tradition in the Alps.
Yodeling is a type of singing that involves repeated and quick changes in pitch. Apparently, the original yodelers were Tibetan monks. Marco Polo introduced the knowledge to Western Europe where it spread in the Swiss, Austrian and German regions. Yodeling is likewise done in Central Africa and the Baltic states.
Silk and wax
Here's a communication type that will make you gape in awe. Or you might find it somewhat gross. Anyway, in Ancient China, royal messages were written in silk. The silk was then rolled into a ball and coated with wax. The royal messengers had to swallow those silk balls, to prevent other people from intercepting them. You can imagine how the messages were retrieved!
Silk is very durable and can be turned into a very small roll. World War II pilots had carried silk maps to help them find their way in case their planes went down.
Communicating in the global community
Communication is essential, especially in the global community. Make sure that you are sending the right message on all platforms to your target audience with accurate translations. To ensure the quality of your translations, contact Day Translations, Inc. Our translators and interpreters are all native speakers working in over 100 language pairs. They live in-country to ensure that linguistic and cultural requirements of the language are properly incorporated in the translation project. You can get in touch with us anytime, as we are open all days of the year. You can reach us by phone at 1-800-969-6853 or send us an email at Contact us. We are ready to serve your needs for language services at any place, at any time zone.
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