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Published: 19 May 2014

By Andy Ross

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The language of code

A fascinating article from the BBC magazine tells the story about the Choctaw American Indians who helped to win World War One.

When a captain walked past a couple of the Native Americans speaking their language, he realised that the problem of communications may have been solved.  German intelligence had successfully broken codes and tapped into telephone lines as well as intercepting runners who were delivering messages manually. The Choctaw language may be the answer seeing as how only a few people spoke it. New words and concepts were invented to deal with the complexities of war and last year the families of these original code speakers received their long-deserved recognition.

It is sad to know that the language had been supressed back home, much like in the earlier years of the last century when something similar was happening here in Shetland with the dialect. Thankfully attitudes have changed and we are more appreciative of the languages and dialects that enrich our world. The full story about the Choctaw code speakers is on the BBC website.