French palindromes and Morse code

I got an email from a student in France who asked about a French counterpart to my post on Morse code palindromes, and this post is a response to that email.

Palindromes

A palindrome is a word that remains the same when the letters are reversed, like kayak. A Morse code palindrome is a word that remains the same when its Morse code representation is reversed.

The word kayak is not a Morse code palindrome because its Morse code representation

    -.- .- -.-- .- -.-

when reversed becomes

    -.- -. --.- -. -.-

which is the Morse code for knqnk.

The word wig is a palindrome in Morse code because

    .-- .. --.

reads the same in reverse.

French distinctives

Now what about French? I saved the script I wrote to find Morse palindromes in English, and I ran it on the French dictionary located at

    /usr/share/dict

on my Linux box.

I thought I’d have to modify the script because French uses characters in addition to the 26 letters of the Roman alphabet, such as ç, a ‘c’ with a cedilla. There is a Morse code for ç

    -.-..

but its reverse is not a letter.

It’s not clear exactly what is “French Morse code” because there are a number of code values that could be used in French (or English) to represent letters with diacritical marks.

The code for é is itself a palindrome, so I didn’t need to modify my script for it. As far as I know, there are no codes for accented letters which are valid letters when reversed, except for ü whose code is the opposite of z. But there are no Morse palindromes in French if you add ü.

Results

See this file for complete results. Some of these words remain the same when translated to Morse, reversed, and translated back, such as sans. Others, are pairs that of valid words but not the same word, such as ail and fin.

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6 thoughts on “French palindromes and Morse code

  1. I kind of feel like the discussion of a Morse code palindrome is like saying KAYAK isn’t a palindrome because it’s ꓘAYAꓘ when ‘reversed’. Reversing the letters isn’t a palindrome, reversing their order is. I never commented on the original post, but it bugged me.

  2. Hello,
    Thank you very much for your help. I am impressed by your reactivity and your helpfulness.
    I have now to chose wisely for my design work.
    Sincerely,

  3. Do people do upper and lower case in Morse code? My limited experience tells me no, but maybe so? In any case, if the message is in all caps, you might not need to worry about accents in French. They are routinely omitted when words are in all caps, like in word games. All the examples I see in the French Wikipedia article on Morse code are in all caps. I can’t find any accented examples.

    Just curious what standard practice is.

  4. No, there’s no case in Morse code. So it may be a moot point.

    If I had to guess, I’d say ‘é’, for example, is probably transmitted simply as ‘e’ unless there’s an important distinction to make. Maybe someone would use ‘e’ in most text but use ‘é’ for their name.

  5. @Scott – As to French, at least when I worked between American programmers and a French client in the 90s, the client did not appreciate it when there were accents on capitalized letters. We sent the designs back to have them removed.

  6. I think of Morse code as having no case rather than being upper case. The question is how French telegraphers think of it. Should a medium without case follow the conventions of lower case or upper case?

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