Monday, 17 May 2021

▄ ▄ ▄ ▄▄▄ ▄▄▄ ▄▄▄ ▄ ▄ ▄

In yet another brilliantly delivered, disabusing lesson from Helen Zaltzman we learned that despite the popular, vernacular etymologies and assigned backronyms the universal maritime distress signal S̄ŌS̄, the prosign or procedural signal formally written with the overscore to distinguish it from letters though its other advantages include being an ambigram and legible from all angles, is an abbreviation for nothing and eventually—taking the Titanic disaster to bring the UK on board—customary way to dispatch an unequivocally (see also) urgent message of imminent peril. The need for an international standard first suggested by Captain Quintino Bonomo at the Berlin Preliminary Conference on Wireless Telegraphy in 1903, radio developed in the late 1890s with the proposed signal being SSS DDD, a bit more of a mouthful to dit and dot to request aid from ships at sea but no authoritative convention was set forth with many but not all seafaring nations (and not consistently either) using CQD at the recommendation of the Marconi International Marine Communication Company, which is derived from an abbreviation—CQ from sécu, the French shortened form of security, and D for Distress (Détresse—not Come Quick, Drowning), the first part having been already adopted as “general call,” all hands on deck. Germany first adopted S.O.S. in 1905, the nine syllable sequence being a unique call-sign, out of fear that CQD would be received as a general notification