Sunday, February 4, 2018

I wonder if the Navajo code talkers started this way

I have a secret message to send you, but I’m fresh out of decoder rings. I will forge ahead anyway.


In the absence of secret decoder rings, here’s the key to decoding the message:

JIMMY = The Philadelphia Eagles
CORN = the Super Bowl
ETAOIN SHRDLU = and I don’t care

And you thought ETAOIN SHRDLU was the capital of Burkina Faso.


  1. I'm old enough to have been in a newspaper printing room in the days of cold type and I had a vague, very vague, thought that I recognised your 'capital of Burkina Faso'. I was glad to be proved correct. We used to get it back in some of our proofs as fillers.

  2. The capital of Burkina Faso is Ouagadougou. I thought that everybody knew that.

    1. Yorkshire Pudding, you know that the capital of Burkina Faso is Ouagadougou, and I know that the capital of Burkina Faso is Ouagadougou, but I seriously doubt that everybody knows that.

  3. Graham, I have read that the reason the letters ETAOIN SHRDLU were placed as the first two rows of type down the left side of the old linotype machines is that they were the most frequently used letters of the alphabet, arranged in order of frequency of use. I also remember seeing those same words appear at random in the pagesi of Mad magazine.

  4. ETAOIN SHRDLU and QWERTY are some of my favorite things.

  5. Emma, so much more interesting than raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.

  6. Ha! I like word play, but enjoyed being given the answer straight away because I'm tired out, so it's a win all round.

    My favourite word of the moment is sesquipedalian. As it means 'to use unnecessarily long winded words' it tickles me to us it.

  7. All Consuming/Michelle, glad you like word play. Here’s another secret: this post isn’t word play at all, unless you want to call it faux word play. There’s no code that could be unraveled, it’s just a clever way (well, I thought it was clever) for me to announce to the world that the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl and I don’t care. There is an old American folk song called “Jimmy Cracked Corn And I Don’t Care” that I incorporated into my little ruse.

    Regarding sesquipedalian, here’s a little poem that I wrote at least 30 years ago:

    Sesquipedalian’s a foot and a half;
    It’s a word very few these days know.
    But the ignorant masses will have the last laugh;
    The world’s going metric, you know.

  8. The good people of Burkina Faso should rename their capital Etaoin Shrdlu forthwith.

  9. Shooting Parrots/Ian, we of a Eurocentric mindset need to refrain from telling citizens of other countries what they should or should not be doing. The good people of Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) can call their capital Ooh-ee-ooh-ah-ah-ting-tang-walla-walla-bing-bang for all I care.