Lapin Semaphore is an adaptation of modern semaphore that is expressed utilizing one of a bunny's major assets — their ears. It was developed by Sable Aradia in the six months leading up to The Third Word War to facilitate communication at a distance between the members of House Lapin. It can also often be used as a form of secret communication, since the general population does not understand semaphore, or would never expect the odd twitching of a rabbit's ears to be conveying coded messages. Anyone can learn to understand Lapin Semaphore with training, but one must possess lagomorphic long and versatile ears in order to "speak" it; although substituting basic semaphore as practiced with hand-held signal flags can be used to convey messages to the Lapin bunnies instead. Lapin Semaphore may be spoken as designed by Wererabbits, sentient rabbits such as familiars and spirit-animals, and Bunnykin. The Owsla have been specifically trained to understand it so that Queen Sable can communicate with them secretly if there is ever a need. The Prince Consort Erin Righ Lapin has also been taught how to understand it, and the Queen is in the process of teaching it to her siblings and children.
The morphemes (ear shapes) of Lapin Semaphore are its "phonology." See the sidebar for a detailed breakdown.
Semaphore is a telegraphy system used to convey information at a distance with visual signals. Information is encoded by the position of the flags, paddles, rods, or in this case, ears; it is read when the flags or other devices are in a fixed position. The positioning of the flags in semaphore may be thought of as hands on a clock from the perspective of the receiver. Different positions on the "clock" indicate different letters or numbers in combination with one another, and the positions of both hands form the letter or number. A sender comes back to center between each letter or number or signal. Lapin Semaphore imitates the positioning of semaphore flags by manipulating lagomorph ears to resemble the shapes they create. While this cannot be precisely accurate, especially when it comes to letters and numbers that involve positioning across and in front of the body, rabbit ears can make enough of an approximation that the intended signal can be clearly understood.
In semaphore, words and numbers are spelled by positioning of the arms and the flags (or other items) they hold. Because the purpose is to communicate messages quickly, unnecessary prepositions and elaborate context are ignored. Messages might be expressed as something like, "Undead approaching," followed by position, heading, and the estimated size of the Horde in question. In Lapin Semaphore, the positioning of flags is simulated by the positioning of the ears. They are angled and folded to form similar positions to the traditional semaphore letters. When a signaler wishes to begin a message, they bring both ears up and down in unison once or twice to get the attention of the receiver. This sign is also used when the signaler has made an error and wishes to alert the receiver to the mistake. The signaler waits for the "ready to receive" signal from the receiver; which means the receiver raises both ears vertically above their head and sits up on their haunches, like rabbits do when alert in the wild. If in human form, they raise their arms as well as their ears vertically above their head. They then relax into the "ready" position, which is simply both ears being vertical. This is also used when a wererabbit is in mostly-human form for the "ready to receive" position when a wererabbit is trying to be discrete. This "ready" position has been significantly modified from the traditional semaphore "ready" position, which is both arms forward and down with the flags crossed over each other but not the arms or wrists. In bunny form, this is only possible to imitate if the ear-tips are covering both eyes -- and obviously, someone who can't see is not in a "ready" position to receive visual messages. Unlike in traditional semaphore, there is an "end message" position as well, which is curling both ears down and in front of the face, just beneath the eyes. This was deemed a necessary addition because of rabbit twitch instincts, as well as a need to counter-stretch against the typically rigid ear positioning.
Semaphore, in and of itself, has no phonetics since it is not a verbal language.
This article is a work in progress, and may be subject to changes.
This article is part of a series related to streaming the Game of Tomes. For more information, see Streaming Game of Tomes.