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  • Getting the Point Across

    Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.

    If you are of a romantic turn of mind (I am) and a history buff (ditto), at some time in your armchair travels back in time you will have encountered an obsolete variety of social semaphore often called The Language of the Fan.

    It was a silent language. By manipulating her folding fan, a woman could send messages that propriety forbid her to speak. Historical sources suggest that fan language emerged in the late eighteenth century, and persisted (where folding fans persisted) until just into the twentieth.

    Predictably, most of fan language is concerned with flirting (or not) and loving (or not) and being kissed (or not). For example…

    Fan half-opened, pressed to lips.

    franklin habit

    “You may kiss me.”

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