#tweetcode - telegram codes meet twitter
August 11, 2009 12:49 PM   Subscribe

#tweetcode - telegram codes meet twitter
There was noise last week about a telegraphic code book from 1891 that people used in Historical Times to shorten longer messages to make them cheaper. If "oh man that would be great for twitter!" was one of your top seven responses to that, have I got a site for you!

I got The Anglo-American Telegraphic Code Book converted into a readable format, did a ton of processing, and voila! You can now type in a phrase and get it translated into telegraph-speak, or paste in a telegrammed message and get it back as normal-speak.

Granted, a lot of the phrases are things like "a fire damp explosion occurred in the mine no lives lost" but hey, we're in 1891, people, and you can submit your own dictionary.
posted by soma lkzx (4 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

LANGUAGE HAT means "do not leave if you can help"!
posted by joannemerriam at 7:33 PM on August 12, 2009

I sort of hope this catches on.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 12:12 AM on August 13, 2009

Yep, totally stole "do not leave if you can help" from languagehat's blog. it's one of the few phrases that actually make sense!
posted by soma lkzx at 4:40 AM on August 13, 2009

Although I didn't make the Twitter connection, I stumbled across books like these last month when browsing Wikipedia articles related to my fifteen minutes of fame. Not many of these news stories point out that these codes are always made up of actual words. See, there's no physical reason you have to make "do not leave if you can help" be "language hat"---you could just as easily make it some other unique bunch of characters, like "gbbc paqf" or something, and you could almost surely compress most expressions much more succinctly if you were willing to tolerate gibberish.

However, it seems that international law required telegrams to be made up of actual words. For parts of the world that most Europeans and Americans wanted to talk to, you had your choice of about eight or so European languages, including Latin for some reason. So, codebooks like these used actual words.

I am too lazy to provide a citation, but this info comes from the introduction to one of these books, which I found on Google Books one evening. This one claimed to have a particularly sophisticated encoding that tried to avoid letter combinations that were often confused in Morse Code (e.g. IT .. -, which is a lot like U ..-).
posted by tss at 10:37 PM on August 13, 2009

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