Learning Your 爱比西s: Translating Chinese into Morse code!

Learning Your 爱比西s: Translating Chinese into Morse code!

How do you translate Chinese into Morse code?

In the late 1800s, China was connected to the international telegraph network, and this was the big question! Morse code was originally conceived for transmitting English, and while it was extended to support other alphabetic languages, this didn’t work out of the box for character-based languages like Chinese.

In this talk, we’ll walk through the different encoding schemes used to convert characters to Morse code, their tradeoffs, and how some of the challenges are relevant to us still today!

37c3b62c818038a84bef21a78a126eec?s=128

Franklin Hu

May 10, 2020
Tweet

Transcript

  1. Learning Your 爱比西s Translating Chinese into Morse code! @thisisfranklin, !!con

    NYC 2020
  2. None
  3. None
  4. The Chinese Telegraph Code of 1871 Take the most commonly

    used characters (~5,400) Map each of them onto 4 digits (0000 to 9999) Image: Obsolete Chinese telegraph code, Viguier 1872, Wikipedia
  5. The Chinese Telegraph Code of 1871 https://translate-chinese-into-morse-code.glitch.me/

  6. Implications • ~3,000 unused spaces • Verbose and slow Image:

    Obsolete Chinese telegraph code, Viguier 1872, Wikipedia
  7. None
  8. Plaintext vs secrets Saved money by having words that meant

    more: • “Toothbrush” (secret) for “telegram has been delayed in transmission” • “Gasping” (secret) for “send the goods that are ready, and expedite the remainder” To recoup costs, priced “secret” messages higher per word
  9. Trigraphs? 4 digits 104 10,000 4 letters 264 456,976 3

    letters 263 17,576 A fancy word for “three alphabet letters”
  10. Trigraphs! 冬 0392 → ----- ...-- ----. ..--- apb →

    .- .--. -...
  11. Trigraphs!

  12. Unfamiliarity with Latin characters a: 爱 h: 鴟 o: 窩

    v: 霏 b: 比 i: 藹 p: 批 w: 壼 c: 西 j: 再 q: 摳 x: 時 d: 諦 k: 凱 r: 阿 y: 喂 e: 依 l: 而 s: 司 z: 特 f: 夫 m: 姆 t: 梯 g: 基 n: 恩 u: 尤
  13. Trigraphs! 冬 → 爱批比 → .- .--. -... Plaintext and

    Secret Telegraph Code–New Edition (Shanghai: n.p., 1916)
  14. To compare... I like eating baos .. / .-.. ..

    -.- . / . .- - .. -. --. / -... .- --- ... 我喜欢吃包子 205308232970067605451311 ..--- ----- ..... ...------- ---.. ..--- ...--..--- ----. --... ---------- -.... --... -....----- ..... ....- ......---- ...-- .---- .---- hbrtkurtgwicdwwddh 鴟比阿梯凱尤阿梯基壼藹西諦壼壼諦諦鴟 .... -... .-.- -.- ..-.-. - --..-- .. -.-.-.. .-- .---.. -.. .... Disclaimer: trigraphs are illustrative and not from actual code books
  15. None
  16. None
  17. Thanks! @thisisfranklin https://translate-chinese-into-morse-code.glitch.me/ Sources • The Chinese Typewriter, Thomas S.

    Mullaney