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How They Telegraph Chinese

The managers of the China Submarine Telegraph Company have solved the somewhat difficult problem of how to transmit telegraphic messages in Chinese. At first light the difficulty of an alphabet which is made up of about fifty thousand distinct characters appears almost insurmountable, but the obstacles have been overcome, and A-fat at Hong-Kong encounters no more difficulty in communicating with A-chum at Shanghai than does Brown with Jones under similar circumstances. The plan adopted is this: Some few thousand of the more common Chinese characters are cut on wooden blocks after the manner of type, and on the reverse end of each is a number cut in the same way. Now A-fat having handed in his message written in Chinese, the native clerk selects in order the corresponding blocks from the case, and prints off the numbers on their reverse. This he hands to his English colleague, who telegraphs the numbers to the destination desired. Here the reverse process is gone through, and the numbers having been taken from the cases the characters are stamped on paper, and thus A-chum is put in possession of the cherished wishes of A-fat through the medium of his native language.

Links Related To How They Telegraph Chinese

2003 Aug 14 A Book from the Sky
“A Book from The Sky took the artist over three years to complete. The installation is comprised of printed volumes and scrolls containing four thousand characters individually 'invented', designed and cut into wood-blocks by the artist. The result is a set of four hand-printed books, ceiling and wall scrolls that carry a huge body of text that resembles Chinese characters but is in fact unintelligible.”»


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