August 23rd, 2007

Unicode (the first one, beware of modern imitations)

My copy of "Unicode", the universal telegraphic phrase book. A code of cypher words for commercial, domestic and familiar phrases in ordinary use in inland and foreign telegrams has arrived. It is a 1908 printing, first edition January 1886.

"The Code-Book hitherto has been distinguished by two features - a high price and attempted exclusiveness. The "Unicode" aims at precisely opposite qualities, viz. a low price and a universality of employment so that not only in all offices, but in clubs, hotels and private residences copies shall be found and freely used.

"An example will best demonstrate the mode of using, and the economy effected. Say the following is the message in full :-
TO Smith, 100, Prince Rupert Road, Shepherd's Bush.
Jones dines with us this enveing and remains the night.
Smith.

"Hence the address and signature take eight words, and the body of the message ten, making eighteen words in all, or six extra to pay for; wheras by using the "Unicode" the message is reduced to
ten words and runs thus :-

TO Smith, 100, Prince Rupert Road, Shepherd's Bush.
Jones Coctivus
Smith"

Notice that Mrs Smith (presumably) doesn't get a say in the matter. The telegram arrives, 'Jones Coctivus Smith' it says. I suppose she just has to sigh and let cook know.

I think that Births has got to be the freakiest section, with code words as follows (I have omitted the actual code words to avoid going nuts typing it in)
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But of course there is much worth quoting:
Detained here, shall dine at the club - Clemens
Fire broke out in adjoining premises, ours safe - Deformis
Forgotten my portmanteau, please send immediately - Derosus
Has changed for the worse and doctor gives no hope, useless your coming - Direxi
Invalid better; doctor recommends change of air - Dolatus

And in the deaths section:
Send me a lock of his (or her) hair - Celeber

So, when anyone mentions Unicode, remember to ask which one :-)