than a year had passed since the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor
by the Japanese navy when this article was published in QST. America
had sprung into high gear to help the war effort - both as civilians
and as military members. A vital part of the strategy was to educate
as many people as possible regarding the tactics and habits of the
enemy. Media of all sorts were used to help get the word out.
September 1942 QST
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
QST, published December 1915 - present. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
Yes, there was a time in this country when patriotic Americans
banded together proudly and unabashedly toward the common cause
of survival for our heritage and established way of life. Even major
magazine publishers, television broadcasters, and Hollywood actors
lent their talents. A host of young and even middle-age boys and
men responded to their country's call to service.
its part, probably more so than most forms of media, by appealing
to those people capable and willing to contribute to the vitally
important task of communications. How many hobbies could be directly
applied to the needs of the military and homeland defense? Precious
few, other than radio design, assembling, testing, and operation.
I suppose to be fair I would have to mention a few other hobbies
like vehicular maintenance, firearms marksmanship, and model building...
oh, and sewing for the ladies.
If you know or are related
to any of the authors of there articles, please thank them for all
of us for their service. Let us hope that, seeing the way the country
is moving these days, that their effort was not ultimately in vain.!
The Japanese Morse Telegraph Code
With Some Notes on the Japanese Language
By Donald B. Millikin (Manhasset, N.Y.)
Japanese Morse Code is used on the landline telegraph system
of Japan and by Japanese ship and fixed radio stations. However,
when messages are sent to foreign countries or ships they are transmitted
by International Morse.
Although the dot and dash signals are identical in both codes
for the numerals and for the letter U, there are great differences
between Japanese and International Morse. Signals for the single
letters A, E, I, N (or M), and O in the Japanese system are totally
unlike the equivalents in the International. The other combinations
of dots and dashes represent the two-letter and three-letter groups
of Romaji (pronounced ro-mä-j'e),
an English language phonetic system approximating the Japanese spoken
Messages in Japanese Morse may be transmitted according to the
Romaji spelling or the Nippongo modification. No dependence can
be placed upon frequency tables for Japanese single letter occurrences
because of the differences in spelling and peculiarities inherent
in the language itself; tables of digraphs and trigraphs are needed.
Although the word lengths of plain language text vary greatly, messages
are frequently sent in regular groups of fifteen letters each. Such
communications are not in code, the code messages being usually
transmitted in five-letter groups.
Japanese Morse signals are recorded on paper tape by means of
the ink-recorder just as the characters of the International code
are received on tape. For the ideographs, or "picture-writing,"
that are equivalent to Romaji, both tape and page types of teleprinters
Accurate translations of messages transmitted in Japanese Morse
would be difficult unless one were familiar to some extent with
the Japanese language and the Romaji and Nippongo spellings. The
following notes will be intelligible to anyone equipped to go ahead
with such translations.
on the Japanese Language
It is a strange fact that of these three neighboring countries
between which frequent communication has existed for a great many
years, China has not deviated from ideographic script, Korea invented
an alphabet, and Japan devised a syllabary. Most of the ideographs
in the Japanese language are taken from the Chinese. The Japanese
found by analysis that all of the required sounds could be conveyed
by less than one hundred different syllables. They selected the
ideographs corresponding to these sounds and reduced them first
to forms called "Hiragana" (sometimes spelled with a K - "Hiragana
"). These forms were simplified later into "Katakana" A number of
years ago an Englishman. J. C. Hepburn, invented the system of using
Roman letters to represent the Katakana ideographs. His method is
known as Romanized Kana, or Romaji. It has been used in printing
Japanese and an understanding of it is essential to the proper
use of the Japanese Morse code. The Japanese used the Hepburn system
until a few years ago, when they developed a. modified spelling
known as "Nippongo," because they did not like employing a method
invented by a non-Japanese,
Twenty-two letters of our English alphabet are used in Romaji,
but L, Q, V, and X do not appear as there are no similar speech
sounds in Japanese. The only letters occurring by themselves are
the five vowels, A, E, I, 0, D, and the consonant N (or M). All
other letters appear in combinations of two or three. Only a single
one-letter word exists - E. All words end in a vowel or N. Digraphs
and trigraphs always end in a vowel. The vowels may be short or
long. Long I is always doubled and written as II, to avoid confusion
between I and T. The other four vowels are sometimes doubled to
indicate the long sound, as AA and EE, or a line is placed above
them, e.g., O and
U. In the trigraph SHO at the end
of a word the ideograph for U is add when the O is long. C, F, and
J occur only in the syllables CHI, FU, and JI, in Riimaji. They
are absent in Nippongo. Consonants doubled are NN, PP, SS and TT.
When the combination HA is a part of a word in Kana characters it
is pronounced and written in Romaji as HA; but when it occurs alone
as a two-letter word it is pronounced and written WA. Whenever KA
appears by itself at the end of a sentence it is not a word but
indicates interrogation. If the letter N occurs before B or P it
is pronounced and written as M. The word NO has many meanings and
may also be used as the apostrophe ('). It is a contraction for
the . word MONO and may be further contracted to N', in this particular
case. KOTO is used occasionally in the place of NO.
The number twelve is written Ju Ni. Thirty-five is San Ju Go (3
times 10 plus 5).
The names of the numerals are as in Chinese:
1 - Ichi
6 - Roku
2 - Ni
7 - Shichi
3 - San
8 - Hachi
4 - Shi
9 - Ku
5 - Go
10 - Ju
Some examples of changes from Romaji to Nippongo are:
SHI becomes SI
FU becomes HU
ZI or DI
SHI and Y A, or SHA, becomes SYA
CHI and YA, or
JI and YA, or JA,
SHI and YU,
or SHU, "
CHI and YU, or CHU,
JI and YU, or JU,
SHI and YO,
or SHO, "
CHI and YO, or CHO, "
JI and YO, or JO,
The spellings of words are changed, e.g.:
UJI to HUJI
SHINTO to SINTO
SHIMA to SYAMA
CHOSEN to TYOSEN
This chart, designed by Charles E. Holden,
shows the characters of the Japanese language in order of frequency
of appearance. In each group are Roman letters showing the English
spoken equivalents or "Romaji"; the dots and dashes of the Japanese
Morse code; the heavy characters of the Katakana ideograph equivalents;
and the lighter Hirakana equivalents, used principally for letter
writing and newspaper type. There is only one set of ideographs
for the numerals, and the telegraph code equivalents are the same
as in International Morse. The code symbol for a hyphen is also
used before a vowel to indicate that it is long. Note that some
characters have two groups of dots and dashes for their code equivalents.
The effect of the Nippongo modification may be seen in these
tables of single-letter frequency of occurrence. A count of telegraph
text is also shown; the tendency to omit unimportant words and to
abbreviate results in somewhat different figures. Note that in Nippongo
the occurrences of C, F and J have dropped to zero. The literary
Romaji statistics have been reduced from a count of 5118 letters.
Here is a table
of digraphs and their supporting single vowels, listed in order
of frequency of appearance in the Japanese language, based on a
literary text count of 2524 (Holden). There are no other digraphs.
These data can be used only after Japanese characters have been
translated into Romaji, of course.
The author is indebted to Messrs. Charles E. Holden and Frank
L. Jackson, both of New York City, whose studies of the Japanese
language have been helpful in the preparation of this article. The
chart on page 24 is the work of Mr. Holden.
Posted 2/16/ 2011