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Phillips Code

The Phillips Code is a brevity code (shorthand) created in 1879 by Walter P. Phillips (then of the Associated Press) for the rapid transmission of press reports by telegraph. It defined hundreds of abbreviations and initialisms for commonly used words that news authors and copy desk staff would commonly use. There were subcodes for commodities and stocks called the Market Code, a Baseball Supplement, and single-letter codes for Option Months. The last official edition was published in 1925, but there was also a Market supplement last published in 1909 that was separate.[1]

The code consists of a dictionary of common words or phrases and their associated abbreviations. Extremely common terms are represented by a single letter (C - See; Y - Year); those less frequently used gain successively longer abbreviations (Ab - About; Abb - Abbreviate; Abty- Ability; Acmpd - Accompanied).

Later, The Evans Basic English Code[2] expanded the 1,760 abbreviations in the Phillips Code to 3,848 abbreviations

Contents

Examples of useEdit

Using the Phillips Code, a message could be composed and sent as this ten-word telegram:

ADDG LG WORDS CAN SAVE XB AMTS MON AVOG FAPIB.

Whereupon receipt by the news desk, it would be expanded to this:

Abbreviating long words can save exorbitant amounts of money, avoiding filing a petition in bankruptcy.

Famously, the Kansas City Star published the following code in 1910:[3]

“T trl o HKT ft mu o SW on Mu roof garden, nw in pg ...”

Which the news desk should have transcribed as the following before sending it to the typesetter:

“The trial of Harry K Thaw for the murder of Stanford White on the Madison Square Roof Garden, now in progress ...”

Notable codesEdit

The term POTUS and SCOTUS originated in the code[1][3][4][5] (with SCOTUS appearing from the very first edition of 1879[6] and POTUS was in use by 1895,[3] and being officially included as early as the 1923 edition) and entered common parlance when newsgathering services (in particular, Associated Press) adopted the terminology.

Telegraph operators would often interleave Phillips Code with numeric wire signals (such as the 92 Code), to describe the article's priority or confirm its transmission. This meta-data would occasionally appear in printed newspapers,[7][not in citation given] especially the code for "No more - the end", abbreviated as "- 30 -" on a typewriter.

Excerpts of the codesEdit

Example abbreviations of the Phillips Code
Code Expansion
Hag Haggle
Hz Hazard
Igo In consequence of
Kf Confer
Kft Conflict
Kpt Compete
Lx Pounds sterling
Oac On account of
Ot Owing to
Pcu Preclude
Pkg Packing
Pkj Package
Pmnt Prominent
Px Price
Pxl Political
Rept Repeat
Rlav Relative
Rpv Representative
Sac Senate Committee
Scf Sacrifice
Sovy Soverignty
Spn Suspicion
Thu The house
Wam Ways and means
_ _ _ _ Paragraph mark
Co County
Dr Doctor
Dx Dash
Ea Each
Ed Editor
Eu Europe
Fm From
Gb Great Britain
Gj Grand Jury
Hc Habeas corpus
Hf Half
Hi High
Kg King
Ld London
Lp Liverpool
Lx Pounds sterling
Mm Mid-meridian (midnight)
Mo Month
Mr Mister
Oc O'clock
Qm Quartermaster
Ry Railway
Sa Senate
Ss Steamship
Td Treasury Department
Xm Extreme
Za Sea
Xg Legislate
Xb Exorbitant
ITC In this connection
IQO In consequence of
IAB Introduced a bill
IAR Introduced a resolution
HVNB Have not been
Hur House of Representatives
GX Great excitement
GOH Guest of honor
IWR It was reported
IXJ It is alleged
KAH Knots an hour
CIC Commander In Chief
UMPS Umpires

EditionsEdit

  • 1879: The Phillips Telegraphic Code for the Rapid Transmission by Telegraph, published by Gibson Brothers Printers[6]
  • 1909 Market Supplement
  • 1918 edition (implied by an article in the September 1923 edition of the Commercial Telegraphers' Journal, Volume 21[8])
  • April 1, 1923, edited by E.E. Bruckner and published by Telegraph & Telephone Age.[9]
  • 1925

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "The Phillips Code".
  2. ^ Evans, John (1947). The Evans Basic English Code (PDF). Chicago, IL: John & Clarence Evans.
  3. ^ a b c "President of the United States". World Wide Words (copyright Michael Quinion). Retrieved 2009-01-26.
  4. ^ Safire, William (1997-10-12). "On Language; Potus And Flotus". New York Times - October 12, 1997 (N.b. mistakenly claim POTUS first appeared in the later 1925 edition). Retrieved 2009-01-25.
  5. ^ "Entry from July 30, 2011 SCOTUS (Supreme Court Of The United States)".
  6. ^ a b Phillips, Walter (1879). The Phillips Telegraphic Code for the Rapid Transmission by Telegraph. Washington, D.C.: Gibson Brothers, Printers.
  7. ^ "So Why Not 29?". American Journalism Review - Oct/Nov 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
  8. ^ "September 1923 edition of the Commercial Telegraphers' Journal, Volume 21".
  9. ^ "Morse Telegraph Club, Inc. Sampling of the Phillips Code" (PDF).