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From FLYNN's March 10, 1928


Edited by M. E. Ohaver

ONE of this week's ciphers—No. 145, by M. Walker, to be explicit—uses a phonetic alphabet. So a few words about phonetic alphabets and phonetic spelling may not be amiss.

In a phonetic alphabet each different sound is represented by its own special character. Most shorthand alphabets are of this nature. And, in fact, the phonetic alphabet herewith, which provides all the sounds necessary for a practical representation of the language, closely follows that employed in Pitman phonography.

The phonetic characters in this illustrative alphabet are shown in the second column of the accompanying table. By using italics, where indicated, the alphabet can be expressed in ordinary type. The numbers in the first column have been compiled for the express use of the cipher solver, and indicate frequencies in one thousand characters of phonetically spelled text. And these numbers reveal some surprising facts.

For example, T, with a frequency of eighty-two per one thousand, here supplants our old friend E as "king of the roost," phonetic values of the latter being divided among several characters. Passing to the other extreme, Z, seldom used in the ordinary alphabet, here has a frequency of forty-three per one thousand!

51 A    (short A) am, ask, final.
 9 A    (long A) ale, senate, care, eight, there.
 4 AH   (Italian A) arm.
13 AW   (broad A) all, orb.
21 B    boy.
 5 CH   chart, arch, nature.
47 D    day.
31 DH   the, with, breathe.
46 E    (short E) end, recent.
43 E    (long E) eve, event, eel, pique.
16 F    fame, rough, phone, phantom.
 6 G    go.
23 H    house, who.
73 I    (short I) ill, lyric,
11 I    (long I) ice, idea, fly, hyena,
 0 J    jar, grandeur, soldier, gem, surgeon, region.
30 K    call, echo, kite, back, coquette.
41 L    let.
26 M    may, him,
68 N    not, ten.
19 NG   long, uncle, anchor, ink.
36 O    (short O) odd, what.
22 O    (long O) old, obey.
 0 OI   (diphthong OI) oil, boy.
13 OO   (short OO) foot, wolf, full.
 5 OO   (long OO) do, food, rude, canoe.
II OU   (diphthong OU) out, owl.
22 P    pat, up.
55 R    far, train.
46 S    so, yes, civil, force.
 7 SH   sharp, chaise, machine, sure.
82 T    tie, it.
 6 TH   thin, breath.
26 U    (short U) up, urn, fern, fir, other, does, flood, touch, myrtle.
 2 U    (long U) use, unite, new, beauty.
10 V    vivid, ever.
29 W    wet.
 1 Y    year, you, million.
43 Z    zeal, zone, use, xebec.
 1 ZH   rouge, azure, fusion.

A phonetic character may have more than one equivalent in ordinary spelling. Thus F represents the sound of F in "fame" (fam), of GH in "rough" (ruf), and of PH in "phone" (fon). Parentheses inclose phonetic spellings according to the present system.

The letters C, Q, and X have no place in this alphabet. The sounds of C are replaced by S and K, as in "city" (siti) and "came" (kam). QU is represented by K or KN, as in "coquette" (koket) and "quick" (kwik). And X is expressed by KS, GZ, or Z, as in "except" (eksept), "exist" (egzist), and "xebec" (zebek), respectively.

Other combinations are also given a queer twist. Thus TH in many words will here be represented by DH as in "the" (dhe), "that" (dhat), "with" (widh), and so on. WH is merely reversed, as "why" (hwf), "when" (hwen), and "which" (hwich). The following short example in the present alphabet should enable the novice to grasp the idea of phonetic spelling without much difficulty.

A fonetik alfabet iz wun in hwich ech sound iz reprezented bi itz on speshal `sin. And in fonetik speling wurdz ahr speld egzaktli az dha ahr pronounst.

Our correspondent has used an alphabet of thirty-six primary sounds, arranged in a special order, but otherwise very similar to the alphabet herewith. For his cipher alphabet he has employed figures, letters— omitting I and O—and the signs * and &, making thirty-six symbols in all, one for each phonetic character. Normal word divisions have been observed.

Another phonetic cipher by Mr. Walker will be published next week. And the solutions to both, with complete alphabets, will appear in two weeks. The answers to the other new ciphers in this article will be published next week. No. 143 is of the simple substitution type. And in No. 144 Mr. Crotty has embodied an interesting principle which you should be able to discover by "running down the alphabet."

Did you get that "jawbreaker" in last week's No. 140 ? Here is the answer: "Transsubstantiationableness is said to be the longest nontechnical word in the English language."

No. 141, by Wm. B. Marks conveyed the message: "This system is easy to use, but if you solve it you are good!" The key, 21-7, indicated G—the seventh letter of the alphabet—as starting point for the first count, with one count backward in the alphabet and two forward, in rotation, for each three letters of text. Numbers larger than twenty-six were word spacers.

No. 142, by J. A. Dockham, requires a set of vertical alphabetical slides, on each of which the ordinary alphabet is twice repeated. To decipher, adjust the slides so that the cipher letters appear in the same line, as at (a), repeating the last letter of each group as the first of the next following group. The message will then appear in various lines, marked *, each group thus representing six letters instead of only five!

      etc.               etc.
    P D E O O       O  I J U C F
(a) Q E F P P       P  J K V D G  ...
    R F G Q Q       Q  K L W E H
    S G H R R       R  L M X F I
   *T H I S S       S  M N Y G J
    U I J T T       T  N O Z H K
    V J K U U       U  O P A I L
    W K L V V       V  P Q B J M
    X L M W W       W  Q R C K N
    Y M N X X       X  R S D L O
    Z N O Y Y      *Y  S T E M P
      etc.               etc.

When enciphering, any line on the slides may be used for a given group except the one ending in the next following message letter. Groups can be of any length. And, if desired, slides with mixed alphabets may be employed. A clever cipher! The message: "This system produces a cryptogram which is shorter than the message it communicates."

All of which being said and done, here are this week's ciphers.

CIPHER No. 143.


CIPHER No. 144 (Philip J. Crotty, Charlestown, Massachusetts).


CIPHER No. 145 (M. Walker, Akron, Ohio).

E1  AOD  1DN  52  Z*E  VO  S4D2  P1N5D
F8V  VO  TD3N  H2E.  L1  1J2C  L6V  E4F
UO  C2JN  6KV*D  L4E  L1 Y&U  2N  8KV
2FV*DU  B2L  L3D  S9FN.