telegraphic codes and message practice
scanned code directory

Dictionnaire du langage des nombres

This page is devoted to the telegraphic code of George (sometimes Georges) Boucher de Boucherville (1814-94), Canadian, energetic politician, exile (plantation-and-slave-owner in Louisiana), (leisured) bureaucrat, author, inventor and (apparently) whist fancier.

The code was published in 1889; it was proceeded by a telegraphic patent (1878) and a guide to whist (1887), that may have contained a telegraphic code. The dictionary is polyglot (English and French); its full, dual title is:
Dictionnaire du langage des nombres (cesges de damis)
avec une introduction contenant les principes d’une méthode de réduction et l’usage que l’on en peut faire pour abréger les correspondances télégraphiques et autres
Dictionary of the numerical language (cesges de damis)
with an introduction containing the principles of a Method of Reduction and the uses to which it may be applied in abridging telegraphic and other correspondence.
1ère éd. / First Edition.
Quebec, Printing Office of C. Darveau

A poor-quality scan of the microfiche de l’exemplaire de l’édition originale se trouvant à la MacOdrum Library, Carleton University is available via —

The volume contains several paginations, as follows:

i-xxviiiFrench-language title and introduction.
i-xxviiEnglish-language title and introduction.
errata1 page, slip? or printed
1-346numerical, English, French
1-203English, numerical, French
1-285French, numerical, English

The compiler seems to have expended more attention on the arithmetical progression features, than on the phrase content of the code. In the English- and French-first sections, phrases are arranged strictly alphabetically. There is no thesaurus-like grouping of terms, and the phrase vocabulary is largely of single words. Matters get more interesting in the numerical-first section, where phrases are arranged alphabetically (based on English vocabulary), but in sections that yield (interesting) breaks of alphabetical sequence. These breaks seem to relate to the progression code itself, which — and this I am trying to determine — may relate, in some vestigial way, to the 1878 (Canadian) patent described below.

first page, numerical English French section, Boucher, Dictionnaire du langage des nombres (1889)
from copy in private collection; Carleton Univ scan here

Boucher’s grouping yields what are, in effect, cinquains — a five-line form that anticipates the more intentional work of Adelaide Crapsey (1878-1914 *). Absent, at least on the page shown above, is anything like the physical imagery that runs through Crapsey’s verse.

Description of Patent no. 9031 (1878), Mode of Transmitting and Recording Telegraphic Despatches. Part of an online exhibit Made in Canada: Patents of Invention and the Story of Canadian Innovation. here
While Images for patents registered before 1920 are not available online (although they may be obtained by other means), it is fortunate that images of the original (in French) have been put up, probably for documentation of that exhibit. The fourteen pages can be individually viewed (and save from) this url. (I have assembled a pdf of the entirety, as well.)


  1. CA 9031 (July 18, 1878) — Mode of Transmitting and Recording Telegraphic Despatches / Mode de transmettre, recevoir et enregistrer les depeches telegraphiques.
    no US version.


  2. US 143,440 (October 7, 1873) — Propulsion of Vessels
    Canada mode of using waves for ship propelling 2894
    minimal description; would convert energy from up and down motion of vessel, moving through waves, to rotary motion to power propeller. illusory?
  3. US 157,065 (November 24, 1874) — Fire-Escapes
    Canada 3069
  4. US 158,363 (January 5, 1875) — Propulsion of Vehicles

George Boucher de Boucherville     (1814-94)


Canadian Encyclopedia
Dictionary of Canadian Biography
Also wrote a Code du whist (1877).

blah blah blah