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The book The Chinese Typewriter by Thomas Mullaney has the following Cartoon from the San Francisco Examiner (1900)

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and explanation:

The first mass-produced Chinese typewriter was a figment of popular imagination. It was first sighted in January 1900, when the San Francisco Examiner spread word of a strange new contraption housed in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood, in the back room of a newspaper office on Dupont Street. The machine boasted a twelve-foot keyboard complete with 5,000 keys. “Two rooms knocked into one apartment afford shelter for this remarkable contrivance,” the author explained, describing a machine so large that the “typist” was something akin to a general commanding forces over a vast terrain (figure 1.1). The piece was accompanied by a cartoon in which the caricatured inventor sat atop a stool and shouted Cantonese-esque gibberish at “four muscular key-thumpers through a large tin megaphone.” Lock shat hoo-la ma sho gong um hom tak ti-wak yet gee sam see baa gow!!

I realize he calls it gibberish but does Lock shat hoo-la ma sho gong um hom tak ti-wak yet gee sam see baa gow!! Actually mean anything?

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    It's meaningless from the Chinese perspective. – dan Sep 14 '17 at 12:28
  • pronunications are prosibly changed since that age, and pronuncications given a non-Chinese speakers (he haven't studied Chinese) are possibly inexact, it is hard to guess what he said. – Daniel Yeung Sep 15 '17 at 10:30
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My mother-tongue is Cantonese. As far as I understand, this is not anything in Cantonese (at least modern Cantonese). Although some of the words sound like Cantonese, for example “Lock shat” sounds like 落實 (lok6 sat9), I can’t think of any meaningful content when they are put together with the words after that.

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It's definitely Cantonese since 'yet gee sam see baa gow' sounds exactly like 'one two three four eight nine' in Cantonese, and 'tak ti-wak' sounds like 'make a phone call'.

I don't speak Cantonese, so I cannot give more information on this.

  • Not sure about phones in China in 1900. – Philipp Sep 18 '17 at 12:41

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