Identical Vowels

I have a question.  My Gregg Shorthand Manual Simiplified, 2nd Edition says that  the A stroke can be long, like in “car”.  It also says that the O stroke can be prounounced Aw, like in “call”.

Aren’t these the same exact sound created by two different strokes?  Reading them is easy, but how do I know which to use when writing?  It has caused me much trepidation.

(Originally posted by johnsapp)

31 comments Add yours
  1. Hello, John.  I would like to try and explain the answer to your "a" and "aw" question.  Here goes…   The "a" vowel group has 5 different vowel sounds.    They are:  long a (Kate), short a (hat), medium a (ah and ar sounds).  The medium "ahh" sound is found in the words calm and palm,  The medium "arr" sounds are found in the words car and park.  The 5th "a" sound is the "uhh" sound that you hear in the words ahead or away.    The shorthand symbol for the long a is a large circle and the vowel marking under it is a vertical bar.  The shorthand symbol for the short a is a large circle without a vowel marking.  The shorthand symbol for the medium a sounds (ah and ar) is a large circle with a dot placed underneath the vowel to indicate the medium sound.  The shorthand symbol for the "a" sound of "uhh" is simply a dot written before the vowel for words beginning with "ah" or "aw" (i.e. ahoy, aha, ahead, away, aware…).  Learning theses vowel sounds, their shorthand symbols and their vowel markings is a pretty simple and quick method if you learn the vowel sounds to the tune of "Kumbaya"!  You think I'm kidding?  No, No.   The "o" sound you were asking about with the sound of "aw" is the medium "o" sound found in words such as brawl, tall, mall, crawl and doll.  The shorthand symbol is the "o-hook" and the vowel marking is a dot placed underneath the vowel.  The melody to help students learn the "o" group sounds is "Mary Had a Little Lamb"!  Tis true, John!   Should you be slightly dismayed with the "o" group, remember that the short sound for the "o" is "ott".  None of the short sounded vowels have a vowel marking.  You'll use this "o-hook" shorthand symbol for English words spelled with the letters "ot", "ott", "au" and "ou".  Some example words are:  "otter", "ought", "not", "knot", "bought", "naught".   If I have not answered your question fully, please let me know.  There is always a different way to explain.  I'm sorry for being so wordy.  I hope this helps.   Ms. Letha 🙂  

  2. I forgot to tell you…no, these are not the same strokes nor the same sounds.   The "A" group is…..a, aa, ahh, are, uhh.  Large circle is shorthand symbol, uhh is a dot.   The "O" group is…..ohh, ott, aw.  O-hook is the shorthand symbol.   I hope I didn't just repeat myself!  Bye.  Ms. Letha  

  3. I'm with DangerAranger… I'm from the south all  'a's' have the same sound "ahh", no matter what word you say if it has an 'a' in  the word, it sounds like "ahh"  solved my problem real quick with these  a's, and oo.  LOLOLOL. Ya'all just move down here is very beautiful and shorthand is much easier, 🙂

  4. Please walk at dawn to the faucet and get some hot water for the car parked by the tall palm.   I am from the Pacific Northwest. I learned to read from a phonics curriculum from Chicago.   I have seeen this distinction in a phonics curriculum from Kentucky.   To me each of the bold vowels above has the sound of o as in hot. The only difference in sound might be the effect of a preceding or following consonant such as the l in palm or t he r in car–makes a light variation in the way the o sound comes out.   I think differentiating between o, au, a, and ar etc. must be a northeastern thing.

  5. >Think British! They have good vowel differenciation.   On that note, it always sounds funny when Americans talk about a 'British accent'. It's something Brits never say, as there are *so* many accents. At the very least, people say Scottish, Welsh or English. Or Irish, or Northern Irish. And then there are regional English accents. People 20 miles apart can sound totally different.   Perhaps they all sound the same to Americans 🙂   Kevin

  6. Think British! They have good vowel differenciation. The aw sound in "maul" has a specific quality (a rotated c in the IPA [ ɔ ]), which is pronounced with the lips rounded and the tongue's back up and front down. The a sound in "father" has the lips unrounded and the entire tongue down (IPA: alpha [ α ]). The o sound in "pot" (IPA: rotated alpha [ ɒ ]) has the lips rounded and the entire tongue down (just "a" with rounded lips).

  7. "Think Londonian!"

    Even worse!

    I'm joking, of course.

    Received Pronunciation, being partly artificial, is more a question of education than anything else, even for Brits. However, not everybody is supposed to go to Oxbridge and nowadays regional accents are accepted on the BBC.

    I don't really see what's wrong with any variety of English, as long as it is consistent and understandable. Why would Americans or Canadians start to speak as Cockneys do? Being born a Brit, I may adopt the American usage of spelling or punctuation temporarily, but certainly not for good.

  8. I think it's more a question of deciding on outlines that is the problem, rather than one accent being better than another. It comes back to my question on another thread about whether I should change [n u] to [n e u] because that's how I pronounce 'new'.   BTW, are you in France, Mark? If so, where?

  9. Yes, you're right, Kevin. It's a question of shorthand outlines. I think that Dr. Gregg was well-aware of that issue and that his system was devised to give individual leeway to represent the English vowel system.
    Learning Isaac Pitman's shorthand in the States was certainly more difficult, as each vowel sound is assigned a different shape or position in that system.

    I write the word "new" N+U-hook, not because I pronounce it that way, but because in Gregg shorthand, the diphtong [ju:] can be reduced to the U-hook. But that's shorthand, not phonetics.

    Yes, I live in the South of France now.

  10. I understand what you mean.

    I'm not the one who can give advice in shorthand matters. After forty years of Duploy챕 and Gregg, I've ended up with a personal system of shorthand. I never represent that diphthong EU, except in some proper names.

  11. There's also some inconsistency in trying to represent the word "car" with an R sound, since in Received Pronunciation, the final R is not pronounced.

    I don't think that shorthand should represent the sounds the way they are actually uttered.

  12. Shorthand is only phonetic for speed. Its main purpose is its product, the transcription. This means that it is not solely for phonography so one can detect if someone mispronounced a word (for which the International Phonetic Alphabet is more suitable), but rather that the words that are spoken are transcribed into an accurate typed product. Else, the transcription would be in dialect: "Yes, ya Ahna, I'd lahk to brang thiyus witnuss to the stayand."

  13. John, if shorthand were a hundred percent phonetic, each variety of English would produce a different outline for the same word.

    Take the word "car" for instance. You would write it K O R, I would wirte it K A. Even in Pitman shorthand, which is supposed to follow Received Pronunciation, that word is written with R.

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