“I didn’t know anyone still did shorthand”

“I didn’t know anyone still did shorthand.”  I get that a lot.  I went to a work seminar and someone saw my shorthand notes…. LOL

(by debbiavon1 for everyone)

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  1. From other college students, I usually get "what the hell is that?!"  I am surprised though, that several customers have noticed me taking notes about their account with "It's been years since I've studied shorthand!"  So many closet stenographers — who'd 'a thunk?  Now how do I get them to join this group…   MEASBGTY

  2. Easy one… By continuing to do what you just did… Use your shorthand in front of them.  Based on their comments, use that as an open door to invite them to visit the FREE shorthand group for some really "hot" discussions! 🙂  

  3. My friend who works at the local power plant noticed last week that the receptionist there takes shorthand notes.  The more I look around, the more I see people who know Gregg.  I am considering changing the mission statement on the homepage; the part about "…waned in recent years…".  What do you think? _______________________  

  4. I usually get: "why are you taking notes in Arabic?" to which I invariably reply: "No mam. This isn't Arabic, but you see, I come from the planet Alpha-Centaurus, that's the way we write over there…"

  5. Yesterday I got, "Is that hieroglyphics?"  "Why, yes," I replied, "yes it is."   ____________________ Praise the lord, I saw the light line!

  6. In my master's program, I glanced over at someone's notes and said, "Oh, Pitman shorthand!"  To which she replied, "No, it's Arabic."   See?  It goes both ways!   🙂   Marc  

  7. Yesterday I was taking notes in our day long assistants meeting (yes 15 pages of notes, but just the highlights).  Anyway, one of the managers asked who was taking notes, and the director said, "Debbi is, she has half a page all ready."  The manager's reply, since he could see my notes, "I thought she was drawing." My director said today, "Is that Gregg Shorthand?" I said, yes.  He said his wife was a stenographer… Debbi

  8. LOL.  Last Tuesday I had an adolescent kid ask me what language was what I was reading and writing.  I said "English".  He had this look on his face as if he didn't believe me.  Then when I started reading back the paragraph, he was stunned — he said: "cool".  I said, "it's like a secret code", LOL.

  9. Hi.  Over 20 years ago I took a couple of classes in Gregg shorthand, but never got very good at it.   For a strange reason, I got the urge to learn it — and learn it much better than I did the first time.  Right now I'm working my way through the "Simplified" manual, and bought a copy of the dictionary for $.35.   So, I was on the subway a couple of weeks ago reading the manual, and the gentleman next to me asked me what language I was reading.  When I said 'shorthand', he said "I didn't know anyone did that anymore." 

  10. Yes, the used booksellers through Amazon.com are selling them from 34 cents up.    With shipping costs, I paid under $4.  I'm amazed that there are people who would keep books in inventory with so little money value, but I'm glad they do.   It appears that no Gregg Shorthand dictionaries are in print. 

  11. abebooks.com has tons of Gregg Dictionaries, including my favourite, a 4" by 3" pocket DJS dictionary bound in white leather-like cloth. I take it everywhere.   Last time I searched abebooks, there were about 25 dictionaries, Anny up to S90. No Centennial stuff seems to have been sold to used book stores, yet.   http://www.abebooks.com  

  12. I don't think I've ever spent more than $2 for a shorthand book from abebooks.com. But I have to admit I hate ebay, and abebooks is organized and managed right here in my own province, BC.  So I may be a touch biased.

  13. Get the dictionaries in eBay.  They are posted up for bids all the time.  I got the 1902 Gregg Shorthand Dictionary and 1902 Phrase Book for $5.00 total.  Cheap, considering that they are really rare.

  14. Back to the title of the thread " "I didn't know anyone still did shorthand." " Out of curiousity, I typed in "shorthand" in the search box for Monster.com (positions are posted there), and got 93 hits.   I thought "wow", but when I randonly opened a few, one said "no shorthand".     So, there are a few employers out there looking for speedwriting skills.   I'm not in the market for such a job, but I was curious what the demand was, if any.   Probably most employers know better than to even ask for speedwriting skills as so few people do it anymore.   Maybe the ones who ask for it are dreamers.

  15. I enjoy the incredulous ones best:

    Them: "What the *** is that?"
    Me: "Shorthand; it's just a fast way of writing."
    Them: "That all *means* something?"
    Me: "Yes."
    Them: "Get outa town!"
    Me: "These are some notes about some stuff I'm studying."
    Them: "You're ***ing me. Read some of it."

    One of my co-workers is still holding out for third party corroboration from someone else who understands the strange scribbles.

    For the next "What the *** is that?", I'm considering:

    "Oh, just some pretty scribbles. I like to fill books and books and books with them in my spare time. None of it means anything."


    "Sure, I can read some of it. This says, 'Twas brillig in the slythey toves did gire and gimble in the wabe…'"

  16. I took a few notes for myself in shorthand (Gregg Simp) yesterday during a seminar session.   After that session had ended, the woman who had been sitting next to me tapped me on the shoulder and said she enjoyed seeing shorthand after so many years.    I just smiled and said "Oh."   Then afterwards I thought of the perfect response.   Next time a similar comment arises, I will say "It's coming back!"

  17. Today I was in a Metro station looking at my Gregg Shorthand Manual while waiting for a train, a lady must have been observing me, and asked me excitedly if that was Gregg Shorthand.    I said yes it was, and she replyed that she learned it when she was in high school in 1955.    She seemed quite tickled to see it again, and said she still remembered the brief forms.   I am just spreading joy whereever I go!   

  18. Hi everybody,
    I have been studying Management Control Engineering for four years, and I take my notes with shorthand, using Gregg, Pitman or Carissimi. The first days, my classmate asked me "what's that?" "do you understand that?", etc. Now, they see it as a common way of writing. However, one day, in class, the teacher looked at my copybook with shorthand strokes, and said… "Oh, that's shorthand! I studied it, but the other system" [She thinks there are only two systems (hohohoho)].
    I replied: Oh, really!. But I know Pitman as well.
    And she began to remember brief forms in Pitman, and I confirmed them to her.

    That has given me some extra bonus with her, because she is a bad tempered teacher, so she must be handle carefully.

    Besides, my notes help me a lot in tests or studying wiht my group, because I have "her own words" in my copybook, in a difficult subject as "Auditory in Law Taxes"!.



  19. Pieman:

    We've been discussing that very issue in the topic Personal Shorthand in Anything Goes.

    We've reached the conclusion that if you write better in print, Pitman is better for you, while if you write better in cursive, Gregg is the preferred system.

    Of course, as DebbiAvon has said, availability in each area is a very important issue, too!!

  20. Pie Man,
    Sincerely, that depends on my mood…

    Sometimes, I feel Gregg is so laborious for writing some Spanish words, more than three syllables, then I choose Pitman. But also, I think Pitman is hard to transcribe at first sight, because vowels must be inserted. And Carissimi, it's lovely because it's so logical for Spanish, but it requires a line (like Pitman) for writing over, on, or under.

    Anyway, I have prefered Gregg, because since I have learned Pre-Anniversary, I know more brief forms and preffixes which help a lot.

    Also, I use shorthand in the classroom, because I'm working as a teacher of English. So when I have to write down the name of a student who has had a bad behaviour or just for taking the attendance, my students, aged from 11 to 18, ask me "What's thaaaat?" "Do you understand what you're writing for you?" "Where is my name" "How is my name written?", etc.

    On last Tuesday, some students (aged 12) asked for me to write their names on their hands. They showed off with their written treasure.


  21. Valo   I love that story — showing off their written treasure!   When I started learning shorthand in 1971, I showed a friend how to right his name. He lives in France now, so I don't see him very often. When I saw him last, about two years ago, he showed me how he signed his name in shorthand. Apparently he uses it quite often.   His name is Marc, too.    

  22. Preference and availability. Where I life Pitman is way too hard to find in any second hand store or any store.  Gregg is abundant.  If I bought every gregg book I saw in second hand stores I'd have  a ton! And when I look at the differences, I prefer Gregg over Pitman. You can learn both, as several people have, but probably one at a time… Debbi

  23. When they realised at work that I wrote shorthand, they roped me into writing the minute for all the meetings.  I hated it! Not only did I have great difficulty having to concentrate for hours on end (I like to drift off for 10 minutes in every 30 in meetings – I don't find I miss much), I also ended up taking far too detailed notes, which were a b*gger to condense down into succinct minutes!   Ian

  24. George, I slightly disagree. I'm not ready to say that Pitmann is better for printers and Gregg better for cursive writers; just that the respective penmanship might be easier for them to learn. What about the other angles involved in deciding which system is best suited, like memory load, and of course, maximum speed? There are printers who choose Gregg and cursive writers who choose Pitman. It's a cost-benefit analysis, as they say in the biz.

    Shorthand: isn't it about time?

  25. John:

    Memory load and maximum speed are important points, to be sure.

    I believe Pitman and Gregg to be exactly equal on those points, however. Now, I must assert that I'm referring to Pre- and Anniversary Gregg, and Pitman New Era; both seem to be able to reach stellar speeds and require a very large memory load. Morris Kligman, a Pitman Uber-Expert, believed the two systems to be exactly equal, too. The important factor is said to be the writer.

    Gregg seems to have evolved in quite a few more incarnations than its Pitman brother, though. After Pitman New Era, there was really only one more "flavor", viz, Pitman 2000; it could be said to be roughly equal to Diamond Jubilee.

    So if memory load, et. al. is important to the writer, Gregg would have more versions to choose from, to be sure. Pitman 2000 has very few shortforms, however. Five or ten, if I recall.

    As for tactile "feel", however, I believe Pitman to be very similar to printing; indeed, our Ian says they're both classified as "geometric"…

    I still believe Pitman to be better for printers and Gregg better for cursive writers, but we can have a gentlemen's disagreement on that issue.

  26. Neither has a heavy memory load, honestly. The 312 brief forms are nothing compared to steno machine, which is about quadruple the memory load.

    Shorthand has little to do with longhand much like typing has little to do with stenotype. It just takes another mindset to do either, wouldn't you say? It would be generalizing to say that people who imitate typewriters prefer the motion of Pitman and that those who write the language on the ellipse prefer Gregg. Though the latter is true, it would be better to say that if one can execute movement with the pen onto the paper, he or she can manage either system. I, for instance, wrote in a very angular fashion before Gregg. After I learned shorthand, my handwriting became very regular, legible, and uniformly slanted because it was by then based on the oval.

    Isn't it ugly when all the words are slanted the same way? 😉


  27. "It would be generalizing to say that people who imitate typewriters prefer the motion of Pitman and that those who write the language on the ellipse prefer Gregg. "

    Quite so, Andrew, quite so. I admit it is a generalization, no doubt. There are doubtless exceptions to the rule. In Pitman's case, though, the strokes required are much the same strokes needed in longhand print. That dreaded left oblique stroke? It's in capital "A", either case "x", capital "n", and so on.

    "Shorthand has little to do with longhand". Andrew, I'd beg to disagree on this point. At least in terms of Pitman New Era (and possibly Pre-Anniversary Gregg?) learning shorthand is very similar to that drudgery we faced when learning longhand. Remember learning "to, too, two"? Remember all the arcane spelling rules we had to learn, with all the exceptions? "I before E except after C?" Remember "its" vs. "it's"? Learning New Era is just like that…possibly Pre-Anniversary as well? ("Reverse 'r'"?)…..

  28. Well, right, anyone who can write can learn either. The idea is that if you had chosen Pitman, there wouldn't have been the extra process of training your hand muscles to write the strokes. Your longhand penmanship would still be … irregular, illegible, and hodge-podge?

    Shorthand: isn't it about time?

  29. Mentally, they could be considered similar, but they are still different mechanisms. Just like on the steno machine, where you chord words instead of typing one word at a time. You can type 30 WPM on a typewriter and still type 300 WPM on a steno machine. Same with shorthand. Your writing can look plain nasty, but your shorthand could be impecable.

    If you like to draw your words, Pitman may be better. If you like to write the words, Gregg may be better.

    Printing uses several strokes that Light-Line does not use, but Pitman uses several strokes that printing doesn't use. Pitman also has that dreadful line-position system that makes shorthand like musical notation. In urgency, it is simply better to write in an elliptical system than in a flicking, precise, and positioned system.

    All these rules are very logical in either system. We use special spellings in English to avoid having to use diacritics to make special vowel sounds. Gregg's rules sometimes have exceptions to not confuse certain words like cost and coast.

    I like jelly beans.


  30. "Printing uses several strokes that Light-Line does not use, but Pitman uses several strokes that printing doesn't use."

    That's true, Andrew, technically speaking. Subjectively speaking, however, I can tell you that writing Pitman "feels" very similar to writing in print, if this makes any sense.

    "Pitman also has that dreadful line-position system that makes shorthand like musical notation".

    Ya know, I've heard a lot of people mention this, but in practice, it doesn't seem to be a problem; writing in position becomes instinctive after a time. But that's just my opinion, I admit. Shading isn't much a problem, either, from my point of view.

    What IS a problem in Pitman–and oddly enough, Gregg and the other critics miss this–are those friggin' di- and tri-phones, and intervocalization….

  31. Well, John, in The Basics of Gregg Shorthand, Dr. Gregg was talking about the old versions of Pitman; position writing really was a pain in the ass because it wasn't consistent–it varied from word to word, depending upon the "accented syllable" of such word.

    In 1924, the Pitman Company drastically revised Pitman to become the Pitman New Era. Position writing became consistent–the first syllable, each time, every time. It's 10 billion times easier.

    So Dr Gregg wasn't completely wrong…

  32. Yes, you could stress a vowel sound by putting a mark – perhaps a dot – INSIDE its sign since all the vowels in Gregg have 'surfaces' ie are not just line; this would save confusion with the diacritics Gregg provides in the Pre-Ann Manual for making the vowels clear. Of course this wld require a bit of care; they could be added after the 'take' or notes have been finished when the material is still fresh in the memory…


  33. I've thought about adapting a Pitman-like position systems to my use of Gregg. I envision that this would primarily be useful in words that have different meanings depend on the accepted (stressed) syllable: 'material' vs "materiel'   I've always been a little puzzled about why Pitman was knighted.   Brian

  34. It seems to me that our constant comparison of Gregg and Pitman forms an incomplete vision of the world of shorthand. There are so many other versions of shorthand that contain elements of each or both, and some actually predate one, the other or both.  Some European systems have been applied to a multitude of languages (even used by missionaries to provide a written means of communication to Native American tribes and other illiterate indigenous groups). Many brands of American English shorthand systems have proven useful in the business world.  In each case the writer adopts the hand muscles to the system and masters the memory load no matter how extensive. In our group singing the praises of Gregg is preaching to the choir and quite subjective. Criticising another system of which one has only a casual knowledge is hard to justify. It would be great if proficient writers of various systems would join our group and share their experiences within those systems. We would all be able to extract ideas and apply them to our own systems. The perpetuation of shorthand and skill building within any given system is most important. Strawmen comparisons are inaccurate, unfair and beating a dead horse. Each system, including Gregg has its own given flaws and problems, and could profit from further  research and development.    Greggsters get busy!      DOC

  35. I just checked out Anything Goes and the posts are fascinating! Discussions of various systems and less criticism-oriented  commentary on Pitman were quite refreshing and educational. Gregg is our system of choice (for various and sundry reasons) but all of the other systems, as has been attested to, have something to offer and are profitable for constructive comparison. The real enemy is ignorance of shorthand in its many forms and any form of ridicule, discouragement, or attempts to discredit its use!    DOC

  36. Doc,

    Wise words! It's good to hear that someone else has been getting something from the 'anything goes' section.

    With regard to John's point regarding 'position writing'
    Gregg in the early pages of the 1916 Pre-Ann Manual says that his system is a 'radical departure' from the old established ways of geometric shorthand system construction. He lists the principles of his design, which are aimed to make the experience of writing shorthand more like longhand making acquiring the skill a good bit easier. [I think he achieved this, which is a great credit to him!]. This is why position-writing is 'abolished' to use his word.

    Of course it's easy enough to adapt the use of Gregg to include position-writing for the vowels as well as thickening strokes for the coalescent r and l if you wanted to do this [Gregg says line thickening is 'not compulsory' in his system implying that it can be done without disrupting the functioning of his way of doing shorthand. Granted doing this is a step away from the spirit of his system which is to make it as much like longhand as possible. Like wise you could appropriate the really short forms for the little and very frequent words from Pitman New Era, since as Andrew has pointed out there are so many of them and they are SO brief.

    I am answering two posts in this single-response bec. it brings to the fore the point that it's good to have a critical awareness of any given system but that one has to be careful
    not to be overly dismissive of other appoaches. Also that all the systems hv limitations related to user preferences.

    On that note I think it's great that Gregg is easily – it seems to me – modifiable; shading would be easy to incorporate as explained above and I know that some people did switch over from Pitman and brought some of the short-forms for small freq words with them!

    BTW I think that Pitman probably got knighted because he was born in the right place and time to be a great populariser of shorthand and the prime mover in its dissemination and standardisation; it was a very importhant skill in for the process of state and commercial administration which of course was greatly expanding during the Victorian period. Pitman had the energy, organisation, and ability to communicate – his work is clear – a much needed skill to his contempories.


  37. > I've thought about adapting a Pitman-like position systems to my use of Gregg…

    > Of course it's easy enough to adapt the use of Gregg to include position-writing for the vowels…

    Thomas Natural Shorthand, it's called. Developed in the 1930s by American Charles A. Thomas, "to meet the existing need for a simple, legible shorthand that is based on already familiar writing lines, and that is written with a minimum number of rules…" (from the Preface)

    It wasn't marketed as such, but it's really just the Gregg symbol set made positional: vowel sounds are determined by whether the outline starts above, on, or below the line.

    The whole program is laid out in 120 small and sparsely typeset pages which, the author says, "can be mastered easily in one semester…"

    The first (and only, I think) edition was printed in 1935. I suppose that was just too late to catch on. You can still find copies. I got mine at Abebooks (of course).

  38. …Oops: first edition of Thomas Natural Shorthand" was printed in 1937. *Second edition* in 1942, with sixteenth (and last?) printing in 1949.

    And by "just the Gregg symbol set made positional", I mean just the Gregg shapes—not their semantics; those are all rearranged: "r" is the Gregg "there" stroke, "l" is the "nd" stroke, "c-k" is the "all" stroke, and so on. For this reason it's a little confusing (at least for a Gregg begginner like me) to be going back and forth between the two systems, although TN is by far the simpler.

  39. Hi Routine…

    Yes, Thomas Natural looks to be a really quite good system of short-writing; easy to learn and v useful for note-making. I got the textbk and Readings off abebks too! A v useful internet source.

    I take yr point about possibly confusing elements of TN with Gregg; I think it may be best generally to get really grounded in one system before attempting to digest the theory of another. I was tempted to an indepth preview of Pre-Ann Gregg as well as TN, but decided that it would be better to wait until I've got the system I'm learning – Cross's Eclectic – well and truly in place. THEN I've got something with which to make a comparison…

    Every success in getting to grips with Gregg's…

  40. The one I have been getting a kick out of from my coworkers recently is, "Oh, no!  He's writing bad stuff about us in that steno again!"   ________________________________ Shorthand: isn't it about time?

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