Pitman, Teeline, Speedwriting… and Gregg.

Pitman, Teeline, Speedwriting… and Gregg.

I though putting all those words in the subject heading would get some attention!  However this is really my hello to the group.  This might be long, but please stay with me for a while :O)

(Now, this is difficult for me as I am thinking of defecting from Pitman and I am not sure how my friend Ian in the UK might react after helping me get my hands on so many Pitman materials.  Hello Ian, are you reading this group?)

The Shorthand Nomad – My Story:

My name’s Michael and I’ve been a shorthand buff since school.  I don’t know how it is today, but way back in Soviet times (I’m writing from Russia) we had a form of dictation, where the teacher would read a story out loud, sometimes rather long, and you were required to write it back out from memory, as close to the original as possible.  Apart from being checked on grammar and stuff you were required to remember close to 100 percent of the story, sentence for sentence.  Of course I would get bad marks on this as I would only remember the first and sometimes the last word of the whole story, and roughly the plot, if there was one.  If it was one of those descriptive ‘the sun shone through the winter leaves’ pictures in words, I’d be done for.

Later on I heard of shorthand and I thought how neat it would be to secretly got the story down and to simply transcribe it afterwards.  I got my hand on a Russian shorthand book, but dropped it as the system did not appeal to me.  Russian uses a cursive system as words are very long.  The standard Russian system evolved from German, who happen to like long words as well.  Anyway, I never stuck to it.

I spent some time in Australia, so g’day to the Aussies on this forum!  Straight of a question to you guys.  Back in Narabundah college in Canberra I studied for a short while (i.e. when the week you can keep a library book for expired) a system, which today I would like to get a look at again, just for the nostalgia.  I don’t know what it is.  It’s a symbol system, but definitely not Pitman or Gregg or Teeline.  I can remember on feature – the sign for ‘the’ was a short downward dash, perpendicular to the line.  The book explained that using a dot for the most common word is a no-no as it is not simple at all to make a good dot quickly with a modern ball point.  So the next quickest mark was selected.  Do you or anybody else have an idea what system this might have been?

Anyway, a few years later when back in Moscow I found a copy of the original Anniversary book (the first printing with the publishing mistakes in it), as well as a copy of the Speed Studies.  Boy, was I a happy person!  To think, what kind of history these particular books had, having found their way to a book stall in Russia!  Any way I studied Gregg briefly for a while.

At one point I bought an encyclopedia of symbols book, which had an entry for shorthand.  It had three examples: Pitman, Gregg and Speedwriting.  I had no idea that shorthand systems could have inherent speed limits and I thought that the Speedwriting system looked simply so cool!  Again, a miracle happened, and I found some Speedwriting books in a used book shop in Moscow.  I studied that and learnt Speedwriting in stead.

Over the next few years, I would get bored with Speedwriting and start learning Gregg again.  Gregg looked beautiful in the textbook, but when I rote it, well, it wasn’t.  And when I tried adopting it to Russian it looked awful, as the squiggles would grow proportionately into squiggalissimos, to accommodate long Russian words.  I was working for an Australian company at that time, which had an office in Moscow and in London.  I learnt that the secretary in the London office used a shorthand system called Teeline.  I deducted that the ‘T’ would be represented by a short horizontal dash, which she confirmed over the phone once.  A few years later, I had a new job in sales in British Airways.  On my first visit to London I immediately bought myself a Teeline book.  Gawd, it was so much simpler to learn than even Speedwriting.  I used that system primarily afterwards.

However, once in a while I would switch back to Speedwriting, because I still though it looked cool.  I used speedwriting for making to do lists, and also Speedwriting is great for drawing mindmaps, if anyone’s into that sort of thing.

At one point, when shorthand stuff became more freely available on the internet I decided to go for the big one and learn what I though (maybe correctly) to be the most advanced and fastest system in the world – Pitman!  I have a huge amount of books, including ‘How to write Pitman at 240 wpm’ and ‘Three Men in a Boat’, written entirely in Pitman shorthand.  However, somehow I let my shorthand studies wane.  I bough a pocket PC and that had me occupied for half a year, then I switched jobs  – I now work for Emirates, you know the fastest growing, richest, most luxurious airline in the world.  Also, whenever I tried taking notes in shorthand, either I did not have a pencil or ballpoint pen at hand, or any lined paper.  So I used Teeline or Speedwriting.

Anyway, a week or so ago I stumbled on this group and the WONDERFUL http://n.1asphost.com/greggshorthand/index.shtml site.  I am now all enthusiastic about restarting my shorthand studies, but being a Shorthand Nomad, I keep spending hours choosing which system to learn to perfection.  I think I get some kind of sadistic pleasure from spending hours pondering which Shorthand to learn to perfection.  However this group and the new Gregg Shorthand site have seriously tilted my preferences to Gregg.

Interestingly, I find that I can easily read 50 to 70 percent of the shorthand text at the end of the Gregg Anniversary Manual.  But I can not read that far in any Pitman book.  I also love the idea of NOT needing any special pens or pencils and not needing any lines to write.  I’ve also noticed that my penmanship today is much better than so many years back, so my outlines finally look pleasing to the eye.  So why not do Gregg?

On the other hand, I have ALL these Pitman books.  And Pitman is much better suited to Russian.  I could really have a blast with Pitman, if I stick to it.

So here is my question:


Perhaps you can help me decide.

Anyhow, hope I’m welcome in the group.  Thank you for staying with me to the end of my long broadcast.

Nice to meet you everyone!

(by wordsigner for everyone)

26 comments Add yours
  1. Hi word signer, thanks for the very interesting introduction. Aparently, in the Brittish empire the word shorthand is synonymous with Pitman; in the US, with Gregg. Since you mostly do business with England and Australia, it probably seems to you that Pitman is very widespread. Gregg has been adapted to and is used in a long list of languages around the world. Represented so far in this group are English (duh), German, French and Spanish (did I forget any?). By the way, your English reads very naturally. I once traveled to Samara, on the Volga river–I wish I had met someone there with your language skills!

    I think the "" formatting marks are residue from your word processor. If you type messages directly in the reply window, they may not show up. As far as whether or not you should learn Gregg shorthand, it sounds to me like you have already realized most of its benefits on your own. I'll just say, come on in brother, the door's open wide! Oh yea, and where else can you hang out with cool stenographers like me?! Just kidding!

    (…but really, where?)
    Praise the Lord, I saw the light line!

  2. Howdy John!   Thanks for the welcome.  Your are right about hanging out with cool stenographers.  Pitman as a system lacks a proper message board!  This peer support can really make a difference.   Now if I could only get my hands on a book or two written in Gregg, to somehow offset the loss of never being able to read Three Men in a Boat in Pitman…  I'm wary of buying online, as anything shipped from an online shop will have a value attached and will spend maybe weeks in Russian customs.  Might get lost, or I might have to travel to the central (but not very centrally located) post office to collect it.   Cheers, Mike

  3. Danger, Angelfly is your site?  It's fantastic!!!  Are you planning any more cool uploads?   Privet! Misha…   BTW you posted a link to an unfinished page with Mr. Gregg explaining his shorthand system.  I've lost the link, and as the pages are not yet finished, I can't find it.  Do you remember what thread the link was on?  Thanks!

  4. Dubai is a nice place. I am ecstatic that you have found good use from my shorthand site! Not having a guestbook for it, I never really get much feedback.

    Gregg is the best system to learn out of the multitudes of them out there. The only real issue with learning Speedwriting and Teeline is the lack of time that people have to learn them. Gregg is far more effective and it just takes a nip more time and some attention to penmanship and proportion. It is also the most aesthetically pleasing. 🙂

    Having written Russian for a year or two, I can see the necessity to know a shorthand system with it. Russian is mostly big ol' words with exception to a few single letter words (like v), and a few one-syllable words like "chto." 🙂 Cyrillic can be an awkward system to write, like writing your m all the way down so that it doesn't look like a ch. 🙂

    I am glad that you have joined the group! 🙂

  5. No, Speed Studies is a second-year course in high school or second-semester course in college. Expert Shorthand Speed Course is an advanced course for those wishing to work for the United States Congress writing down verbatim the speeches of senators and representatives. Expert Shorthand Speed Course would be a third or fouth semester in college. (I doublt that Expert Shorthand Speed Course was ever taught at the high-school level.) Expert Shorthand Speed Course would be a terminal course, that is, the very last course one would take in one's shorthand studies. Most people, of course, took only a year or two of shorthand in high school and never went as far as the expert level.   Brian

  6. Wordsigner,

    The Australian system you're describing might be the Sloan-Duployan method. I've seen scans of it; it looks like Pitman, somewhat, but with connected vowel strokes like Gregg.

    It never caught on really big in the States, but I understand variations were used in Canada and some of the other Commonwealth Countries…

  7. Why don't you all (at least, all of you in the States) order the book through an Interlibrary Loan?

    Its LC # is 51003975.

    Also, I'd very strongly recommend "The Factors of Shorthand Speed" by David Wolff Howe. While written by a Pitman writer, so much of its content is usable by Gregg writers that The Gregg Publishing Company bought the rights of the book after his death. You can also get this book through an Interlibrary Loan.

  8. Yes, indeed, Sidethaba.

    Sid: do you live in the States? If so, your local library should be able to get the book via ILL in less than 3 weeks.

    I got "The Factors of Shorthand Speed", a rare book, that way. I hope I can talk you into reading it, too, because it gives invaluable tips for increasing shorthand speed.

  9. No, I live in Canada.   Three weeks is a long time, sometimes.   I would love to get The Factors of Shorthand Speed but there wasn't a copy on abebooks, and even a google for the title and author produced nothing.   How on earth did you find it? Is it an English book?

  10. SIdhetaba:

    I have some very old Benn Pitman books. In the back of the books, there is quite an impressive list of books written in "Phonography" (as it was called in those days), and books written "about" Phonography.

    I took the list of books, looked for some at the Library of Congress website, and ordered The Factors of Shorthand Speed via ILL. 🙂

    As an aside, one of the books was an exposium on all the Shorthand Systems in use at the time. Did you know that Gregg wasn't the first "sloping" system? There were several others. In fact, Gregg was judged by the British Courts to be a work of plagiarism of a man named Gibson, and was banned in the UK for a number of years….

  11. Shorthand Writers:

    Out of The Factors of Shorthand Speed, one tip, alone, is supposed to increase speed from 20 to 30 words in 3 weeks. It's simple to do, but complex to explain.

    If anybody wants to know more, please email me at the above address. It's kinda lengthy to explain here..

  12. GeorgeAmberson sez: I hope somebody will be able to use this tip. It's very simple, but not at all easy!!   Stenomouse replies: IOW, "write shorthand until your fingers are worn to the bloody nub." LOL. A great tip. I will do my endeavor.   Thanks for posting this, George!   Best, Stenomouse

  13. Stenomouse:

    Please let us all know if you try this tip. It's a helluva lot of work, but I'm convinced it'd work wonders for increasing speed.

    Stenomouse (and the rest of the Community) I've installed a new, improved version of Factors of Shorthand Speed in the Documents section. I improved the formatting and corrected some heretofore overlooked typographical errors.

  14. Once I've completed my work in basic theory, I fully intend to do this, George.  I believe that the writer is absolutely correct. And, IMO his philosophy applies to most other areas of human endeavor as well.   Kindest, Stenomouse Gregg Speedwriter Wannabe

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