Changes in Gregg

Hi fellows,

Gregg shifted from PreAnn to Anniv, and then to Simplified.

Who could say what was lost and what was earned in each version?

I suppose every new version should be an improvement,but I know that wasn’t that way.



(by valo1969 for everyone)

13 comments Add yours
  1. VALO:

    I've studied the history of shorthand at some length. The progression of the various systems is quite interesting, as is the "war between the systems".

    In terms of Gregg, the 1910s-1940s were a time of great change. WW1 started it all. Gregg had begun its ascendency in America from a backwater system to the most-commonly used system, while a shift in the Pitman group was taking place. Alongside all this, the Stenotype was invented.

    To make a long story short, the ascendency of the Stenotype in courtrooms made Pre- and Anniversary Gregg no longer necessary. Simplified, which was invented in 1949, was an admission by the Gregg Publishing Company, that pen shorthand in courts was becoming extinct. As the name Simplified suggests, the brief forms and special forms were drastically reduced, at some loss of speed but perfectly suitable of even high-speed dictation.

    I don't know why Simplified went to Diamond Jubilee, but Diamond Jubilee went to Series 90 in a dramatic attempt to reduce learning time. The decision to switch to Series 90 has been blamed for the death of Shorthand in general…

    Pitman went through similar, if more complex, revisions, but since this is a Gregg site, you may e-mail me if you want to know more about this melodrama.

  2. Chuck, what was the point of S90? I was under the impression that the purpose of shorthand was to be more efficient than longhand to the point of composing entire words in a few easy and relaxed strokes, not only reducing strain during writing, but being efficient to the point of taking down word-for-word dictation.

    If S90 can't be used to do this and, if I understand correctly, removed several rules making more joinings awkward to write, what is its purpose as a shorthand revision beyond a curiosity?

  3. According to Leslie Cowan in his book "John Robert Gregg", the Anniversary version was written to answer the demand of younger teachers who did not like the emphasis on abbreviated outlines which had been introduced in the 1916 manual. Also, they wanted a text with practice matter that was more in keeping with the interests of the young people learning shorthand. The manual was published one year late, with numerous errors. The manual itself never won favor with those who used it — another revision would've been written, had it not been for the Depression. This dissatisfaction for the manual brought the appearance of alternate books. Two of such books are the Direct Method, where students imitated the teacher's outlines from the beginning, and the Analytical Method, where students learn to analyze the joinings of the strokes. But the best approach was written by Louis Leslie, in his Functional Method book: reading lots of well-written shorthand before a single stroke is written.

    Work on the Simplified manual had been postponed by WWII. Gregg himself was working on a revision of the manual, where he removed features which students found difficult about Anniversary. In a teacher's meeting, he announced that the new manual would contain fewer abbreviations for frequently-used words, and fewer disjoined prefixes and suffixes, and an easier rule for the reversed R, and the method of indicating the past tense would be simplified. Indeed that was what happened. Although Gregg died before a year before the manual was published, his innovations were incorporated. Simplified brought consistency to outline creation — words that were abbreviated before, were now written in full to make a consistent use of analogical endings. That, in addition to bringing down the number of brief forms, helped to reduce the learning curve. Special forms disappeared and some of them became brief forms. The other significant change is the introduction of the -rd stroke, with the elimination of the reversed circle rules for the R. Phrases were modified to make them more legible.

    DJS was the first version designed for business use. Like you said, with the use of stenotype in reporting, shorthand was being used almost exclusively in the business world. Since the demands of vocabulary are substantially less for a stenographer as opposed to a reporter, further simplifications to the system were made. Here, the gent/pent blend was eliminated, additional brief forms were removed, some additional endings were now written in full, phrasing was drastically reduced to simple business phrases, and all past tenses were connected.

    S90 is a further simplification of DJS. Centennial is a revision of S90 to incorporate some elements of previous versions.

  4. I was going to stay out of this discussion, but since Chuck wants my input, here goes. There are a few reasons in no special order.

    Language changes over time so having phrases in texts like "I beg your esteemed favor" wouldn't quite cut it today especially if it means having to learn a special form. Another example would be the use of "Miss" when referring to an unmarried woman, common in 1920, was no longer acceptable in 1980.

    Old, dated photographs don't fly well either with the high school crowd or the college crowd for that matter. I taught from a Simplified manual in the mid 1980s and the gales of laughter over the hairdos and fashion displayed in the first edition of the book could grind the class to a complete halt.

    New teaching methods come along or, as was the case with Simplified, the idea to put language arts material right into the shorthand text are implemented. (I'm referring to marginal reminders, punctuation explanations, etc.)

    Over time, the pool of students who took shorthand changed. The typical shorthand student of 1910 was quite different from that of 1970. Memorizing hundreds of brief forms, special forms, word beginnings, word endings, and special phrases meant having to revamp the system to scale all those "memory load" issues back. Students were turned off to shorthand because it was too darned much work in the older systems!

    Career options changed. Women no longer had to go into clerical work if they wanted to go into the businessworld; men started to go back to clerical work after a long absence. The books had to reflect that change in society.

    All of the above is nice (and I may have left out a few reasons), but he main reason for changing the system, as I saw it and as it was explained to me, was MONEY. New books meant more sales in places like high schools where students didn't purchase their texts. By making the system easier to learn, the thought was that more people would consider taking the subject and, hence, more book sales.

    Just my $0.02.


  5. Huh. I would've thought the kind of people to take a shorthand class wouldn't be the type to go "omglol look at her hair!" Sure, I've found some parts of the manual humorous (5000$/year salary, check for 2$, "a girl doesn't have to be a beauty to get ahead in business", etc) but not so much that it impeded my progress 😮

    It's a shame shorthand isn't in schools any more. I think the memory load of Simplified and earlier pays off in the longrun, but I suppose also that people my age don't care about the longrun.

  6. I just wanted to say that this is a very interesting thread.      I just went through the Gregg Simplified, and enjoyed the nostalgic trip down memory lane.     In some cases, I was struck by how little things have changed.       The bill collecting letters bored me, but I really enjoyed reading the 'advice' articles. 

  7. Carlos – In reply #2…. re: the 1929 Anni Manual… you said,

    "The manual was published one year late, with numerous errors"

    oh dear….. errors in my 1929 manual? Is there a list of the errors so I can correct them? or are there too many to do that?

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