What determines which system you use?

Pie Man really started this line in the
“I wish I knew Gregg AND Pitman. Hell, I wish I knew Gregg enough to take notes with it. What determines which system you use?
I was looking at various shorthand systems today (with vastly newly opened eyes, let me tell you) and laughed out loud in the library at the preface of one book, two paragraphs in length. It was written by an earl who was a Pitman writer. I think he used words like “light-line abominations” “beauty of geometric styles” and “ugly single slant styles“.
Another author talked about how he had recommended a light-line cursive single slant version and then got complaints about writers’ cramp from the students and teachers at the school to which he had recommended it. He said Pitman writers never get writer’s cramp because they move the hand up and down in relation to the line, and change the pressure of the pen when writing shaded characters. (This conclusion based on an unspecified number of complaints, and five students who came to him begging to learn Pitman, because they got writer’s cramp from the light-line method.)
All this to say that in the absence of actual scientific study — which I do not think anyone has yet done — determining which system (or subsystem) you prefer is entirely in your own hands.
I’m fairly sure that my statement that I do not think anyone has done any actual scientific study will be disputed.
Where is Psetus when we need him?

(by sidhetaba for everyone)

9 comments Add yours
  1. Sid:

    Have you been following our "print" vs. "cursive" conversation?

    Boiled down, I believe people who write better in print could write better in Pitman, but people who write better in cursive would probably do better in Gregg.

    The jury's still out, though. What do you think?

  2. Yes, I have been following the print v cursive thread. I'm afraid I don't have much input — I hate printing but I often lift my pen in the middle of a longhand word. I used to write straight up and down or on a backward slant with large curvy characters — I'm using a lot more of a slant since someone in this group suggested that to help my shorthand — my shorthand looks better, but my longhand is really ugly now.   I just think that Pitman is ugly.   And Teeline is delicious looking.   But Gregg is still the purtiest.   I really just wanted to share the preface — which I will scan and post, because it's priceless.

  3. Sid:

    Of course, as you say, one must not forget the subjective element.

    For my own part, I grew up with Gregg, so when I became interested in Shorthand, Gregg looked like ordinary handwriting I'd seen a few zillion times, while Pitman–well, it looked like something strange, exotic–something from another planet, perhaps. I immediately took to it.

    Maybe a lot of people simply think Gregg is prettier, while others (including your aforementioned earl) just think Pitman is prettier.

    As Debbi Avon has said, too, availability is a phenomenal factor; Pitman was hard to find in the US, while Gregg would have been harder to find in the Commonwealth.

    Sid, please do post the scan of the book, I should be very interested to see it…

  4. Sidhetaba,   (this is a little off topic, sorry)   I'm going to put my neck out to say that the paragraphs you quote are by Oliver McEwan? He writes something so similar in a book that I own that it has to be him!   If I'm right, there is actually some background bias to his statements. Unfortunately I'm at work so I can't check the details. Basically, McEwan was a writer and teacher of Pitman, until he fell out with that 'crowd', moved across to Malone's 'Script Phonography' (and by extension, Gregg), until he fell out with that 'crowd', and invented his own system based on Pitman's shaded consonants with Malone's/Gregg's vowel hooks and circles (actually, a really good system!). I'd take what he says with a pinch of salt, he was a real propogandist. If anyone reading has access to Butler's History of British Shorthand, they'll be able to fill in the gaps.   The millions of writers of longhand – never mind shorthand – can attest to the fact that his statement is false!   Ian    

  5. IJD — "take what he says with a pinch of salt, he was a real propogandist"   Oh, a whole box of salt. I actually enjoyed the hyperbole as the ultimate caricature of a crusty old man in an imagined position of authority.   I think it was McEwan's shorthand text. I'll have to check.   My library recently purchased (or was given) a host of texts on all the various shorthands so I ended  up spending 2 hours there reading them all and having a good laugh.   People in the last two centuries were not diffident when expressing opinions, and, of course, "politically correct" meant you voted for the same candidate as the speaker had.

  6. BWA HA HA! "Whole box…" Oh, God. ::wheeze:: True that.

    Still, it's hard to deny that Dr. Gregg was guilty of flagrant competitor bashing himself. It seems the gloves were off in the turn of century shorthand world. To be honest, I think Pitman is visually appealling–in a birdwatching kinda way. It reminds me of bird tracks in the sand.

    (Sorry for the deletions; I made a grammatical error twice in a row)
    Praise the Lord, I saw the Ivory-billed Woodpecker! (sike)

Leave a Reply