How fast is Forkner?

Does anyone know what reasonable speed can be attained with Forkner?  I’m not looking for speed records, but really a more realistic, practical expectation.
Sorry if this has been answered already on this forum, but I can’t seem to find a way to search threads.  Please let me know if there is a way 🙂  Thx.
~ Kim

(by kimskim for everyone)

23 comments Add yours
  1. Wow.  Forkner shorthand.  Not very common . . . in an era when even the "popular" systems like Gregg and Pitman are mostly unknown in schools, Forkner is even harder to find information about.   I have a few Forkner textbooks.  I haven't studied the system, but the printed pages look (superficially) to me almost exactly like SpeedWriting . . . slightly modified longhand letters combined with a few symbols and many abbreviating principles.    My guess is that if you can do a search and find speed information related to SpeedWriting, the same data will apply to Forkner.   Alex

  2. I have done speedwriting and the fastest I could get was 80-100 wpm.  I was pushing it at 100 on short material.    In the discussion Speeds it has:   Alphabetic systems, such as Speedwriting, Forkner etc. can be written at a sustained speed of 80 quite easily, & 100 with some practice. 120 can be written in bursts, but I doubt it could be sustained.  I know there are differences in the efficiency of alphabetic systems, but even so I think these limits apply generally across the board.

  3. No doubt slower.  However… I've been casually studying Gregg for over a year now and the biggest problems that I have with it are:   1.  Fine motor skill requirements.  My handwriting is not very good to begin with, and I'm left handed to boot, and I find that I can't seem to consistently make nice curves for 'v' and 'f' that are distinguishable, or for 'b' and 'p', or for 'a' and 'e'.  It's just sloppy handwriting that I can't seem to get past and it makes reading and writing my notes even harder.   2.  Transcription.  As pretty as Gregg is to look at (and it is pretty), but from a practical point of view I can't glance at or scan my Gregg notes and quickly determine what I've written.  This is especially true with something like a To-Do List where each item is unrelated to the other items on the list, so context doesn't help much.  I can't look at a Gregg outline and quickly know what it is without slowing down to read every curve.  There are a few exceptions to this for words that I use a lot, but not enough to make Gregg a really useful, all-purpose, general shorthand system for me.   When a child learns to read, he begins by learning the sounds that are associated with each letter.  Then he starts to decode words by sounding out each letter in the word and stringing the associated sounds together.  Eventually, he gains fluency and can read words in entire chunks without decoding each individual letter.  Now I suppose that with enough very dedicated practice that this is possible with Gregg too, but I honestly see the learning curve to achieve this as probably too steep to be practical.  At this point, I'm stuck I'm repeating Kindergarten over and over 🙂   Don't get me wrong.  I really love Gregg shorthand.  I love its graceful curves, it's logic, it's efficiency.  It really is the Cadillac of shorthand systems, I think.  And I really wanted the Cadillac!  But I've come to realize that I can't afford the Caddy (in terms of time).  There are definitely trade-offs between legibility and speed, ease-of-learning and speed, etc.   So that brought me to Forkner (I haven't seen Speedwriting yet or Quickhand so I don't know how those two stack up to Forkner).  It's alphabet-based which makes it easier to read and write, and it uses many of the same abbreviating principals as Gregg.  I don't like the alphabetic systems like EasyScript that require you to only use the first three letters of a word or something.  Again, too cryptic to decypher.  I think I would be happy with averaging 100 wpm for my purposes.  I just don't know if Forkner (or any other alpha system) is up to the task.  Any thoughts or recommendations are appreciated.  

  4. I'm not sure about Forkner speeds, but in the upper
    right corner of the home page of this Gregg MSN group
    you will see a 'Search This Site' link.

    I also had trouble finding this very useful tool.

    Do You Yahoo!?
    Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around

  5. If speed isn't imporant and learning quickly is, then an alphabet system is for you.  I learned speedwriting easily and could read my notes easily.  So you are welcome to learn Forkner if that is what you want.  You can always learn Gregg or any other system later if you choose to, although not necessary. Good luck. Debbi

  6. Having learned Forkner first, I have to admit that it does use many of the same principles as Gregg, though it is a slower system. Mind you, few people would need to take verbatum shorthand these days. I've used Forkner to take minutes in meetings and notes in classes for years, and usually had no great difficulty keeping up, and I doubt I'm as fast as you could get–though I realize that it takes a great deal of effort to write, because you're writing longhand letters, just leaving out vowels, and occasionally substituting a capital letter or symbol for a syllable. If you don't need great speed, Forkner is easy enough to learn. Gregg has one other great advantage–privacy. People could eventually figure out what much of Forkner shorthand says, but without training, they would not even know where to begin with Gregg. Jim  

  7. Wouldn't it be better to spend at least some time, each day, reading Gregg?

    If Gregg's anything like Pitman (and I suspect it is, in this respect) you should be able to read each outline at a glance. Just like you're reading these longhand words. Vital!!

    When I was doing an hour a day, 15 minutes of that period was spent reading each group of outlines until I could decipher each outline immediately.

  8. Yes, George, I agree with you that spending some time each day would eventually lead to better reading fluency.  With three elementary school aged kids, the best I could do is probably 15 minutes a day, but every little bit helps I guess.  My plan is not to abandon Gregg, but to get an easier system under my belt that I can use right away while working on Gregg fluency when I have time.  I have to admit that I'm a real puzzle person at heart — former computer programmer — and I really like the mystery and code-like nature of Gregg.  It's like crossword puzzles and sudoku to me.  In fact, I've even created my own version of Gregg while on vacation last month that eliminates some of the writing and reading problems that I have with 'regular' Gregg.  It sacrifices speed a little, I'm sure, in order to gain better legibility (to me at least).  So I'd like to put Gregg on the back burner for a while, still working it because it's fun, but also learning something else that's easier and more functional right out of the box.   Jim, I assume you experienced speeds similar to Debi — around 80-100 wpm and that this was sufficient?   Also, has anyone ever used SuperWrite?  How does it compare with Forkner, Speedwriting, etc.?  I read a thread about it here (using my newly discovered Search function 🙂 ) and it too sounds like it might be worth looking into.   I appreciate everyone's comments very much.

  9. Kim, you might wish to consider Teeline. While there's nothing wrong with Forkner, it's a dead system, while Teeline is alive and well in the Commonwealth. In fact, you can take classes by correspondence course, and there's even a free online course available.

    It has a speed potential of about 140 wpm, I've been told.

  10. George,   While Forkner would be considered "dead," you might well say the same of both Pitman and Gregg, since neither has been taught in public schools for a number of years. The biggest problem with Forkner was that it was in competition with Pitman and Gregg and did not have anywhere near the speed potential of either.   My biggest complaint about teeline is the difficulty getting materials for it, at least here in Canada. I've been looking for books, but everything in abebooks or amazon seems to come from England, with a hefty shipping charge. has two books both of which are unavailable.   Mind you, the amazon site is showing a new book on teeline, Teeline for Journalists (August 18, 2006), which comes with an MP3 CD of exercizes so that you can teach yourself and build speed. Perhaps there is one kind of shorthand that has survived extinction.   Jim

  11. Jim,   The book you're referring to is available as a free download at this site – and no, it's not a dodgy!   If it were me learning Teeline, I'd want to start using the TN/DN, TRN/DRN & RN blends immediately – I don't know why they've relegated them to the back of the book.   Also, which it's an easy system in relation to other non-alphabetic shorthands, Forkner is probably simpler.   HTH! Ian

  12. Forkner:

    Quite so. Gregg, and Pitman New Era (the acme of Pitman), is quite dead, in terms of being taught in public schools.

    But in the UK, Pitman 2000 is quite well and thriving, however; Pitman Centres all over the UK still teach it. It's preferred by some over Teeline because Pitman is a little bit more versatile. Even Pitman 2000 can be cranked up to 200wpm, but that's not until a lot of abbreviations from New Era are introduced. By itself, its apogee is about 140wpm. (In this respect, Pitman 2000 is a lot like Diamond Jubilee Gregg). Pitman is still used widely in the Middle East (surprisingly). (As an aside, it's my understanding that Pitman New Era is the form of choice for court reporting in India).

    Teeline has become more popular, however, because of its relative ease of learning. It has taken over the secretary's market. It's widely taught in the UK.

    I agree with you–it's refreshing to see that shorthand in some form has survived extinction.

  13. At my high school they taught both Gregg and Forkner.  I had a classmate who was in the Forkner class.  At the end of the year, she was writing accurately at 100 wpm.  I missed hitting the 100 wpm by one test before the end of the year.    It seems to have had pretty decent possibilities.  By the time I got to my second year, they merged the advanced students (we had a text book that was published in both forms).  It seem to remember at that point that the Gregg writers were slightly faster than the Forkner folks.  By the end of my second year, I was writing 120 wpm and I think the Forkner students were doing 110 pretty consistently.    Good luck.   Peter

  14. kimsim,

    Please keep us updated on your progress with your chosen alphabetic system!

    I'm not sure I'd ever switch from Gregg, but I have to admit that, like GB Shaw, I never recommend it or any other non-alpha system—for the very reasons you've stated. 100 wpm in 6 months is usually preferable to 180 in 3 years.

    Also, is Forkner positional? How does it look? I can't seem to find any examples on the internet.

  15. Forker is a mostly alphabetic shorthand.  I do remember that there was one stroke in Forkner that looked much like the Gregg "gay" stroke.  It uses capital letters to represent certain word beginnings.  I thought I had a beginning Forker book somewhere.  If I can find it, I will scan a little something as an example. 

  16. If you're still curious about Forkner, I wrote a little Wikipedia article about it and some of the principles in it 🙂

    I'm really torn about pursuing it any more. On the one hand, it's much easier to legibly write on the bus, which is where I do the majority of my writing outside of class. It's also really easy to pick up concepts, and the vowels are a cinch. On the other, if you already have experience in Gregg (four years here), there's no reason to switch over to another system except out of curiosity or for fun.

    I'm personally too scatterbrained to do two systems, but my stint with Forkner was very interesting and informative!

  17. I know Forkner thoroughly (except for those pesky rarely-used -fixes), but never worked at the speed. My text says there are companion cassettes for 80-120pwm for the second term (after the theory has been learned.)

    It's good to know it can be pushed faser. I write it 40wpm neatly, managed to get a passage up to 70wpm last week with drill. It's easy to write new words in, as each letter is written independently, like regular cursive. Gregg, I find it takes a few tries to get the loop shaped efficiently for the strokes around it, and how long to draw before curving to get the loops size and line length I want.

    Forkner doesn't get undecipherable at speed — assuming your cursive doesn't. It's easy to tell which "letter" was intended.

    It takes a lot more strokes per sound, but fewer than speedwriting.

    All brief forms are the key and/or initial sounds of the word. (Except "the", which is common enough you remember it.)

    Most common vowels are left out, but can be added in later, like Pitman. Some ambiguity there, about the same amount as Gregg. Long and short A have the same shape.

    It rarely leaves out "information". I find Gregg annoying in that s can mean sub- and e can mean -ly, m can mean -ment. Forkner doesn't have that problem.

    There is a tiny bit of positional information, but you don't need lines to write on; the positions show relative to the existing letters just fine.

    A non-writer, seeing an example, would recognize maybe 1/2 of the letters immediately, and might be able to follow along if it were read to him.

    There are fewer than 80 principles, of which only about 50 are absolutely required; the rest are prefixes and suffixes which can be spelled out.

  18. Cricket: You'll find those "annoying" affixes in Gregg like "ly" and "ment" to be blessings once you get used to them. I remember being annoyed at first when I first read "eerie" and "early" were spelled the same, but now I don't even blink an eye at -ly… it's always clear what's meant, especially once you're far enough along to read in terms of outlines instead of individual letters.

    As you progress and see how well thought-out and clear these affixes are in actual application, you'll wonder how you lived without them 🙂

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