Pitman or Gregg

What is the difference between Pitman and Gregg? Which one should I learn?

(by chunho88 for everyone)

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  1. Here's an opinion from a Pitman writer-to-be.

    . Both systems are stellar systems. Speed potential is similar for both. Pitman is a series of penflicks while Gregg looks like normal cursive handwriting.

    Pitman would feel awkward for a person whose handwriting is better than his print. The rules of Pitman are far more difficult, in my opinion.

    Pitman's weird-looking–bunches of dots and dashes, broken lines, etc. It looks like something from outer space.

    It's generally believed that, while Pitman is harder to learn, it's easier to read. I agree with this. Gregg writers are encouraged to develop their own style; this is strongly frowned on in Pitman, which encourages unambiguity.

    The differences in position and thickness are a tremendous aid to reading; very similar (or identical) outlines aren't mistaken for one another.

    One plus for Gregg writers is a much lower load of short (brief) forms. But as a plus for Pitman, theory is learnt after only about three months in many cases. One Pitman school in the UK teaches Pitman theory in only 6 weeks; another 6 weeks of study gets 60-80wpm. You can even learn Pitman theory in 15 days in an online course in India. It seems that, while Pitman's more difficult, faster writing is achieved earlier.

    In the end, I believe the student should follow his instinct. Look at examples of Pitman and Gregg and learn the one you feel most comfortable with. If you're an American, it'll almost certainly be Gregg.

  2. Gregg.

    Bwa ha ha!

    Could I be biased? Nah.

    Gregg is based on a more natural system of motion for writing, and is much easier than Pitman. It is also just as fast as Pitman, assuming one practices it.

    With Gregg, you only worry about one position and one thickness. With Pitman, you add vowels after writing the outline, the position determines the meaning of most words, and the thickness dictates the consonant (a thick line is a b, and a thin line is a p, etc.)

    With Gregg, you "write" the outlines, rather, than "drawing" them. Pitman is really a system of penflicks, while Gregg shorthand is a gorgeous set of easy-to-write outlines.

    This is my opinion on the issue. There are lots of great Pitmanic writers, and it is an old, successful system. However, Gregg is a beautifully constructed system of writing that can achieve magnificent speeds.

    This is my proverbial two cents.

  3. You should learn Gregg. No question.

    But seriously, the debate never ends and the choice is almost arbitrary. Both systems have alot to argue for them technically, and both have flaws. Holistically, Pitman's apparently alive and perhaps more well than Gregg in most of the English speaking world; various texts are still in print. But with Gregg there's this group, and a bottomless supply of cheap used out of print texts on Ebay and ABEBooks.

    You might enjoy a quick skim of "Basic Principles of Gregg"—it's Dr. Gregg's own answer to your question, and a little primer on the theory of shorthand. Our invaluble forum-mate Andrew serves the pdf at http://gregg.angelfishy.net/

    Also, beware of comparing apples and oranges: there are six editions/revisions of Gregg and three of Pitman; successive editions were simplifications of the originals, intended to ease learning (at the comprimise of speed potential).

    The clincher for me was just that Gregg doesn't require lined paper or an edged pen.

  4. Routine:

    Is that Basic Principles of Gregg the treatise Dr Gregg wrote in 1922, comparing Gregg to Pitman and others?

    If so, I'm here to tell you that book is full of half-truths, inaccuracies, and in a couple of cases, outright lies. A couple of times, I laughed out loud. Now I'm not trying to start a flame war–really, I'm not–I'm merely putting that book in its proper perspective. It's a sales pitch, and not a very accurate one of that.

    Moreover, the statement that there were three editions of Pitman isn't really accurate; there were two or three sub-editions, as well. Cases where minor changes were made. For example, there was the Classical New Era, the Revised New Era, and something called "New Course" that I'm not overly familiar with.

  5. Sidhe:

    Pitman Shorterhand was the "infant" version of Pitman 2000; it was a vastly simplified version of Pitman New Era (the apogee of the system), designed to be taught in classrooms in a half-year rather than the standard one-year. (Today, the system is taught in a mere 60 hours of instruction.) It's pretty easy to learn. Short forms are kept to a bare minimum.

    It was a good system for amanuensis but not designed for verbatim recording; the closest Gregg equivalent was probably DJS.

    Further refinements brought about the Pitman 2000 that is still widely taught in the Commonwealth.

    Apropos my former post, Shorterhand is one of the several sub-editions of Pitman.

  6. > Is that Basic Principles of Gregg the treatise Dr Gregg wrote in 1922?


    > If so, …

    Yes, he wasn't trying very hard to be fair there, was he? But besides indiscriminate use of the word "scientific" (which seems to have been popular back then), he wasn't trying very hard to be seriously empirical either. It's mostly anecdotes and quotations. I think the book is interesting for Gregg's own theory, how he sees the system fitting together.

    > Moreover, the statement that there were three editions of Pitman isn't really accurate; there were two or three sub-editions, as well.

    Thanks for the correction. I'd be interested to see a complete outline of Pitman editions.

  7. Routine:

    Information on this topic is sketchy; I've had to piece it together from several different sources. Here's a rough guide:

    Pre-1924: This era was far too complex to summarize here!! It would take pages to explain it all.

    1924: Classical New Era

    1950 or so: "New Course"

    1960s: Revised New Era (this is an educated guess)

    1964: Pitman Shorterhand, an "infant version" of Pitman 2000.

    circa 1972: Pitman 2000–a fine-tuning of the system.

    1972: PitmanScript comes out; inexplicably, it is a failure.

    early 1980s: Anniversary Pitman. This was less a revision of theory than it was a revision of teaching.

    You will notice that, during the 70s and 80s, both Pitman versions ran concurrently. Pitman 2000 was aimed at secretaries while Pitman New Era was aimed at journalists and court reporters in the Commonwealth.

    1990s: Pitman New Era pretty much died, in terms of being taught in schools. I have only found two schools that still teach it. It's still widely used in India, however, for court reporting.

    Apropos Dr. Gregg's tome–despite the flaws in his work, he did have three or four formidable points. It's to the Pitman people's credit that several issues were addressed, which led to Pitman New Era two years later….

    If any forummate who reads this has further information on the evolution of Pitman, I'd be much obliged to hear from you.

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