Speed Records – Pitman vs. Gregg

The introductory chapter of the 1922 edition of Gregg Reporting Shortcuts is a long report on speed results of various systems – explaining how when Pitman was introduced for some 50-plus years the entrenhed reporters who used older systems claimed that Pitman lacked the speed possibilities for reporting usage. Then when the older systems fell out of use and Pitman became firmly entrenched, the anti-Gregg movvement is described in detail. The most interesting portion of this essay is the assembly of speed contest records … now, I’m not anti-Pitman although I am a Gregg writer, but apparently the Pitman publishers falsified the records of their own speed contests for which they awarded certificates, as in public contests open to writers of all systems, the very same stenographers who had Pitman-issued awards could not approach those speeds – a holder of a Pitman 200 wpm certificate for example could only write 165 wpm in an open-to-the-public contest. Food for thought, no?

(by jrganniversary for everyone)

66 comments Add yours
  1. Ah, JRG, you've fallen for an old sales pitch. I don't even know where to start.

    One thing that must be realized, though, is that, in 1922, the old Pitman was used; it was very difficult; inconsistent position-writing rules, esoteric strokes, short (brief) forms that were subsequently dropped, etc. In 1924 the system was drastically revised; partly because of Dr. Gregg's polemic, which, despite some distortions, half-truths, and downright lies in a couple of places, did have some formidable points. Pitman New Era and the old Pitman aren't mutually readable.

    Moreover, some of Dr. Gregg's statements are openly contradictory. While in The Factors of Shorthand Speed, Dr. Gregg (who'd bought the rights to the book) asserts that Pitman speed tests were "rigged", in the text itself, several would-be Pitman speed writers in the same book failed these same "rigged" tests.

    JRG, almost anything written by Shorthand system proponents–of both Gregg and Pitman persuasions–are polemics. There was a horrible tug-of-war going on, and this was during the days that union workers were shot down like dogs. In terms of business dealings, it really was the survival of the fittest. Is it any wonder that the shorthand people lied through their teeth? Boy, I could tell you stories about skullduggery in Shorthandland (if anything, the Pitman people were worse), but it'd take hours.

    This post itself isn't intended to be a polemic, only to suggest the type of business dealings that prevailed in those days.

  2. i have no doubt that the proponents of various systems were capable of the utmost skullduggery to popularize their product … could it be that certain European politicians studied their methods in the '20's? I was unaware that old Pitman was extensively revised in 1924. If I honestly embark upon an effort to learn Pitman, would you recommend New Era or the 2000 version?

  3. Well, JRG, it depends upon your motives.

    Pitman New Era has the capabilities of phenomenal speeds, but it's qutie difficult to learn compared to Gregg, and there's a zillion short forms.

    Pitman 2000 is downright easy–it could be compared to DJS–but its speed potential–under normal circumstances–is only about 120-140wpm. (By that time, pen court reporting was all but dead) There WAS an expert Pitman2000, but it seems to have only survived one edition. (This could be compared with Expert DJS).

    Don't bother with old Pitman. It really is inferior to both Gregg and Pitman New Era, besides being harder than hell.

    If you're interested in learning either Pitman, I'd VERY strongly suggest the Teach Yourself Series, because all the other books are better suited to a classroom. It makes all the difference in the world.

  4. I used to be so staunch in the fight between Gregg and Pitman. Then I started watching how serious machine steno people get when it comes to theories! You wouldn't believe how intense those fights can become. It is such an emotional thing for them.

    At least we pen stenographers should be happy in the fact that we don't really have much cause to fight when it comes to comparing systems. Both seem to do a good job.


  5. Marc:

    You are exactly correct; I wasn't going to go there because this thread would have become hopelessly obtuse.

    But to summarize, Benn Pitman's system had 35-40% of the market, while Brother Isaac's system had only about 6% of the market by the 'teens. The two systems aren't mutually readable; an analogy would be written English and Italian.

    Benn died in 1910; his main competitor, Andrew Graham, 1905. Isaac was long dead. So when Dr. Gregg mass-marketed his system in 1910, there was noone around to defend Pitman in America. It fell like a dead tree. In 1910, 10 business colleges in Boston taught Pitman; by 1920, only one did.

    Let's face it–Pre-Anniversary Gregg really was superior to those Pre-New Era systems. The speed contests tell the whole story. In the late teens, a young upstart, only 19 years old–I think it might have been Charles Swem–beat the socks off Pitman writers with years of experience. The proof in the pudding is in the eating.

    In 1924, Pitman New Era came out, but by that time, the damage had already been done.

    Dr. Gregg was an Ubergenius in marketing–the right approach, at exactly the right time.

    And this is the SHORT version!!

  6. JRG:

    If I might be so presumptuous as to give a couple of pointers–the Facility Drills really need to be practiced. Attention to size of the strokes is important. Gregg students don't talk about this much, but smaller strokes mean faster writing. The microseconds it takes to draw longer strokes add up. You can test this yourself by writing smaller longhand passages. See how much faster you can write if you write smaller?

    Plus, proper execution of the thick and thin strokes is vital. You'll see why when you get there.

    This is one area that Gregg students have it easier.

  7. I wonder if the reason Gregg doesn't emphasize smaller outlines is that long strokes are integral to the system, e.g.-M, L, G, etc.  If JRG were to promote small outlines, he may have accidentally promoted Pitman!

  8. Since I learned Gregg Simplified in a cllassroom from 1958 through 1960, the shorthand written by Charles Zoubek seemed an ideal size. In fact, the old steno pads I ran across demonstrate that my notes at high speed preserved that size. I would think larger notes would begin to resemble scrawls!

  9. GA:

    Of course the Gregg strokes may be made "relative" to the others. When "k" and hard "g" are introduced in the manual, the "g" is approximately twice the length of the "k". "R" is half the length of "L". "D" is double the length of "T". Etc., etc

    Writing Gregg is similar to handwriting … you can write very large letters or very small. The shorthand plates pre-Anniversary seem very small (they were in fact reduced before pubolication), whereas the plates from Gregg Speed Studies (Third Edition) on are a good size for emulation.

    I have one of the books with plates written by Georgie Gregg as well as the 1902 manual with plates by JRG himself. Clear shorthand but very small. For my personal taste, I like to approximate the size of Zoubek's and Radar's writing.

    I will follow your advice when performing the exercises in Pitman … but call it karma if you will, although I'll approach the system with an open mind, I'm not enthusiastic about it. Perhaps the EUP publication once studied and practiced will change my mind. Time will tell.

  10. Following what GeorgeAmberson1 wrote, I have read in many different shorthand systems: "Try to do smaller strokes, because smaller strokes will allow you to write faster." If you compare Preann with DJ or even Simplified, you'll notice that Preann has smaller strokes. I don't remember where, but I read something like "when you write 1, pay attention to the size of the first stroke of that number, that would be the size of the T stroke." Well, about Pitman v/s Gregg, I'm now in my YO-YO phase. It's written in my Pitman book that short forms are composed according to the rules of the system, so you don't need to use arbitrary abbreviations for contracting words. For example, I'm dealing with the phrase "Constituci처n Pol챠tica": In Pitman, Constituci처n is written in first position, with a K stroke, and the ST loop under the K stroke indicating there's an N sound. And "Pol챠tica" is written just for a P stroke through "Constituci처n"… Could anyone suggest how to do it in Gregg? By the way, the longest word in Spanish is "ANTICONSTITUCIONALMENTE". Nice form for Presidente de la Rep첬blica, isn't it?    

  11. Valo:

    That all reminds me of something I read in "How to Write 250 wpm in Pitman Shorthand".

    There was a phrase: "What did you say to him and what did he say to you", that was written with fewer strokes, than your "anticonstitucionalmente". I laughed out loud. Funny thing was, this phrase was not written with arbitrary short forms; the short forms were all accepted, easily-recognizable ones. The position-writing and thickness of the various strokes does afford the writer more opportunities for abbreviations than Gregg writers would have.

    You could have gone outside and smoked a cigarette by the time the speaker caught up with you…

  12. Thanks Chuck!!!     I figured them as you did it, except (I think is my "adaptation") in ANTICONSTITUCIONALMENTE, I join t-m with the TM blend, for avoiding obstuse angle.   I remember these short forms in Marti shorthand: Mayor > Menor < Más o menos +— Constitución   c      

  13. Yes, you can blend the t-m, good point. I didn't think of it, because the k – s – t – m can be written very rapidly anyway!

    If you have a list of parliamentary phrases in Spanish in Pitman, would you care to share it? I wouldn't mind to write them in Gregg.

  14. George: Yes, it's true that although some Gregg letters are longer than others, they needn't been long, if the smaller letters are kept in proportion.  I don't have a problem with Gregg letter sizes, but am taking a stab at why Gregg material encourages students to find their own comfortable size, while Pitman teaches that smaller is better.    If I were a Pitman proponent, one way I might try to paint my system superior could be to point out that it's outlines can be written with shorter lines, and thus more quickly.  Whether or not that is true is someone else's guess, but maybe the reason JRG didn't emphasize small outlines was to dodge this possible criticism of his system.

  15. John, I have another theory that has just come to me.

    I've found that, when I print, I really can write much faster if the letters are smaller. It's been my experience that Pitman has the same tactile feel as writing in print. If my theory is correct, writing Pitman with smaller letters really would increase speed–in fact, the Pitman greats insist that it does.

    Perhaps Gregg, using a different tactile feel closer to cursive, doesn't benefit as much, I don't know–but I have noticed that some Gregg greats–was Charles Swem among them?–have said that size doesn't matter much.

    Does this theory sound reasonable to you?

  16. I'm not sure that smaller is faster in Gregg.  I found that when I was writing at high speed, and this is something I observed in other writers on the job, our outlines got larger.  The size of your notes seems to be rather individualistic tendency.  In the various expositions in the Gregg books, they do talk about the difference in size of notes, one reporter being able to get about 500 words on a page and another who got fewer based on the size of the notes.  The most important thing is that you stay true to the proportions of the strokes. 

  17. I have the Diamond Jubilee text. I find it very hard to decipher words, even in context. The loop size and line lengths are often hard to figure out. I've used a ruler, and some T's are longer than some D's. I'd have expected the samples in a textbook to be better done.

  18. The number 1 being the size of the T-stroke. That would be Teeline, still taught to journalists in the UK. The intro clearly states that your Teeline notes will be similar in shape, slant and clarity to your natural writing. So if you normally write cramped, back-slanted, and loosely, your Teeline will be the same. What matters is whether you can read them, not how close they are to the samples in the text. The shapes in that system are all very unique, so there's little chance of confusing similar outlines.

  19. CricketBeautiful-1 sometimes the outlines aren't great in textbooks.  I have an Anniversary one for Dictation and Transcription and struggle to read the outlines.  Like yours, some outlines aren't easy to decipher.  They were written by someone proficient but aparently not well done in this book (can't remember the name, sorry).  If it's a learning book it should be better quality, but that isn't always the case in any shorthand system. Debbi

  20. Talking about stroke length, I wonder if anyone else is as klutzy as I am !   I've been trying so hard to distinguish my m's and n's , p's and b's, f's and v's, that now I'm failing to distinguish the nt blend and under-th! Believe it or not, I can't tell the difference half the time between my comma s's and f's.   "It's always something," to quote Roseanne Rosannadanna's father.

  21. Attention to proportion should always be foremost in your mind.  In the stress of writing for speed, you will lose control of the outlines a bit.  The proof is in the pudding as they say.  Getting it down is one thing — being able to make an accurate transcript is quite another.  I've had takes where I know I got every word.  Then when I go to transcribe, my confidence seems a bit misplaced.    In rapid writing, there is a tendency to slur some of the strokes.  Like the text books say, read what you've written and make a list of the outlines that you flubbed.  Practice them and take the dictation again.  Read as much well-written shorthand as you can.  It really does help to imprint the forms.  I hadn't been able to do much dictation recently, but I was reading every chance I got, sometimes reading and tracing what I was reading in the air.  This weekend, I sat down for some serious dictation practice and I was really surprised at how much better my shorthand looked.  You will start to mimick what you see. 

  22. I suspect graph paper wouldn't help much for Gregg, but it would probably work for Pitman.

    Gregg has a definite slant, and if you look at the samples, especially of the fast writers, it's not consistent; when a letter is in a word, the surrounding letters change it. You might be able to do angles with it. Centre of square to corner, or quarters.

    My son used graph paper while learning cursive, and now writes vertical. (But at least it's consistent, which is a great improvement!)

    I picked up some calligraphy graph paper in the discard bin at Staples ages ago; it's now burried. Bienfang? brand? Might be worth playing with.

  23. In fairness George, I can't agree with you that stroke length in Pitman isn't as critical as Gregg.   In Pitman words such as no/nay/knee & net/nit/note/knit/nut & enter/inter (where the words separated by slashes have the same outline) are distinguished solely by length.  That's a potential to confuse at least 10 words!  Yes, I know you could clarify slightly by adding a vowel, but in practice this is not done.  And I challenge you to make the distinction between the O in note and the U in nut at any speed!   Length in Pitman can change the meaning of an outline much more drastically than length in Gregg.   Of course, we're talking about theoretical problems, which both systems overcome in practice.   Ian

  24. <>

    I can't agree with you on this one at all, Ian.

    At least, in Piman, you know–in each and every one of those cases–that an "n" is represented; in Gregg, changing the length of a character changes the sound completely. Contrast the "m" stroke and "n" stroke. In Pitman, the length of a stroke has a more intricate meaning that cannot be mistaken for another sound.

    Those examples you posted are highly specialized; in actual practice, changes in position or vocalization would lessen the difficulty in transcription. I could parse those examples more closely, but the other forummates wouldn't understand the complexities.

    For just one tiny example, the outlines for "me" and "knee" are very similar, and a mistake in execution would be far more serious.

    We might have to have a gentleman's agreement to disagree on this one.

  25. "Those examples you posted are highly specialized; in actual practice, changes in position or vocalization would lessen the difficulty in transcription. "   Each of those words I chose are written exactly the same, in exactly the same position.  The only difference would be in the vowel signs, which are omitted.  The Pitman writer would rely on context to read the words correctly, just as the Gregg writer would.  Or for that matter, the Teeline writer 🙂   Plus, we could debate whether it is 'safer' to distinguish between T & D, say, by the length of the stroke, or it's thickness.   I say all this not to argue with you, or to try to drag down Pitman or any other shorthand.  All systems are a compromise between simplicity and brevity.  I'm completely non-partisan when it comes to shorthand.  Which is why I still write Teeline because I learnt it 20 years ago and it works for me, even though there are 'better' ones available – ones that don't, for example, disjoin the combinations RT & RD or TT & TD, some of the most common combinations in the English language that really should be written in one stroke.   We might have to have a gentleman's agreement to disagree on this one.   I think you're probably right on this one, George!  I respect your opinions, and enjoy all your posts.  I certainly don't want to fall out with you 🙂  Nevertheless, I hope that, although we disagree, we disagree constructively!  And all this debate on the merits and demerits of shorthand harkens back to the good old 1880s, the "Golden Age of Shorthand" (so far as the UK is concerned).  Perhaps we should take this discussion over to the 'Anything Goes' thread?   Ian

  26. Ian, you're quite right in your point.

    I'd read the original post, and replied, when I'd just gotten up from a nap; I should have known better.

    On a related note, I'd read a book at a local university comparing the systems. Written in the 1950s, the book–aimed at teaching methods–focused on the three extant systems in the US at the time, viz., Pitman, Gregg, and Thomas Natural Shorthand. The writers came to the conclusion that,"at this time, the perfect system of shorthand has not yet been invented." Knowing about Pitman's pitfalls, and reading the troubles and travails that Gregg writers have on this site, I concur.

    Of course, Thomas Natural Shorthand has become extinct, but the spirit of the system lives on, at least in the Commonwealth, as Teeline, which I know little about. I conclude, however, that it wasn't designed for mega-speeds, merely business speeds. Is this correct?

  27. Hi George, One of the great things about Pitman is that, while you can pick holes in individual bits of theory such as thickening or vowel omission, when all the principles are used in concert, it produces really distinctive and brief outlines that can be deformed when written at speed, but are still completely legible.   Therein lies its genius, I suspect! 🙂 I understand that Teeline was originally designed, not as a new system of shorthand, but as a simplified method of fast writing.  James Hill, the inventor, was a writer and teacher of Pitman shorthand, but noticed that lesser able students could write faster using their own abbreviated longhand than they could using shorthand, even after a year of tuition.  He decided to experiment with simplifying longhand symbols and longhand spelling, in an effort to devise a method that would be simple enough for less able students to learn in a very short time, but fast enough to be of use. That’s why the symbols of Teeline can be very complicated – it was the transparent link with the respective longhand letter that was considered far more important than allocating the simplest sign for the most common sound. Once James Hill roadtested the system, he realised that it was simple enough, and had enough speed potential, to be a viable alternative to traditional methods of shorthand. Originally, Teeline was published in two parts – Basic Teeline, with a speed potential of up to 100 words a minute, and Advanced Teeline, which adapted the system to speeds of up to 200 words a minute.  (200 words a minute may be reachable for short periods of time, on predictable matter such as court testimony, but for a normally talented writer, I maintain that sustained speeds of 140 to 160 are all that can be expected.  I hear on this board that there are exceptions, and that makes sense.  I recently read about a writer of  Gurney’s shorthand who had a certified speed certificate of 160.  Now that’s mindboggling!) A very short while later, Basic and Advanced Teeline were merged, and the current modern day system was born.  Well, more or less.   I use expedients that the latest editions no longer contain, but both versions are mutually intelligible – the symbols are the same, but some of the abbreviating expedients have been simplified or improved. So you are right – Teeline was never designed to be a court reporting system.  It was devised specifically for secretaries and journalists, where a speed of 120 words a minute is perfectly adequate, and needs to be acquired in a relatively short time. (Journalists in the UK are still required to pass a shorthand examination at a minimum of 100 words a minute) It’s interesting to note that at the time Teeline was published, its only real rivals were Pitman & Speedwriting.  I wonder what would’ve happened if some of the ‘better’ previously created simple systems were still around.    Callendar’s Orthic is a simple system of genius which could very well have filled the gap that Teeline now occupies, as well as Thomas Natural Shorthand. In the shorthand biz, it seems it’s not necessarily the survival of the fittest, but the survival of the best publicised that wins out! Ian (With sincere apologies for the thread drift!)

  28. Teeline is also less proscriptive right from chapter one, encouraging you to use your own spellings (at least the two books I've read). Pros and cons to allowing that much freedom before you know the entire theory.

    It also encourages you to use the vowels that a word is spelled with unless it's clearly a different sound. For good spellers (hopefully that includes journalism students) that may be faster. (It took me ages to write "weigh" as "w-a" rather than "w-e-oops".)

    (Just checked my shelf. I hadn't moved the book downstairs. It's Teeline by I.C.Hill, The Shorthand of the Future, Canadian Edition, A Blend of Basic and Advanced Teeline, Originally devised by James Hill, Cdn edition by Talbot and Tomko, Pub by Heinemann Edcnl books London and Teelinge edcnl services (BC) Ltd, New Westminster BC, 1977 paperback. Typewritten double-spaced copy; not a lot of money went into typesetting. I suspect rather small print run. The highlighting and pen notes show it was used in at least on course.)

  29. Hi Ian and everyone !   Ian, in a post on this thread you refer to "Callendar's Orthic, a simple system of genius" and I was intrigued by what you meant. How can we find out more about that system?   The reason that I ask is that I always – for years now – compare the systems I've looked at with Gregg, and Gregg always comes out seeming to be about as pure and simple as one could get. I need to read up on it, but I think Gregg studied many systems and distilled the best features – several other contemporary systems are somewhat similar.  Anyway, even though Gregg aimed for a more cursive, handwritten look, nevertheless it's quite amazing to look at the geometry of Gregg: the curved strokes are all fourths of a circle, and the straight lines are just that, pure straight lines that slant right or left, and, of course, two of the vowels are whole little circles.  I always wonder why no one thought of it centuries ago. And/or you could see Pitman and Gregg as the two cases of modern simplicity based on this fundamental geometry.   To tell the truth, I don't always make my Gregg characters elliptical, and especially I don't always make the curves "bunch up" toward the right as Gregg calls for, but that seems like a minor point. It's also interesting that as far as their basic geometric shapes go, Pitman and Gregg are the same idea except for assigning different sounds to the curves and lines.  Too, I would rather use length than thickening to distinguish the characters. That, too, is interesting because someone said that in the more "calligraphic" old days, people were used to just turning their pens slightly to thicken a stroke.  By the way, just imagine having to be fast AND stop to dip your pen in an inkwell as they must have done for centuries. In fact, I remember buying blotters when we got into high school and had to use a fountain pen instead of a pencil, so did the court reporters have to take time to "blot" to keep from smearing the ink with the side of the hand?!   Anyway, wonder why it took so many centuries for shorthand designers to get around to simple geometry? And if Callendar's Orthic is indeed simple, in what way is that compared to Gregg?   Jim

  30. Jim (nice to get a name I can spell!!) et al,   The links below get you to pdfs of Callendar's Orthographic Cursive (hopefully).  It's in two parts.   First Part: http://www.orbitfiles.com/download/id742973114 Second Part: http://www.orbitfiles.com/download/id742945508   There was a further reporting supplement to this book.   I don't know what you'll think of it.  It's orthographic, not phonetic (although can be written as phonetically as the alphabet can), and the letters aren't as simplified as Gregg or Pitman.  It's a mixture between a script-geometric system, like Gregg, and a pure script system, like Gabelsberger.   I think it's genius because of it's simplicity of theory, rather than the simplicity of the characters, though I bet it could be written just as fast as Gregg or Pitman.  It's such an elegant, but simple and brief system.   Anyway, I'm at work now and have to go on a day's training (they're changing the staff appraisal system again!), so I don't have time to write more.   Let me know what you think.   Cheers, Ian   (Perhaps one of the moderators should move this bit to 'Anything Goes'?)

  31. I like cursive, too. It's penmanship is tolerant, and the alphabet
    composes really well—so much so that Callendar recommends against
    abbreviation for speed to 100wpm.

    His presentation of the theory is exceptionally clear and simple, too; and
    how about that introduction! It's like a second-year university course
    in shorthand theory! Surprising that it wasn't even one of his top two
    fields of expertise.

  32. Routine,   Orthic in the links above, is Callendar's follow up to Cursive (which can be downloaded here:  ).  I love Cursive – and agree with you about the introduction – but I think Orthic is simpler and more elegant, if you can get your mind around the orthographic spelling.   If you like interesting introductions to shorthand books, have you read this one:  Now the first 3 chapters really are like theses!   Ian

  33. > …Orthic in the links above, is Callendar's follow up to Cursive …I
    > love Cursive … but I think Orthic is simpler and more elegant…

    Wow. My eyes popped.

    Have you used this?

    > If you like interesting introductions to shorthand books, have you
    > read this one:

    Could you post that again with the link in plaintext?

  34. Glad you liked Orthic!  I don't use it to any extent (although actually do use it if I'm making notes and  have to note a spelling.)  I really should use it more.   Oops!  I'm not sure what happened to my links!   Callendar's Cursive shorthand is at: http://www.archive.org/details/manualofcursives00calliala Which is the precursor to (in my opinion) superior Orthic Shorthand.   And the book with the read-worthy introduction is: http://www.archive.org/details/manualoflinearsh00clayiala   It's called Linear Shorthand, written by AJ Clay.  His analysis of the sounds and symbols of shothand is great, although I don't think he carried his analysis out particularly well in practice.   In fact, just go to the site and look for 'shorthand' on http://www.archive.org if you haven't already discovered the site – there's lots of great stuff there!   Ian

  35. > His analysis of the sounds and symbols of shothand is great, although
    > I don't think he carried his analysis out particularly well in
    > practice.

    I thought you might have had Clay's introduction in mind, and I agree
    with you about it on both counts. His prose is also pretty dreadful.
    Seems to have been a common affliction among shorthand inventors.

    I see we're getting pretty far from the Gregg Topic shore, but orthographic shorthands is another interesting subject.

    I'm studying Sweet's orthographic right now. Not as clean as
    Callendar's, but it has other advantages. The graphical layout is
    beautifully logical.

    The internet archive is great fun!

  36. Routine, I never did reply to you re Sweet's. It probably put me off only by looking a bit too much like the Russian shorthand system, if only by that. And the book is indeed a bit difficult to follow. Now that Orthic got my interested, I'm looking into it again.

    Ian, thanks for posting the Orthic links. I found it fascinating and can't get it out of my mind. If you have been using it at all, do you find it easy to read back? If writing at speed, I'm sure Teeline would remain more legible, but the fact that you can write out entire words not missing a single vowel in Orthic is fascinating. And it does not spread all over like Gregg. I'm giving it a shot. BTW, you mentioned you use it sometimes to write names out etc. Would this be in the middle of notes in Teeline? Have you ever tried jotting down names and (as I do) URLs using stand-alone Teeline characters?

    Anyway, would appreciate your opinion – is Orthic THE perfect journaling system? I would imagine, once you get used to recognizing the characters, notes in Orthic should be readable for ever?

  37. > is Orthic THE perfect journaling system? I would imagine, once you get
    > used to recognizing the characters, notes in Orthic should be readable
    > for ever?

    One SH inventor (I forget which) argued for a distinction between
    *legible* and *decipherable*. Our experience with the old textbooks
    shows that Gregg is *decipherable* from a distance of 100 years. But
    it's an empirical fact that we read with comprehension by recognizing
    word shapes over repeated (ie., years of) exposure—not by sounding out
    their elements.

    Given that, I'm not sure how inherent *legibility* is in *any* symbolic
    system, but presumably one that uses your own orthography would be
    easier, and presumably the more distinct its outlines the easier. Also,
    geometric systems are probably better than script in this regard; they
    have a greater range of size and shape, and more negative space.

    I like orthic because it suits my mental habits and respects the
    historical aspect of the language. Traditional English orthography is
    died in my mental wool, and even after years of Gregg, I find phonemic
    writing an extra step. (I don't have much sympathy for spelling reform
    either; historical features in natural language are not cruft.)

    The problem I have with Sweet is the number of ligatures and alternate
    forms. Composing the elements demands a lot of anticipation and
    excellent recall. That's why Callendar's Orthographic is so impressive.
    Geometric, yet very linear, very few compound and alternate shapes,
    tolerant forms, and all laid out in 9 pages!

    What's the problem with the Russian system?

  38. >What's the problem with the Russian system?   Oh, no problem. Just that it's Russian)))   I'm interested in geometric systems for the same reason many English speakers are interested in true cursive systems that the Germans invented and others derived from them, like Russian.  These systems lend themselves well for languages with very long words like, well, German and Russian))   What I was trying to say about legibility, was probably recognizability, that is Pitman and Teeline words are very angular and distinct in most cases, making common words easier to recognise in time by their outline, their distinctive shape.  But with the sort of blending into one another that is there in Gregg, also Pernin and other Duploye style shorthands and in my view, Orthic, things, well, tend to blend into each other.   In fact, Pitman and Teeline and Gregg, needs deciphering.  Orthic, when written in full, is only about legibility.  Once you're accustomed to the alphabet, there is no diciphering involved at all.  But if the writing isn't clear, then that's about legibility.

  39. <>

    Actually, in the US, Gregg had no real rivals by the 1970s; according to my research, 90% of shorthand writers in the US were writing in Gregg.

    Oddly enough, the US is the only place that Gregg absolutely dominated; in much of the rest of the world, it was really an also-ran, with just a few pockets here and there of strong usage (such as Quebec).

    I suspect this was because of the marketing genius of Dr. Gregg, who resided in the States; in the Commonwealth, as most of us know, Pitman utterly dominated.

    By the way, that Orthic Shorthand is truly beautiful; more beautiful, in terms of aesthetics, than all the others.

    Thank you for all the information.

  40. I found converting Gregg word to their letter-equivalent parts was difficult when I wasn't as familiar with the system. For example, at speed, m-e-ses (misses) looks like m-e-s done in wrong direction. X looks like S done a bit funny. They're subtle, and don't show on the 1-page "alphabet".

    I suspect people familiar with Gregg will find much of it easy, due to familiarity with outlines and with the systems as a whole.

    On the other hand, people who aren't as familiar with the system, who are relying on the "alphabet" and a quick reading of the rules, will have trouble.

    Adding to the difficulty is the number of different editions and sub-editions (e.g. Court abbreviations), individual brief forms, and penmanship (m always curves up a bit, line length).

    Then there's pronunciation, especially if you don't stick to a standardized dictionary, or if the reader doesn't have a copy of said dictionary.

    Gregg is subtle in many ways.

    The shapes in Pitman, Teeline and Forkner are all more distinct. At least in the books I have, a mid-length line by Joe 3 mm regardless; Jane's might 4, but then all of hers will be 4 mm. As opposed to Gregg, when it might be D-D in a hurry or a careless T.

    There's also the question of intended audience. If I write notes for anyone but myself, I write clearly. If it's just a draft that I'll finish with in a few days, it looks very different; lots of abbreviations and hints of letters (eventually, it'll be in Gregg).

    When I read the advice by Dupraw in the appendix of Simplified Dictation, I was amazed at how quickly I got used to his handwriting. I'm sure he wrote it a bit more carefully than usual, and restricted himself to Simplified's rules, but for the first few sentences I was convinced that it was so different from what I was used to that it would be hard-going. It was reassuring, especially since I somewhat knew DJS and was only 2 chapters into Anni when it caught my eye.

  41. <.>>

    This is true.

    In the days of old, one Pitman writer took down all the court testamony, while another transcribed; this fast-tracked the process. After all, court proceedings would go on all day long; the same guy couldn't transcribe, too! He'd have to work a double-shift.

    It would have been absolutely essential to have a shorthand system easily read by others., and I believe this is one reason Pitman kept a dominance in court-reporting in certain (but not all) circles.

    On a related note (VLindsay, perhaps you might know), nowadays, with pen court reporters, how is the transcription process handled?

  42. Hi George,

    To answer your question about pen court reporter's transcription, I
    usually do my own transcription – even overnight witness testimony, if
    need be. But if the case is too long or the witness is on the stand for
    a long time, I have someone who will help me type. She can usually read
    my notes, but if she needs it, she uses the backup recording with the
    notes. With computers, email, the internet, and digital recording, this
    process works very well. We have one reporter in this district on real
    time and she still uses a scopist. She will provide overnight
    transcript of a witness' testimony but not the full day, so I guess my
    process is okay. Even using a typist or a scopist, the court reporter
    is responsible for the accuracy of that final transcript.


  43. Hi George,

    To answer your question about pen court reporter's transcription, I
    usually do my own transcription – even overnight witness testimony, if
    need be. But if the case is too long or the witness is on the stand for
    a long time, I have someone who will help me type. She can usually read
    my notes, but if she needs it, she uses the backup recording with the
    notes. With computers, email, the internet, and digital recording, this
    process works very well. We have one reporter in this district on real
    time and she still uses a scopist. She will provide overnight
    transcript of a witness' testimony but not the full day, so I guess my
    process is okay. Even using a typist or a scopist, the court reporter
    is responsible for the accuracy of that final transcript.


  44. Working as a reporter, either in an officialship or as a deposition reporter, for the most part is not a 9-5 job.    If you are in trial, and we often do this in the trials we work on, you may have to do daily transcript.  In the old days before the computer aided transcription, you'd get a bunch of reporters together and then take shifts of the trial.  At the end of the day, the transcript would be stitched together.  Now with the CAT, you can significantly reduce the manpower needed, but it's usually at least two reporters taking the trial at different times.  At least that's what happened at the last trial I participated in.     

  45. I find it hard to believe that experts in a shorthand system could only write 165wpm or so. At my legal college, they do straight word-count (a word is a word), so 100wpm, which I can currently do in Gregg, is actually 140wpm or so. And I'm not an expert who's spent my life in the court-room writing in shorthand. Pitman can't be too different than Gregg in terms of speed potential, unless I'm ignorant!

    There are also all kinds of factors that I wonder how the contest executors took into account. On easy material, I can stenotype 100wpm no problem, but if it's dense and difficult, I can barely do 60wpm and get the 98-100% required to work as a certified court reporter in the US. I noticed in some of the test charts, they showed average syllable count, but that only says so much. Lots of l/m/g/etc. in a row can really slow you down in Gregg, even small words, yet many long, intimidating words can be broken into three, or even two, easy strokes (magnimonious is my favorite example in Anni). I'd rather write "acquiescence to entertain all documentary evidence would be superfluous" than "employment may imply application to multiple legal firms", though the trade-off there might be some mental gymnastics.

  46. "Pitman can't be too different than Gregg in terms of speed potential, unless I'm ignorant!""

    Nifty, the thing about Pitman is that all the alleged pitfalls of the system, viz., the shading, position-writing, etc., allow a whole lot more variations in execution. This effects a whole lot more possible shortforms. (Of course, the memory load is exponentially larger)

    A book exists called "How to Write 250 wpm in Pitman Shorthand". It involves learning a lot more tricks.

    After perusing the book, I find a speed of 250wpm in Pitman perfectly believable.

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