regional vowel shifts

I’m just beginning learning Simplified. I needed to write “water” the other day, and just wrote what I heard: “oo-a-t-r”. I’ve always heard the a pronounced as in father. Then I realized that was the same outline as waiter, so I looked it up and found that the outline is “oo-aw-t-r”, and remembered hearing it that way in New England. (I’m in Tennessee)

So, in general, should we expect to remember the “proper” outline, or write what we hear with some regional vowel shift.

I’m not talking about extremes here: “light” clearly has a long i–even though it is often heard as “let”, that is generally recognized as wrong, even here.

But it seems that the difference between aw in law a in father is rather subtle (unless you’re in the UK).

So, is it recommended to write what you hear, or look everything up, or whatever, as long as you can read it later.

VLindsay has certainly run into this, as accents are “thicker” in Mississippi than here.


(by harpweaver for everyone)

33 comments Add yours
  1. Was it you, Chuck, who recounted the tale of Mr. Leslie chiding Dr. Gregg for writing an outline which did not match that in the then-current Manual and JRG sprightly replied with a grin, "You can read it, can't you?"

    I would write "water" with the "o" because upon due reflection and review of my pronunciation, I believe the vowel sound matches that of "law" and "ought".

    I believe when writing shorthand, the importance of being able to read back WHAT you wrote is more important than writing it 100% correctly.

  2. Chuck, you are so right about "thick" Mississippi accents. "Water"
    sometimes is pronounced "wawta," or "door" is pronounced "do-ah," and
    the list goes on and on.

    Try being from Mississippi all your life and having an expert witness
    from New Jersey or a forensic expert originally from India.

    My shorthand teacher would cringe at some of my shortcut forms. But,
    hey, they mean something to me and I know what they are.


  3. Hello GeorgeAmberson1,   Please do not misunderstand.  Gregg Shorthand IS written phonetically regardless of any English spelling.   However, because of its variety of flexibility, the Gregg system also provides those students who desire an "exactness" with their writing the opportunity to learn additional rules in order to take advantage of the that "exactness" desired.   It is strictly an individual preference and a great flexibility available with the Gregg Shorthand System.  It is NOT required in order to learn or use Gregg Shorthand.

  4. A quiz?  Now there's homework?  🙂   Wallup:  u-o-l-p Wave:  u-a-v Waxy:  u-a-x-e Wasp:  u-o-s-p Wart:  u-o-t Wane:  u-a-n Wager:  u-a-j-reverse e Washington:  u-a-sh disjoined "ington" Wales:  u-a-l-s Warsaw:  u-a-s-o

  5. The issue with wa- has been brought before; unfortunately, I don't remember the exact posting. The rules are very simple:

    1. if the "a" sound in wa- is the short a sound, it is written in shorthand as u – o. EXCEPTION: wax is written u – a – x

    Examples: water, wall, war, warn, wand

    2. if the "a" sound in wa- is the long a sound, it is written as u – a.

    Examples: wait, wade, wafer, wake

    Quiz: How would you write the wa- combination in the following words?

    wallup, wave, waxy, wasp, wart, wane, wager, Washington, Wales, Warsaw

  6. I forgot one rule (which will cover the exception I mentioned in rule 1):

    3. if the "a" sound in wa- is an open a, it is written as u – a:

    Examples: wag, waft, wax, whack, whammy

    Also, the short "a" sound in rule 1 is the "closed" a.

  7. Thanks, Ms. Letha, for those rules, and for the understanding that one can write strictly phonetically, but there is a rule available so that someone else might be able to read it.

    Perhaps I should start signing C Nix, so that my Chuck and Chuck's Chuck don't get too confusing–especially since I'm new here.

  8. As far as I know, the only consonant W in Gregg (in Anni on at least) is that little "n" line for the middles of words, like "swamp" (s-o-m-p with an "n" under the o) or "railway" (r-a-l-a "n" under the last "a")…

  9. Chuck,   I just checked my Anniversary dictionary.  Washington is incorrect — I first learned Series 90 — I always liked the "ington" thing.    How do you write Warsaw?  It's not in the dictionary, but I can't imagine shortening it from the way I write it.  I'd be interested to know where I went wrong.    Humbly yours,   Peter

  10. taj:

    You reminded me of another reason why I earnestly recommend Speed Studies be used with the Manual when learning Anniversary … additional vocabulary and loads of reading practice.

    Anniversary drops MANY an "r" … it's difficult if I'm writing for a Simplified user to put the initial "r" in "surprise" for one of hundreds of examples. How about "March"? Once you learn to drop the "r" it's very difficult and (dare I conjecture) slows you down when remembering to write the words more fully.

    I didn't respond to the "w" "a" Quiz last night because I was already in bed, but I did get all the answers correctly … never had a doubt that Warsaw would use the "o" hook and drop the "r". LOL.

  11. D'oh!   I just realized to my eternal shame that I said "a" rather than "o" in Warsaw.  I really did mean "o".    That's what I get for not checking my work.  I used to be so good at the theory tests.    Guess I started to transcribe the word rather than give the correct outline.  At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.   Peter

  12. RGJ,   I agree 100% that "Speed Studies" should be used with the Manual when learning Anniversary.  Or one should use the Functional Method books in conjunction with the Manual.   BUT, I'm finding that the first Anniversary edition of "Speed Studies" has a number of errors in it.  I've been going through it, reading each drill 10 times (see?  I practice what I preach!) and find outlines which don't match the Anniversary dictionary.  Sure I can read through the problem outlines but. . . . the past tense of one word in the same sentence is written two different ways.  (Wish I had noted the page number!)   Errors or not, "Speed Studies" is an excellent text for additional vocabulary and practice.   For those of you trying to go from one system to another, just remember, I had to go from an Anniversary/Pre-Anniversary mindset to S90 when I worked with McGraw-Hill.  I think I've finally managed to obliterate S90 from my memory now.  🙂   Marc  

  13. Marc,

    I have several versions of Speed Studies. The one I used back in 1959 and am most familiar with is the Third Edition. But I also have the 1919 printing (which ostensibly follows the 1916 Manual), the Anniversary Edition (which I've never really examined but if you can provide the page No. of the past tense being written 2 different ways, I certainly will look at), and I believe a copy labeled Second Edition (which again I've never really examined closely)

    I really enjoyed the word list from Page 43 of Gregg Reporting Shortcuts (which is actually the 1922 book and skimming through the Chapter noted the recommendation first to practice all the wordsigns and then the wordsign derivatives on pages 135 to 139 of the Speed Studies. I went to "Third Edition" whose pages were completely different. Finally in the 1919 Speed Studies I found the intense study of wordsign derivatives on pages 135 – 139. I might mention the Gregg Reporting Shortcuts I was looking at had been reprinted in August 1944, so clearly the Gregg editors felt the book was self-explanatory (which it is) since the inital 1922 edition and the plates had never been modified in accordance with later editions of the Manual.

    But does it really matter? I have found this present thread very illuminating and really makes me believe one should choose the Gregg that is best for whatever personal reasons one might want to use it. (Although I had a nightmare last night in which the Notehand and Gregghand books sprouted fangs and tried to drink my blood! LOL)

    I have a co-worker who's noticed the shorthand books I've been bringing to work and who asked which book he should get if he wanted to learn Gregg. I explained briefly that Anniversary was best for verbatim minutes but Simplified was very good with a reduced learning/memory load. He opted for Simplified and has ordered the Manual. I'll be happy to provide any assistance he may need (I don't think he'll require much because he's a bright lad despite his 35 years and failure to read Great Expectations, having majored in English and graduate from University relying on Cliff Notes. I'll be curious to follow his progress.

  14. But he MAJORED in English. His cinematic taste is odd, too. He hates Citizen Kane and, apologies to George Amberson, considers The Magnificent Ambersons beneath contempt. But wait, let me explain his rationale: he hates movies that shot exteriors in a studio. I've tried to explain to him that there used to be no way to shoot good exterior scenes, but he refuses so believe it. Incidentally, Great Expectations is a great novel, only surpassed by Barnaby Rudge! Dudes, open your eyes. There's more to life than Marvel Comics!

  15. I'm a fan of literature, especially the French greats (Moli챔re is my favorite), but I just can't stand Dickens's heavy, soulless writing style. It always reads like a long-winded news broadcast to me.

    Isn't thread-derailing fun 😀

  16. Of course, you could just be leading up to mentioning the differing vowel shifts that occur from one county to the next in the UK, especially in Dickens' time and before. And, the UK _was_ mentioned in the starting post, after all……….

  17. I'd never critique anyone else's taste in literature, but I am truly amazed that Dickens isn't more widely read today. I love his long discursions and wry sense of humor. Inasmuch as French lit is concerned, I adore Gide and Sartre, can live happily without Proust. Yes, feeding the thread crumbs to the vultures so that we cannot find our way back to the discussion can be amusing. And, not speaking of Latin American literature, have you read "100 Years of Solitude", a delightfully whimsical saga?

  18. I've experimented with going back and adding extra marks to the vowels. Many shorthand and even regular languages do that.

    I put a light horizontal line through the vowel to mean a long sound, vertical for short, and diagonals if there are more than two. Now I'm thinking of something a bit more complicated.

    I notice from the site with the old books copied that the older Gregg systems have a long list of "vowels". It looks like something similar, but with different shapes. Is that correct? If so, could those extra marks be carried into DJS?

  19. Yes, "aw" and "ah" are generally kept apart in the UK, but in many parts of North America are not. "Father" rhymes with "bother" in my own pronunciation, which is that of the Pacific Northwest. If Gregg had a way to write "ah" as in father that was separate from "ay" as in "way", then you could still write "water" differently from "waiter". But it doesn't have enough vowel signs to do that. The most practical way to deal with it this to get a shorthand dictionary and follow its spellings.

  20. Chuck,

    I have the third edition but wanted to complete the intensive reading of the first edition first. I'm just glad to hear it wasn't ME, that there truly are errors.


    If I go back and find some of the glaring ones, I'll let everyone know. Or if run into some new ones, I'll post page numbers.


  21. Thanks, Marc! As stated I worked extensively with the Third Edition when learning Anniversary. And it is the Third Edition which is truly coordinated with the Manual.
    If there were interest today, I'd get a big kick out of editing a "new" expanded edition of the Manual (of course an Anniversary version) combining the rules and examples from the original Manual with the additional reading and practice material from Speed Studies Third Edition and as an appendix some review material from The Gregg Writer.
    I hope to have the time in the next month or so to review the material in the 1919 Speed Studies.

  22. I just want to add to this post as a whole these thoughts:   When you are undertaking the task of learning any discipline, then you stick witht the rules as they are being taught in order to build a baseline skill that you can eventually own and then customize as you see fit.  In doing so, you must always consider that if you are learning a skill which might also require others to understand what you are doing, then consider performing the tasks within the standards that have been set.  Given that, if you really learn to write shorthand phonetically, it doesn't matter what construction use use, e.g. water could be easily written as oo-o-t-e-r OR oo-a-t-e-r and given the outline in addition to the context it was written, it could be deciphered correctly.  This is often the case when you run in to words that you are not familiar with during live dictation.  When in doubt, construct the word phonetically (as you here it).

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