NewWrite cursive notetaking available online

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“Newrite uses simple signs, but it is not a shorthand or speedwriting system. In these systems, speed is gained at the sacrifice of information. Words are abbreviated and many important vowel sounds are removed. Newrite, on the other hand, captures every sound more precisely than today’s writing, yet is still much faster to write.  As short as the Newrite words are, each is as complete precise as its roman counterpart.”

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  1. In the preface to his book the author refers to a precedent German system. Which system do you think that might be?

    I wouldn't think Gabelsburger, but I only know that system superficially. I guess Heinrich Roller. There's a little jpeg here:

    I can't read German, but I know that this system is the basis for August Mengelkamp's English "Natural Shorthand", which was the first thing I thought of when I looked at Newrite:

    The systems are linear, and use extension above and below four lines to distinguish characters. Henry Sweet's "Current" uses those same devices, and I really like both systems.

    Two things I find interesting:

    1) How just about every system published in the two decades bracing the turn of that century had similar ideas: all cursive, all more linear than previous systems, all including vowels, many for "general use". I've read about a "Shorthand Society" active in Britain at that time, working out such theories. Could be just fashion, but I imagine those design ideals were really inevitable development. Guess we'll never get to see the pendulum swing against them!

    2) How economics and business skill determine what system wins out. IMHO, Gregg suffers from some problems that these systems answer. But they'll never get the road tests they deserve since our own great teacher got the monopoly.

  2. All interesting thoughts about the history. I'd never considered the increased exchange with the Continent, but you're right; that's bound to have been an important effect.

    I like the essay on IAL; a nice summary of the conditions of historical success for any design. Very much what I had in mind.

  3. 1) It tends to sprawl.
    2) Despite Mr. Gregg's assertions about his geometry's naturalness, many of the letter shapes are delicate and subtle, requiring expert penmanship.
    3) Joinings between letters are temperamental and constitute a substantial area of study all to themselves.

    "1)" is a disadvantage in a few ways: moving away from the line of writing takes precious time. Because "line of writing" is arbitrary in Gregg, good scale becomes trickier the longer an outline gets. For general use, it's a waste of space. This can be helped a little with abbreviation, as a quick comparison of 1916 to Simplified plates will show; but of course that comes at extra cost.

    As to "2)", the ellipse *is* naturally facile in some sense—my a's, b's and p's in conventional handwriting look more elliptical than circular, and at any rate I know I can't write a perfect circle. But writing sizes of elipse as large as Gregg requires, and distinctly enough and accurately enough to be integrated with each other is another thing altogether. In any case, I think Gregg's argument for the ellipse might be making a straw man of other systems, which don't really require perfect circles anyway.

    It doesn't help that Gregg uses large ellipses for the more common Bs and Ps and simple straight lines for the less frequent Js and Ch-s.

    Regarding "3)", I remember a very old post describing Gregg as more of a syllabary than an alphabet. The forms of the ellipses change dramatically depending on which letter they are combined with. As a result, study requires that not just every letter be memorized, but every pair of letters. There are even a number of cases where combinations of three or more characters must be all specially composed to fit together legibly.

    There are lots of interesting alternatives that avoid these problems. As to sprawling, The Roller/Menglekamp system mentioned above uses downstrokes for consonants and upstrokes for vowels, and because the two usually alternate more or less evenly, the outlines stay on the line of writing. Current uses vertical downstrokes for consonants, and mid-position horizontal characters for vowels; that eliminates pen wandering altogether while making the whole alphabet virtually imperturbable to combinations (to the extent that it can even be typeset).

    The delicacy and the temperamental joinings are tightly linked problems which most systems seem to avoid with a variety of geometry and position or shading. (The two systems above stand out to me because they don't use position or shading.)

  4. Gregg is clearly a system which is 'fit for purpose'.  However, no system is perfect (whatever that may be).  So only in the interests of honest analysis, not Gregg bashing, to add a couple:   4.  Some of the selections for the alphabet are fairly poor. For example, S often joins badly, especially in the middle of a word, and when forming ST SK SP & SL, where you either have to stop, or insert a little 'jog'.  The very frequent TR (& STR) are not so quick to write as the much less frequent FR KR & PR.   5.  Using a four vowel system makes it harder to adapt to other languages, where E & I have completely distinct sounds.  It's also quite counter-intuive.   & to add to point 3, it's got to be said that many of the questions on this board are about joinings, and about when and where to omit vowels.   I hope this thread doesn't degenerate!

  5. Routine and Ian:

    Thanks a bunch. Your two posts make absorbing reading.

    I confess that I would have never guessed most of the drawbacks. I have noticed, however, frequent posts on this forum about both joinings and vowel omitting. Another trend is trascription–there seems quite a bit of confusion over the transcription of written Gregg.

    Thanks again for your input. The technical nature of your posts makes it interesting enough for multiple readings, because the science of the art is addressed.

  6. > Another trend is transcription–there seems quite a bit of confusion over the transcription of written Gregg.

    Now *that's* an interesting problem. Particularly since most of us use shorthand for personal notes.

    My sense has always been that most of that confusion is lack of confidence on system principles:

    Q: "…It seems to say 'utterer', but that doesn't make sense; what else could 'u-t-e-r-r' mean?"
    A: "'Ulterior'; 'u' for 'ul-' beginning, 'r' for '-ure' endings."

    I don't often see questions about whether a gesture represents an "L" or an "R", a "sh" or an "s", for example. It's just that sometimes obscure principles surprise, or an outline's context needs more attention.

    Has your experience been different with Pitman? Maybe Gregg involves more ambiguities in it's devices, or has some qualities that make deciphering particularly difficult?

    Most interesting to me, *decipherability* is a different thing than *legibility*. Every system is decipherable, but not necessarily easy to read. What might make Gregg a more or less legible system? What might make *any* system more or less legible? Variety and distinctness of parts? Linearity?

  7. I don't know if Newrite was based directly on Unesteno.  It may just be that the signs selected for P, T, K and M are 'classic' symbols for these sounds, used in many of the most well-known script systems.  But clearly the author of Newrite had an international outlook, having moved from Germany to England, so it's quite likely that he was involved in the artificial language movement, and was therefore familiar with the systems you raised.   (It seems there's quite a correlation between shorthand enthusiasts and international language enthusiasts – mi parolas esperanton anka첬, sed nebone! – and Angelfishy Andrew's another esperantist who hangs around here.)   But it's interesting to note (at least to me!) that, although script systems seem novel if you've not come across them before, they are just as conservative in their construction as geometric systems.  In fact, script systems are often classified into 'schools', so you have the 'Gabelsberger School', the 'Stolze-Schrey School, the 'Arends/Roller School', the 'Lehmann (or Stenotachygraphy) School' and so on, where systems are categorised according to how they indicate vowels and what consonant signs are selected.  The German Unified Shorthand (DEK) was an effort to select the best of all these schools and put them in one system.  In the end, they selected the Gabelsberger consonants and put it together with the Stolze-Schrey vowel indication – producing a method that in many people's estimation is worse than either of the parent systems.

  8. With just a superficial glance, this looks similar to a shorthand system that was published in Esperanto called "Unesteno:  Universala Esperanta Stenografio".  The book was published in 1965 in Zurich.  The symbols for t, k, p and m presented in the first lesson are identical . . . coincidence?  Doubtful.    The authors of the Esperanto system are Johannes Jakob Sturzenegger and Heinrich Matzinger, so there's supposedly a strong German influence there, hmm?  Their system also uses shading.    The book presents two different variants of the system, one for "correspondence" and one for "rapid writing".    I'm fluent in Esperanto and relatively savvy about shorthand, and have to confess that the Unesteno book remains a mystery to me.  The sections are printed on different colored paper, with tiny print and tiny plates, and the method of presenting the system is obtuse.    (If anyone is interested, in addition to Unesteno and the Esperanto adaptation of Gregg, there have been other Esperanto shorthand systems.  One, named "Sonosteno" is by a man named Joseph Gamble from the U.S.  It's also undecipherable for me . . . and the book mixes shorthand with hindu philosophy (there's a dedication to Paramahansa Jogananda, "my guru") as well as teaching how to write peacefully and tranquilly.  And I have a little booklet that was published in Milwaukee in 1933 called "Internacia Steno-Pazigrafio", "the second writing for all, pazigrafio for all languages for general and professional use, fundamental of 'ispografio'".  And would you believe it–the symbols for b, p, m and k are the same as in the Newrite system!)   Alex

  9. With respect, I think you're mistaken about symbols in shorthand being completely arbitrary.  Almost always, systems are based on ones that came before.  For example, in geometric shorthand, T N M R and S are common to many many systems that were inspired by Taylor's & Pitman's shorthands.  Gregg, Malone, Churchill, Mosher, etc, also form a family which bear striking similarities in their symbol allocations.   Amongst cursive systems the Stolze/Stolze-Schrey system (using the P, T, K & M you quote) holds a place very similar to Pitman in being the most widely used (together with Gabelsberger), and inspiring a host of systems which allocate symbols very similarly.  I'm not familiar with Steno-Pazigrafio, but my guess would be that Newrite was inspired by the DEK & Stolze-Schrey systems – which, being the two most used in German speaking countries does make sense.  They also share the same method of indicating vowel signs (though distributed differently), which explains their similar appearance.   There is a limited stock of signs in cursive systems, as well as in geometric systems.  It's not surprising that over the years experimentation and convention has lead to certain symbols being preferred for certain sounds.

  10. <>

    Routine, this isn't an easy question to answer, but I'll try.

    A lot of Gregg writers I've spoken with have said that "you're encouraged to develop your own style"; your own set of abbreviations, etc. This introduces an element of ambiguity in the text; what other writer would be able to read the text?

    By contrast, Pitman is an inflexible system, really; you have to stick to the rules. Each and every rule has a reason. For example, the words "pens" and "pence" are written differently, and these, in turn, are written in a different position than "pans". This enables the writer to dispense with almost all vowels; one textbook says that "only one vowel per 500 words needs to be inserted", but I look askance at that claim.

    These inflexible rules are set up so that there will be no ambiguity when transcribing. But, by their very existence, they make Pitman a whole lot harder to learn than Gregg. (One article I read chronicled the fact that "otherwise intelligent women broke out in tears at the complexity of Pitman") Execution in writing is awkward, at first, because your pen is going every which-a-way. Pitman has the same tactile feel as printing, which probably was one reason Gregg became so popular in the cursive handwriting days. (Since cursive is falling by the wayside, I'm beginning to think new writers might find Pitman easier to execute.) Moreover, Pitman has a horrendous memory load.

    Pitman students with whom I've corresponded have said interesting things about learning Gregg. One told me,"Well, Gregg is awfully long-winded, and seems arbitrary at times." Another said,"It seems like one vowel is used for several different vowel sounds." I can tell you, this isn't true in Pitman!

    On the other hand, what Gregg students want to put up with the zillion rules of Pitman; the awkward execution; the sometimes exceedingly hard-to-grasp word concepts; the memory load?

    I've noticed that cross-"platform" students don't do too well–the disadvantages of the other system become glaringly apparent.

    I hope this has helped.

  11. I don't think NewWrite was based directly on Unesteno, but I do think there's a common system underlying both of them (as well as the 1933 Internacia Steno-Pazigrafio).  I don't think the shared symbols can be the same by accident (and I don't think it's a matter of them being "classic"–symbols in shorthand are arbitrary).  It's not just the individual symbols, either–the appearance of connected matter on the page is essentially identical.    Neither of my Esperanto texts acknowledge another system as the source, nor does NewWrite.  So the interesting challenge would be to find the system that existed prior to 1933 that was "borrowed" to create these newer systems.   Alex 

  12. Back on topic (mea culpa!), here's a page of the lectures which were given at the latest Intersteno convention.  At the bottom of the page, you will see a link to a presentation on Newrite, both the MP3 file and the lecture transcript:   I still don't think that there is anything remarkable about the Newrite system that raises it above the many other systems for English – there are better cursive ones than this one too.  However, the bit about being able to type Newrite is interesting.  

  13. During the lecture, the creator of Newrite stated the system he learned during high school was Stolze-Schrey. So, it's not based on DEK or Roller as previously postulated. If you compare the alphabets involved, the similarity is obvious.

    I'm planning on finding a way to simplify this system for my own use. The use of shading to represent the exact vowel sound may not really be necessary, so coalescing and rearranging the vowels would simplify things. For example, in California where I live, we say the same vowel sound in the words "cot," "caught," and "card". While other English dialects may need to make the distinction, it's not critical for me.

    Also, in Newrite there are just too many arbitrary consonant blends — Stolze-Schrey certainly didn't have so many. (Is it really necessary to have separate symbols for "LF," or "DW" or "GN"?) There should be a way of organizing the letters to avoid having so many special cases.

  14. Cor!  Are there really 66?!  (quicky jots some down … I believe you!  Maybe Teeline isn't that simple after all…)  I don't remember having any difficulty learning the blends, it was just the way letters were joined.  But then, that was a long time ago.  It may be like childbirth – you forget the pain eventually!    I'm not familiar with the Level 1/2 distinction.  Can you clarify?  What textbook are you using?   Cheers, Ian

  15. The blends in Newrite are not like Teeline, although I must admit only a very cursory knowledge of Teeline.

    In Teeline, the blends describe how you write two successive consonants regardless of whether there is an intervening vowel or not. For example, Teeline has a blend for PB.

    In Newrite, all the blends represent consecutive sounds in the word, and there must not be any intervening vowel sound. So, the blend LV can be used in the words "solve" and "salvage" but not in "live" or "love". The blend KN can be used "acknowledge" or "technique" but not for the prefix "con-" (which is written differently).

    This is a consequence of the design of the shorthand. In Newrite, vowels are indicated by how one joins one consonant to another. There isn't a possibility of ambiguity between "leave" and "live" and "love" because the way one joins the V to the L implicitly indicates the quality of the vowel.

    However, this comes at a cost, in that there is no way in Newrite to write two successive consonants without indicating some intervening vowel. This, in cases where there is no intervening vowel, such as in "solve," one needs a special blend.

    Note that Newrite has special rules for constants such as R and S that aggressively blend to other constants, in order to keep the number of blends somewhat reasonable.

    But that even makes learning some of the Newrite blends harder, for the number of words with consecutive "LV" or "KN" sounds is relatively small, and thus you end up some blends that are so infrequently used that one will likely forget them.

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