Does anyone know who wrote the shorthand in the Centennial books?  Generally speaking, it’s pretty well done, although the lines are not as crisp and defined as in earlier Gregg publications.  In the two books I have, Charles Zoubek is the only author, and no credit is given for the shorthand. 
As a DJS writer, it’s interesting that both Series 90 and Centennial seem essentially identical–when I read that shorthand the differences are infrequent and scarcely noticeable.  It makes me wonder why Gregg even bothered with those two “revisions.” 

(by alex for everyone)


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  1. Jerome Edelman wrote the shorthand.    I have also found his shorthand to be not quite as good as Charles Rader's.  In the Centennial book I just got it looks like they wrote the shorthand with a magic marker.  The outlines seem thick and heavy.    I like that they restored some brief forms.  Although, some of the outline changes for the brief forms are very a bit ood for me.  The state abbreviation seems to make little sense to me.  I do think Centennial is an improvement over Series 90.  I'm just afraid that there are too few folks interested in learning this skill. 

  2. In 1970 there were several friends who asked me to teach them shorthand so I ordered the Manual for them plus a copy for myself. This was my first exposure to DJS. I disliked the outline modifications and the "simplification" but, biting my tongue cheerfully took my group through the manual.

    I feel strongly that McGraw-Hill executives made a serious mistake in permitting subsequent simplifications of the system. Of course the newer versions ultimately hastened the decline of shorthand in public interest. What is the point of learning a shorthand system if it does not enable you to write faster than normal cursive?

    It still seems odd to me that most people under the age of 40 have no concept of what shorthand is or what is was used for up until the '70's. However, I concur that today in 2008 there truly is little practical use for shorthand except for personal satisfaction in acquiring the skill. I still believe shorthand used properly could be invaluable to students in taking class notes as well as to reporters conducting interviews.

    It also seems strange that the publishers of Gregg Shorthand would have contracted personnel to write the shorthand for their newer editions in a less immaculate fashion than we are used to from the DJS editions and before.

    I've never seen a Series 90 or Centennial books and, truthfully, have no desire to extend my personal shorthand library beyond Simplified. Shorthand written with a magic marker? Humph! exclaims the old fuddy-dud.

    It is most refreshing to note the interest in WRITING shorthand that this group seems to generate. Perhaps out of curiosity I will purchase a Century 100 book, just to admire what can be accomplished with a magic marker. (Smile and exit stage left.)

  3. I have some of the Series 90 books for which Mr. Edelman wrote the shorthand, and it is very nice. The shorthand in the Centennial books doesn't look like his early writing. I believe that a lot has to do with the awful magic marker! Nevertheless, I like the lessons and general outline of the Centennial books, and besides, they are full of color!

    The state abbreviations in Centennial follow the modern USPS abbreviations.

  4. I agree . . . the series 90 texts all present exceptional outlines that follow the long-established Gregg standard (largely unattainable for us mere mortals when we're actually writing, but definitely worth striving for.)  Charles Rader and Jerome Edelman both wrote excellent shorthand for those books.   I wonder if the Centennial books were written more "crudely" in an attempt to make the writing look more like what someone who's learning shorthand actually produces.  Or it could have been an actual decline in skill on Mr. Edelman's part–anyone know how old he was when the material was written?   I also like the layout and the color of the Centennial books, but the material itself is dry and uninteresting, even more so I think than what appeared in DJS.    Alex

  5. Wow.  Where do I start?   Jerry did NOT write the plates for Centennial.  My understand from Jerry was that outlines were photocopied from previous texts and then pasted together; hence, the awful "magic marker" look.  He also pointed out that the thickness and size of the outlines isn't consistent even on the same page.  Guess they didn't get the zoom feature of the copy machine just right.   Jerry put together the theory for Centennial, blending what worked and what didn't from previous editions of Gregg.  As an example of what didn't work, forcing DJ students to write the O separately (as opposed to attaching it to the R) in a word like "door."  Jerry presented the idea to the head of the division and either quit or was fired.  But they used his concepts anyway and, I belive, never paid him appropriately.   I can honestly say that my dealings with the head of the division never went well, either.  I was usually dismissed as "that Anniversary writer" (normally said with a sneer) "who knows nothing about the students of today."  Maybe, but unlike the rest of those folks, I had worked in a number of office and knew what happened in a typical office setting!   I feel that the simplifications of S90 went too far and, as such, helped kill off shorthand; it was too slow to write.  I disagree wholeheartedly that shorthand is obsolete in today's office environment.  That table I recently posted regarding live dictation to a person versus dictation to a machine shows many of the problems on both sides.  My own current boss, I am convinced, could benefit by having her administrative assistant be able to take dictation rather than draft everything out on the computer or in long hand.  That same administrative assistant could also take better minutes at meetings (and we seem to have tons of meetings lately!), take better phone messages, and generally be a more-productive person of greater value to the organization if she could write shorthand.   I'll get off the soap box now. . . .  😉   Marc  

  6. But "door" in Centennial is written just the same as in DJS and S90 . . . d-o-r, at least according to the "Gregg Shorthand Dictionary, Abridged Version, Centennial Edition" (Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 1990)  . . . for which, by the way, Charles Zoubek is listed as author.   Alex

  7. Being unwilling to change certain habits, I believe "door" should be written D-(-R with the hook tucked between the D and the R not delineated. Same with "color": K-U-L-R with the hook sideways between the K and L.

    If anyone were creating a new shorthand manual today, I would recommend using Adobe Illustrator, the brush tool, and one of the writing tablets which enable you to combine and functionality of drawing and mousing. With a little bit of practice, you can write really clear shorthand notes.

  8. I worked with Mary Buchanan, a very capable person, but not a plate writer.  Her hands appear in many of the introductory texts where she's "pointing" at an outline or "writing" one on a steno pad.  (Those are Jerry's notes, not hers!)   If door is d-o-r in Centennial, then they didn't take all of Jerry's suggestions.   Marc  

  9. Thanks Mark. Now that you mentioned it, I examined the Centennial book more closely, and I can notice that the outlines for words that are repeated in the reading practice are the same everytime. So, indeed, they photocopied the words and pasted them together. Nowadays, Photoshop could've been used for doing the same and the result would've been 100 times better.

  10. Right, Jerome Edelman is a pretty good writer who was trained by Leslie to write shorthand almost perfectly. The person who pasted together the shorthand words in Centennial was Mary Buchanan, if I remember correctly from my conversation with Jerome a few weeks ago. So I guess she gets the credit. Bless her heart, she must have spent many boring hours doing that.

    —Andrew Owen

  11. If you think that the Centennial plates look bad, you haven't seen the Centennial plates in the Spanish version of the book. Those really look awful, and they were not pasted from existing texts: a person wrote them. It is interesting that the Series 90 and Centennial series in Spanish are exactly the same, but if you compare the books, the Series 90 books were written by Mr. Edelman, and the writing is very pretty and artistic.

  12. I think the main changes for Centennial were the following:   1)  The addition of these brief forms:  anniversary, appropriate, between, circumstance, communicate, convenient/convenience, direct, during, electric, equip, equivalent, include, incorporate, insure/insurance, memorandum, office, privilege, product, program, property, recommend, reluctant/reluctance, significant/significance, statistic.  (In most cases, these were re-introduction of older brief forms that had been dropped).   2)  circum-, di-, electric-, and -gram are not taught in Centennial.   3)  the principle de- is not introduced separately, but falls under "minor vowel omitted".   4)  -graph is omitted.    That's all that's identified in the Instructor's Edition of "Gregg Shorthand:  College Book 1" of Centennial.    Alex

  13. Well, I guess no one can accuse them of being consistent . . . that's strange to emphasize the omission of electr- in one place, then include it in the dictionary.   Probably at that point no one had a good grasp of the entire Centennial theory, such as it was.  One of the amazing things about earlier revisions in the system is how the plate writers were able to fluently incorporate the changes.  Clearly nothing like that happened in McGraw-Hill's last attempt.   Alex

  14. Thank you for your confirmation of my opinion of McGraw-Hill's treatment of Gregg from 1963 on … slowly the attention they paid to what they actually were publishing deteriorated and by the time of Centennial I'm sure they meant to bury the system … cut and paste? Snarl!

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