Seeking help regarding development of new shorthand system

I am hoping that some of you out there may be able to help me regarding the development of a new shorthand system.  A group of Hong Kong business men have come up with the idea of trying to develop a new system of shorthand that can be done in Mandarin Chinese.
They are proposing to bring together a team of people with specialist knowledge in shorthand together with Mandarin language experts.
Before we embark on  this project, I have been tasked with trying to obtain feedback as to the feasibilty of this project and also to locate possible candidates who may have the skills required to assist in the development.
I would be very grateful to hear from anyone who has any ideas regarding this proposal, which you feel may be of use to me.   Alternatively if you know of anyone who may be able to help us please let me know.  My knowledge of shorthand is very limited, so please try not to be too technical.
Many thanks
Col Sim

(by col_hk for everyone)

4 comments Add yours
  1. Sounds like a cool idea!

    I know there are at least one or two Japanese shorthands. I don't know how similar the languages are, but it might be a place to start. Also, with China's long history of bureaucracy (if the novels can be believed), I'd be surprised if someone hasn't already invented something. Again, it may not be suitable for modern use, but may give good ideas.

    "Basic Principles of Gregg" on
    gives a great overview of how he analyzed the English language and the various shapes. Take the anti-Pitman bit with a grain of salt — they were competitors. Still, it covers the way Pitman handled similar challenges, and how simplifying part of the system made other parts of the system more complicated.
    has samples of several types, and explains some of the similarities and differences.

    The book "The Story of Gregg Shorthand" starts with a history of shorthand, including a symbolic system taken to an extreme.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what others here have to say. It sounds like a great project!

  2. This is an interesting question. My knowledge of Chinese is rather limited (I have tried to learn both Mandarin and Cantonese on various occasions, but only at a beginner level), but it seems to me that, given the large number of short words in Chinese, you'd need a system that differentiated between sounds as clearly as possible. The approach taken in Western shorthands, where something like "shrthnd" could stand for shorthand wouldn't work in a language where many words are one-syllable.

    You might take Gregg as a starting point, and then elevate or lower outlines with respect to the line (as they do in Pitman) in different ways to indicate tones. Given the large number of similar sounding words in Chinese, you would probably need to tweak Gregg's system of vowels so that the symbols used for each vowel sound are clear and unambiguous.

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