to blend or not to blend?

I’m finding it difficult to find the rationale for when or when not to use a blend, especially in (Pre-) Anniversary. For example, the word ‘den’ is not a blend but ‘dense’ is. On the other hand, ‘dense’ is written with the blend, but ‘dance’ is written in full. Also, consider “remain” and “manger”. (In both cases there is the accented syllable “mane”, but they are written differently). I’m so confused! And so on..By the way, it looks like there was a change in how to write words like mania and maniac from pre- to anniversary, not sure why. Some of you might say that “dance” is written out so as not to be confused with “dense,” and “damp” written out so as not to be confused with “dump”….Oh wait. I forgot, dump is written without the blend, too. I’m so confused!! I know many of you are highly successful with Gregg, but I get so discouraged when I can’t figure out why words are written the way they are and there is nothing in the manual that explains it.

(by thousandwaves for


2 comments Add yours
  1. I think much of it has to do with the vocalization of the vowels.  "Dance" has a vowel that is somewhat stressed, "dense" the vowel is not so stressed.  The same thing for "damp" and "dump".  "Dump" is written according to the omission of an unaccented "u".  In Anniversary and pre-Anniversary, "remain" in considered a brief form.  Brief forms tend to be a bit more arbitrary in how they are constructed.    The blends can sometimes cause confusion.  For example, the word "tent" is it "ten-t" or "t-e-nt?"  The "correct" way to write it is "ten-t" but if it were written "t-e-nt" you would still be able to read it.  There's a story in the "History of Gregg Shorthand" where Dr. Gregg wrote a word and Mr. Leslie chided Dr. Gregg because it was not written according to the theory.  Dr. Gregg's response was:  "You can read it can't you?"  The proof in the pudding is that you can read what you write.  It is the accuracy of your transcript that counts, not how you write the words.  The more experience you have with the theory, the clearer it will become.  Eventually, it all shakes into place.  🙂

  2. AnniFan is right. A lot has to do with how vowels are vocalized, but also there are general rules. The blends indeed can be confusing. Here are some guiding principles as to when to blend or not:

    1. Blends are for the most part used when the middle vowel is unstressed.

    2. For the mn blend, paragraph 27 of the Anniv manual advises to use it for the men, mem, and other similar sounds such as min, mim, mum, or mun. In this case, the 'i' is a short i.

    3. For the ten-den blend, paragraph 155 says not to use it in strongly accented vowels or in diphthongs, with the exception of the syllable -tain, which is expressed as -tn.

    So back to your examples:

    1. dance and damp are strongly accented, no blend
    2. den is an exception — is not written with the blend, perhaps so as not to confuse it with "ten"
    3. remain and manger are written with the mn blend in Anniversary, but remain is a brief form
    4. dum- is not blended, and is written according to paragraph 124 (omission of short u)

    As a general advice, the best way of knowing this principle (and any other shorthand principle) is to practice the material that is in the books first. Follow the words and examples from the manual, the 5000 word book and the Gregg Speed Studies. Do not attempt to learn new words until you have the basic rules and words down pat. Once these have been mastered and written without hesitation, then you can go ahead and learn new words from the dictionary. This will minimize the confusion factor and frustrations.

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