Inconsistencies in Outlines!

I hope someone can explain to me why there are so many inconsistencies in the way like words are written. (I hope I am explaining my situation so it can be understood). For instance, take the work “picture,” P-K-T-R. Now take the word “pick,” which has the same beginning syllable as “picture,” but it is written “P-E-K,” which could also be “peek/peak/pique, or peck.” I know that context helps a lot, but I guess I am too stuck on conflict-free writing whenever possible. Also check out the words “pickle, picket, pickax, pictorial, etc.” I hope someone can explain this to me. I am most grateful for any help and any comments received.


I am also wondering why the word “bell” is written “B-E-L,” where th word “spell” is written “S-P-L,” which makes more sense to me since all one hears is the S-P-L.” How about “spiel, spill”? Why the difference? I know B-L is the brief form for “bill,” but . . .


(by James O. for everyone)

2 comments Add yours
  1. Sometimes the insertion of a vowel in a blend is to provide the conflict free writing you're looking for. Bill/build and bell are good examples. Sometimes, vowels are omitted if they are unaccented and their omission will make an easier outline. Picture as an outline is distinctive. If you use the reporting form for picture you'd write "p-t-r." You can also sometimes omit the vowel if it is unaccented and it's omission will make an easier to write outline. There are also times in Gregg where the application of one word building principle over another determines whether a vowel is inserted or not. "Context will give you the meaning" may sound like it's over-used, but it's a very powerful tool when one outlines represents several words.

    And as for "spiel" and "spill" I would insert the vowel. "Spiel" for the reason that the vowel is stressed, and "spill" because I want to indicate the soft "i". The "eh" sound is usually well represented by the blends "p-l" and "b-l" as the vowel is obscure. And as Mcbud says, marking vowels will help you distinguish one word from another, your gut will usually tell you when you should mark the vowel.

  2. In Gregg, there is no rule to writing pe- or pi- — it all depends on the word. You need to memorize it. Since the main purpose of knowing shorthand is to write down speech, context is the main way of recognizing words. Sometimes, conflict is unavoidable. That's where vowel markings can also help.

    For "bell", we add the "e" so that you don't get confused with the brief form "bill." In general, words that share a brief form usually belong to different parts of speech, so that you can recognize them in context. That's why sometimes you see differences in words that are very similar in pronunciation.

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