The Gripe Thread

I’m assuming that we all like writing Gregg, but once in a while we come up with something about the system, or about the book, or about the method of study, or about the materials that we don’t like. I created this thread to collect all of those thoughts. Please feel free to share your gripes about Gregg here, but be specific. For example, one thing that I find lacking in the system is that the introductory books don’t teach basic reporting shortcuts, such as outlines of simple questions like “what is your name and address?”, “where do you live?”, or common answers such as “yes, sir”, “I don’t know”, etc. I can name other things as well, such as specific outlines, or word terminations that I don’t like (the -ate endings in Anniversary are a pain, for example).

So, if you were to change something from Gregg Shorthand, whether from the instruction books, the system itself, or whatever, what would you change and why? What do you think is missing? The purpose of the thread is not to criticize your choice, nor to reply “you could do this or that instead”, but to serve as a sound board. I’m just curious. When you reply, please state the series your gripe refers to if appropriate.

Incidentally, if you think Gregg is perfect the way it is, say it so too.

25 comments Add yours
  1. Woohoo! A gripes thread! This could be very cathartic.

    As a former Simplified writer who has switched to Anniversary, I really don't like the "reverse r" rule in Anniversary. It adds a significant mental fork that seems to have little speed benefit. Dropping that, I think, was one of the rare improvements to the system as it evolved after Anniversary.

    In fact, since this is a gripe thread, I'll go on to say that R's are just generally messy in Gregg regardless of version. I can't think of another consonant that dropped, combined, slighted and slurred as much as the R (which is impressive since it is the third most common consonant in English after T and N.)

  2. I just learned the forms for "don't" and "do not", and it seems that they should be switched. "Don't" is one syllable, more commonly heard, and takes less time to say, and consequently there is less time to transcribe it. They should make the 'dn' outline mean "don't" instead of "do not". I know they mean the same thing, but sometimes in speech, one means more of an emphasis than the other.

    'dn' feels like a one-syllable outline, while 'd-o-n' for "don't" feels like a two syllable outline. Why not change it to 'd-u-n' for "do not?" After all, 'n' can mean 'not'. Plus, you have more time to write that syllable because the speaker is saying two syllables.

    I have a feeling that the contraction "don't" was more informal during transcription back in the day, and Gregg was thinking of a more commonly used outline in place of "do not". Now when I'm reading anyway, I say 'don't' to myself when I see pronoun followed by 'dn', even though, technically, it says "do not". Not really a gripe on my part, but definitely one thing that doesn't seem to fit the template of shortest outline for the amount of syllables transcribed.

  3. The only question that comes up for me now and then is the possibility of some outlines meaning more than one word, and which word isn't clear in transcription.

    It would appear that this rarely ever happens, though I see cases in the texts where, for instance, a long-vowel dash is used to distinguish owned from I-want.

    But what about a case like this: "It was difficult for the two groups to find common ground. While one was trying to still the waters, the other was trying to stir them." Stir and still are the same outline. Not a likely sentence I know, but some combination like this is at least possible.

    I assume that as we become more and more proficient, we come to automatically recognize these situations and know to make accommodations on the fly. But it's still a lingering question.

    The only "gripe" I have isn't about the system, it's about how difficult it is to acquire all of the needed texts! Thank God for this group, and for Andrew!

  4. It may be worth mentioning a gripe I started out with that has gradually gone away. When I was first plowing through the Anni Manual and arrived at Chapter 9, I got my first shock. As if it already wasn't complicated enough with all these rules and brief forms and stuff, suddenly I'm confronted with the Abbreviating Principle.

    As I was wending my way through the first couple pages, I remember thinking, "You've got to be kidding me!!!" At that point, I seriously wondered whether this was a lost cause. I had aspired to learn shorthand since I was in fifth grade! And now . . . the Abbreviating Principle.

    Gradually, I came to recognize that it wasn't all as arbitrary and capricious as it first appeared. And now I can read these "special forms" with no trouble and have come to appreciate this valuable principle.

  5. I should have noted again that I study Anniversary. (Both words in Anni are represented as s-t-left_e.) Sorry about that. The general problem to which I refer would probably not be an issue in later series.

    Stir is just using the reverse-r, whereas still is apparently built off the brief form for till-tell.

  6. For the words that are alike in outlines, you can add a "tick" mark under them to indicate sound. The Anniversary edition manual (not the FM) gives a few examples in the beginning of the manual and there are some examples in the Pre-Anniversary manual. You can use those if you think you might need them. I've never learned them personally, but some have.

    I also have a problem with the "r". I learned DJS first and then this confused me a lot.
    Also phrases. In Anniversary there are a lot of them and I forget and try to make it a word. Then I may realize it's a phrase or just skip it.

  7. I just saw the following today and thought of this thread… s-ai-l means 'silence', but not 'silent'. However, in most abbreviated forms, the outlines for the noun and the adjective look the same, and it's context that tells which one it is (like significant and significance, friend and friendly, etc.) I think if I hadn't seen the outline for 'silent' which ends with the 'nt' outline, I probably would have written it identical to 'silence'.

  8. I don't like that they teach related outlines in separate chapters. The e/s/p family is one of them.

    It's probably a good idea to concentrate on only one outline from the family in each chapter, to overlearn it, but if there's a family I like to know about it. Sometimes learning one outline at a time really well works, but once you start confusing them you need to see and drill the entire family.

  9. Yeah, I guess brief forms are even more brief than other outlines that are simply abbreviated. Brief forms are hyper-abbreviated. I do like the simplicity of using identical forms for different declensions (?) and just letting context sort it out, i.e., you can't confuse a noun w/ an adjective in a sentence. I did find two identical outlines in "probable-bility" and "presentable-ability". Those forms are identical and there declension is the same. Not as bad as "still" and "stir", though. What about "entitle" and "indict"? One's transitive, one's not. I think I'm going to enjoy learning more about this abbreviating principle!

  10. Another possibly dated brief form might be the Anni. s-p for special, speak, speech, in that special is now often used as a noun. (I assume it was most typically used in its adjectival sense in prior days.) But now, there's going to a speech on TV tonight. Or there's going to be a special on TV tonight. Which is it?  😉

  11. This isn't really a gripe, but I'd like a technical vocabulary for computer related things. I'm always writing email, website, programming, roll-out, application, blog, development, bug, documentation, schedule, etc. etc. (I'm a web site developer, could you tell?).

    Has anyone worked out a set of briefs for this already? There was talk of a Sesquicentennial Edition of GS. I'd love to see a vocabulary like this worked out. I'd actually be glad to work on it with someone, but I don't have a solid grasp of GS yet so I don't want to cause more confusion because I didn't know about an existing outline.


  12. yeah, special-speech-speak, etc. Speaking of computers and vocab, I remember reading a thread a while back (this does relate to one of my pet "gripes") where someone posted a GSH-English dictionary that someone had done in a .txt file where you could essentially decipher an outline by searching a string of SH characters. I know it wasn't complete but it seemed to have a heck of a lot of words in it. Is there a way to post a version of that doc on this site like Google docs where multiple users can edit one master file? I'm finding myself searching thru the standard Anni Dictionary a lot as I learn new words, phrases, etc. and I'm also searching for outlines I don't recognize that I lack a key for.

    I would be happy to help edit and add words/phrases to a database file like that so people could type in s-p, for example, and get all the possible readings for that combination, perhaps even in different versions of Gregg. I think it may even help to improve shorthand by working to eliminate outline ambiguity as English usage continues to evolve. Down the line, a savvy programmer could even analyze the database of outlines and look for trends of ambiguity.

    I know it's easier said than done, but I would gladly take part in that project as a beta tester! 🙂 I bet it would be valuable to students of shorthand as well as veterans who want to continue to improve their vocab.

  13. Chuck, I hadn't thought of being eaten alive by the Abbreviating Principle, but it did nearly stop me dead in my tracks.  😉

    Seriously though, I just wrapped up the evening study—Speed Studies (1929), Chapter 9, where the Principle is introduced, and it served as a reminder of what a major undertaking this really is. Learning shorthand is an exercise in delayed gratification, and a major commitment that is life-long.

    When I first confronted the Abbr. Principle, I settled on two points. (1) Millions of people have done this, and did so for decades. The track record speaks for itself. (2) The memory load is no worse than longhand, particularly English longhand, with all its irregularities and "exceptions." And I managed to learn longhand somehow.

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