Question on Alphabetic Systems

I am wondering which is the best of the alphabetic systems in existence?

Speedwriting seems to have earned the largest market share in its time. Zinman’s Rapid Writing apparently had a following. I just found a paperback called Shortrite by Rae C. Greenburg that looks interesting. (Forkner has that add-vowels-after-consonants thing—shades of Pitman?)

When I was in high school, hoping to find some way of fulfilling my childhood dream of becoming a shorthand writer, I went through a book called Alphabet Shorthand by one A. Gerstenzang. It was utterly useless.

But there must be a half-way decent method out there. Anyone have suggestions on this?

(by Joel for
group greggshorthand)


9 comments Add yours
  1. I used to be really curious about alphabetic systems and explored many, many of them. I ultimately decided I liked Forkner best because it seemed the most consistent system and was pretty easy to learn.

  2. I think I tried easyscript when I was in elementary/middle school. I thought it was cool because you could use the accompanying software to write in it on the computer and have it expand it for you. But then again, that's kiddie stuff compared to a full-blown shorthand system because it doesn't take advantage of one of the biggest places traditional orthography falters, the complexity of the characters and the medium with which it is written — the pen. The pen is a lot better at writing long curly loops, hooks, and dashes than it is writing tiny circles, perpendicular lines, non-joined characters, etc.

  3. they do? I thought easyscript was purely alphabetic:
    Gregg is wayy better in my opinion. Plus they argue that "most existing shorthand systems require the learning of thousands of random abbreviations." It doesn't say anything about the phonetic features of Gregg. They just shoot anything down that's a "scribbly" shorthand system vs. their alphabetic one which they say is "based on a few simple rules." It's all completely wrong. They may fool you into believing that you're making progress faster but not only is Gregg is cheaper to learn, you can blow anyone who uses an alphabetic script out of the water with more practice. Just like how I can obliterate anyone handwriting OR typing on their computer keyboard with my steno machine :).

  4. I've investigated a bunch of alpha systems so I could [eventually] teach one of them. (Yes, I'd prefer to teach Gregg but it takes too darned long for a Continuing Ed class.) After my research, I decided to go with AlphaHand by Steve Rosen. Just yesterday, I met with a friend who had heard nothing but good things about the system from those who taught alpha systems.

  5. I taught myself Forkner, but the book didn't have speed goals so I just copied passages slowly and never built any speed. I haven't heard of it going past 140wpm. Forkner has many abbreviations and brief forms, but not as many — meaning less chance to really crank up the speed. The books I had don't mention creating your own abbreviations.

    About 1/3 of the vowels are written directly into the word: long-e, ow, oi. I was worried about leaving out the other vowels but found it not to be a problem. Just like in Pitman, they recommend you add them in later if you are worried or if it's an unusual word.

    I still have more confidence my ability to read Forkner back, especially out of context, but I'm gaining confidence in Gregg. Forkner strokes survive sloppy penmanship better.

    Teeline was an attempt at a compromise. The letters are loosely based on printed and cursive letters, but sometimes it's pretty obscure. It's not as standardized and you're encouraged to create short forms for yourself. A Teeline teacher I corresponded with was shocked that Gregg students are expected to read passages written by others. As a result, it has a reputation for being only useful in the short-term — before you forget what the short forms mean, especially if you're still refining your vocabulary. It was created by a Pitman teacher and much of it is "Other systems (read: Pitman) do this, which students find hard, so we don't worry about it." I found that frustrating — throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It's based on English spelling rather than strict phonetics. It has both C and K. Use the vowel from English, not the sound.

    In the UK, you need to take shorthand at 100wpm to be a journalist. They teach Teeline for that, but I think they accept other systems for the test. 140wpm is considered the very top for the system. There are many current Teeline books which include modern vocabulary.

  6. flamenco108 was correct that the web site has several references to combining Easyscript with Gregg, including some testimonials. I think of an alphabetic system as, at best, supplemental to Gregg. It may have some usefulness in hammering out some esoteric words—I thought about it as an alternate way of expressing some of the more difficult proper names.

  7. I don't think alphabetic systems are any better for proper names or esoteric words than Gregg is.

    Proper names usually require proper spelling. The alphabetic systems don't use proper spelling; the ones I looked at use some English letters to mean entire syllables. You'd still need to get the proper spelling in longhand once.

    Alphabetic systems are nice for new writers encountering new words. Most Gregg letters have special joining rules. The direction of loops, the orientation of hooks, whether you can turn an angle into a blend, which TH, whether you should leave out or put in a minor vowel. It can take a few tries to get it smooth. Yes, there are rules and it becomes second nature, but not for a while.

    In Forkner, like longhand, most of the letters begin and end with the same strokes — tracing the baseline for an instant. Do one letter at a time, with no need to look ahead. Teeline is in the middle. Some letters can be written multiple ways and sometimes you end up over-writing previous letters if you don't adapt the proportions.

    Rather than having three scripts in one sitting (Gregg for the bulk, alphabetic for the names and longhand for the proper spelling), I'd use something "good enough" (such as the initials in either Gregg or longhand) and mark it (circle or underline) to deal with ASAP after the interview, before I forget what it means. You can do the same with other esoteric words, just be sure to note differences. (The _science_ reporter in Ottawa in the 80s didn't know there was a difference between silicon and silicone, or CO and CO2.)

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