Omission of vowels

I understand the principle that  vowels which are scarcely pronounced or are pronounced as schwas may be omitted from shorthand outlines; but I find that in some dictionary outlines such unimportant vowels are included, whereas in other dictionary outlines phonetically important vowels are omitted.
In Anniversary, for example, the E in the word “camera,” seldom pronounced at all, is written, but in the word “patron” the A, the principal vowel in an accented syllable, is omitted.
Inclusion of the E does not make “camera” easier to write, nor does omission of the A make “patron” easier to write. 

(by Bruce
E.
for group greggshorthand) 

6 comments Add yours
  1. I looked in the Diamond Jubilee Series book to see if there was a rule or explanation for when vowels were omitted. They don't say much, but I would think that some vowels are omitted if the outline is easy to decipher without it; and some vowels are retained if it helps us to decipher the outline.

    I do notice that in the word courteous, the E is omitted, even though we pronounce it; and the word genuine omits the I. They just say that the minor vowel may be omitted.

  2. Although the "a" in "patron" is omitted, it has nothing to do with the sound or that it is easy to write. The reason is that the prefix patr-, which used to be written as a disjoined p-a in pre-anniversary, was replaced by ptr- in anniversary. The elimination of disjoined pa- in favor of ptr- was done for reduce the memory burden.

    About "camera", I pronounce the e. But I see your point. Some of these words are to be memorized, to be honest.

  3. At what point does shorthand cease to be a system or phonography and become a system of arbitrary signs? I have been studying Anniversary because I like its plethora of brief forms, special forms, and analogical word beginnings and endings. I see no reason, however, why writers, who can indeed gain much from mastering these and using them correctly, ought to worry about otherwise conforming to a shorthand dictionary. Why should they bother to remember that the dictionary outline for "camera" includes the E? What will they lose by writing the A in "patron"? Gregg or Leslie said that any outline was correct if it could be transcribed correctly. I recently read part of a dissertation that was posted here, in which the writer said that making students write "correct" outlines improved their shorthand speed. At least in the part of the dissertation that I read, he did not distinguish ensuring that students used brief forms, special forms, and analogical word beginning and endings to maximum advantage from ensuring that their outlines for all words conformed to the outlines in the dictionary. I think the distinction is important.

    You also recently posted an issue of a shorthand journal containing an early assessment of the Gregg system. The writer of another article appearing in the same issue stated that she hated shorthand dictionaries. She said that systems of phonography are supposed to be phonetic and, therefore, are supposed to enable writers to reproduce phonetically whatever sounds they hear. Except where shortcuts built into a system are concerned, I think she was right.

    By the way, I fail to see how replacing disjoined PA with joined PTR for "patr-" reduced the memory load. One is as arbitrary as the other, and disjoined PA is easier to write.

  4. Someone from Ohio once told me that to his ear the vowel sounds in the first syllables of "merry," "marry," and "Mary" were identical, whereas to me they were easily distinguishable. I hear:

    merry = short e (as in "bet"),
    marry = short a (as in "cat"),
    Mary = a diphthong that approximates eh-i (as in "bare"–not quite the eh-ee sound in "may").

    I would without any thought whatever write "Mary" and "fairy" with the large circle and "ferry" with the small circle. But that's no reason why people from Ohio shouldn't write all three with the large circle.

  5. Although shorthand is for the most part phonetic, some conventions may seem completely arbitrary. Gregg pointed out in the preface of the dictionary that "nothing is arbitrary", and that there is a reason for writing words a certain way. Patr-, Petr-, Letr-, Altr-, Ultr- and other prefixes were all eliminated in Anniversary, much to my chagrin. The memory load argument, in my opinion, was not enough to justify their elimination (but there is a reason). Another example: why do "buy" and "by" have different signs? Why aren't "Mary", "fairy", and "ferry" written with the same circle vowel, given the closeness of the sounds? Why are "stationary" and "visionary" written with different sings for the same ending? Why are "reporter" and "importer" written differently? Same with "delegate" and "irrigate"? I could tell you the reasons for all of these, but again, it doesn't matter, because they will seem arbitrary anyway. As you proceed deeper in studying either Pre-anniversary or Anniversary Gregg, you will notice that in spite of rules, the systems are very inconsistent and can give the impression of being highly arbitrary in the construction of words: much of these new words would need to be memorized to be written according to theory. The best remedy is to read a lot of shorthand to be acquainted with these words, or at the time of dictation to come up with an analogical way of writing. Simplified regularized some of these inconsistencies, but the added "feature" of spelling everything out causes a second set of problems.

    The dictionary is a guide. As such, it is there for consultation. During dictation, one doesn't care about the dictionary as long as one can transcribe it correctly. You're welcome to use any expedients you want (I do that all the time). You don't need to worry about the dictionary when writing, but if you want to write according to theory, you need to consult the dictionary.

  6. I suspect the teacher who had success by insisting on dictionary forms achieved it because the students had clear guidance.

    If I'm told "this way is it", I'll knuckle down and learn it. If I'm told to do it whichever way works best, I'll play around with several ways and maybe, eventually, decide on one, but if it doesn't work one day I'll try a different one.

Leave a Reply