Hard Swallow

This editorial by Charles Zoubek appeared in the January 1947 issue of The Gregg News Letter. Part of it relates an amusing incident with Dr. Gregg and a seven-year old Gregg Shorthand writer.

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We have always contended that it is easy to learn Gregg Shorthand, easier, in fact, than it is to learn longhand. We were discussing this point some months ago with Doctor Gregg; and he related to us an incident that should convince the most doubting of Thomases of the truth of our opening statement.

It seems that in the early days of the Gregg Publishing Company when Doctor Gregg was author, shipping clerk, stenographer, and magazine editor, etc., of the Company, he waited on a customer who wanted a copy of the elementary Gregg text. The copy was wrapped, delivered, and duly paid for by the customer. Some months passed, and once again that customer came in, this time accompanied by a little boy about seven, and he ordered a copy of the advanced book. Doctor Gregg remembered him from his previous visit and out of curiosity asked him whether he had completed the first book. “Oh, yes,” he said, “and what’s more, my little boy has completed it and can write 60 words a minute in English and in German.”

Now Doctor Gregg was as skeptical of the veracity of that statement as you would be if we were to tell you that our remarkably fine daughter, aged one, said hexylresorcinol on the first try (actually, she did say da-da the other day, honest!).

Apparently the father noticed that Doctor Gregg was finding the statement a hard swallow. So he said, “I see you find this difficult to believe, but I will prove it to you.” Whereupon he turned to his son and said, “Emil, take off your gloves and site down at that table”; and he supplied him with pencil and paper. Then he turned to Doctor Gregg and told him to dictate anything, yes, anything, to the boy at 60 words a minute and the boy would take it. So Doctor Gregg reluctantly picked up a newspaper and, with one eye on his copy and the other on the boy, he started to dictate: “It is incomprehensible …” and, to his amazement, he saw that seven-year old boy write:

It was obvious that the boy had never heard the word incomprehensible before. But, at that tender age of seven, he had sufficiently mastered the alphabet of Gregg Shorthand to be able to write each sound as he heard it. And when his father dictated to him in German, he wrote that language in Gregg Shorthand just as readily. Imagine, writing 60 words a minute in English and in German at the age of seven!

Doctor Gregg figured that no one to whom he would relate that incident would give it credence — one would have to see it to believe it — so he had an affidavit made certifying to its authenticity. That affidavit today is part of Doctor Gregg’s most valued papers.

So, if a seven-year-old boy can write 60 words a minute and not bat an eyelash at incomprehensible, we repeat: Gregg Shorthand is easy.

Gregg Shorthand is not only easy to learn, but it is also easy to teach, particularly if you take advantage of the teaching aids that Doctor Gregg has made available to teachers of his system. Perhaps the finest such aid is Gregg Speed Studies, which was one of the first supplementary texts published by Doctor Gregg — and its popularity was instantaneous and lasting. Today it is the most widely used supplementary shorthand text in the world.

How does Gregg Speed Studies contribute toward making the teaching and learning of Gregg Shorthand easy? Well you asked for it:

1. It is correlated unit by unit with the Gregg Shorthand Manual. As soon as the teacher has presented the theory from the Gregg Shorthand Manual, he can cement his teaching into the student’s mind through the supplementary word lists illustrating the principles he has taught and through the four or five pages of printed shorthand into which many illustrations of the principles are woven. This graded connected matter, even in the very early units, has a surprisingly high literary quality, in spite of the limited vocabulary available.

2. It provides a novel and interesting approach to the penmanship problem though the use of enlarged models for the student’s study and imitation. The penmanship exercise is presented immediately after the alphabetic strokes have been studied in the Manual.

3. It provides a simple but effective plan for teaching the analogical word-beginnings and -endings in Chapters X and XI and the special forms in Chapter XII of the Manual.

4. It supplies a wealth of ungraded material to develop the student’s shorthand skill and vocabulary.

If you haven’t experienced the pleasure that Gregg Speed Studies adds to your shorthand teaching, plan to introduce the text with your next class of beginners.

Also, if any of your students should insinuate that shorthand is difficult, tell them about seven-year old Emil and his 60 words a minute in English and in German!

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