Syllabic Writing (a book)

A few months ago I saw a book titled Syllabic Writing for sale online. The description was sparse: the listing only gave the title, said it was about shorthand and was published in 1937. I bought it assuming it would be a description of some obscure and exotic shorthand system based on syllables.

It’s actually a listing of word families in Gregg Shorthand, presumably the Anniversary version.

The author’s name is given in the copyright notice as Lois Blanche de Lafayette-Storey-Washburn, but listed on the title page as Lois de Lafayette Washburn. Googling the latter version of her name reveals that she had a very colorful history.

The book’s publisher was listed as Syllabic Writing Publications, Chicago. Copyright 1931, 1933, 1937.

“This arrangement of the syllables, segments and phrases offers the student an intensive review of all the principles, some of which have been entirely omitted from the 1929 Anniversary editions of Gregg texts,” says the preface.

Here’s a link to a sample page —

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8 comments Add yours
  1. Thanks for posting. I'm interested in this. I've never heard of this book before. Does the preface say what is the purpose of the book and how it should be used?

    1. After reading that excerpt of the preface, I went to Amazon, saw they had an autographed copy of the book on sale and bought it. It is a very rare book!

      1. Has this book (Syllabic writing; the syllables, setments and phrases of the entire English language, by Lois de Lafayette Washburn) proved useful to you, Carlos?

        1. I haven't used it often. The times that I've used it is to see the author's cataloguing of analogical endings, which is quite comprehensive.

    2. Congrats on snagging an autographed copy!

      I wonder if she submitted it to Gregg Publishing and they turned it down for some reason. She seems like a strongly opinionated person so I suppose she would have been unwilling to have her work edited or revised.

  2. Fascinating !! From the bit that you quoted from the preface, it sounds like it covers all of the principles of pre-Anni. Thanks for posting the sample page.

    Is the whole book like the sample page? i.e. does the whole book consist of the alphabetical listing of the word families (which would appear to be helpful alone) or does it have other sections?

    1. Hi Susan. The book is mostly the alphabetical catalog of word families. There are about 20 pages of miscellaneous facts and opinions about shorthand at the end of the book.

      The author was a big fan of phrasing and listed 16 situations in which phrasing can be used.

      She mentions two ways in which she modified Gregg shorthand in her own usage. (1) When T or D is followed by K or G, she used a pen lift and a very close writing of the second stroke, rather than a "jog," as in bodkin, Edgar, Radcliffe… (2) something about writing the sequence of vowels in gayety, Fayette, laity by using the double circle with the long vowel mark under it.

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