How do you write….?

I’ve been googling whether there was a “how do you write…?” thread, and there doesn’t seem to be one, so I decided to start one. Apologies if there already is one that didn’t appear on my searches.

There have been a few words that I have been trying to work out what is the “proper” way to write the outline:

“psychosomatic” – sikosom (using the abbreviating principle) ?

”throwaway” – thro(underline)a (I’m not sure if it should be thro(dot)ua)? In fact I’m really not sure how to write any of the -away words.

I use the Gregg 1916 manual.




49 comments Add yours
      1. Not according to theory, because you have a word with a suffix that can be modified with derivatives. (For example, how would you write psychosomatically? ) That's one of the reasons the disjoined ending is used.

        However, you can always write it anyway you want, as long as you can transcribe it.

        1. Hmm.. reading through the Gregg manuals I thought that the abbreviating principle disregards  whether there are any further derivatives:


          1888 – Drop the terminations of words, i.e., write so much of the outline as will, with the aid of the subject matter and vocalized context , suggest the whole word, as "unan" for "unanimously," "diplom" for "diplomacy."

          This appears to disregard the fact diplomat could represent diploma, diplomat, diplomatic, diplomatically, diplomacies

          1916 – Many long words may be abbreviated by dropping the terminations. It would be a waste of time and effort to write more of a word than is necessary to suggest it when transcribing. This principle is already familiar in longhand, as Rev. for Reverend, ans. for answer, Jan. for January, Phila. forPhiladelphia, etc.

          The extent to which the principle may be applied depends upon the familiarity of the writer with the words and subject matter. Every writer can apply it easily and naturally to familiar words, and adapt it to the special requirements of the line ofworkin which he may be engaged.

          Seems rather vague

          Gregg shorthand dictionary 1916 – Almost all -atic entries use the disjointed ending. Exception to this is “democratic” dmk

          So really, the abbreviating principle should be “drop the terminations of words, if there are no further derivatives”?  Or maybe “drop terminations, as long as there are no joined or disjointed endings”?

          1. Think of analogical endings (whether disjoined or not) as applications of the abbreviating principle — you're still writing what is sufficient to reconstruct the word. It is just that in the case of "psychosomatic", if you stop at the "m" instead of the disjoined "a", you're stopping too soon according to theory. That's all. The advantage of using the analogical ending is that you can easily modify it for derivatives — that’s what I meant in my previous post. Anyway, as I pointed out, you can write the word anyway you want, as long as you can transcribe it.

  1. "Anyway, as I pointed out, you can write the word anyway you want, as long as you can transcribe it."

    Yes, Carlos! Now this might seem weird, but in my professional notes I use r-e-k for "computable" and r-e for "computably enumerable". There's a rationale, of course. In my field of study, these terms used to be "recursive" and "recursively enumerable", with a standard abbreviation of r.e. for "recursively enumerable". In the 1980s there was a shift in the terminology, but I've kept writing the abbreviations I started with before that happened. It causes no problem for me to transcribe these short forms, but it would probably seriously confuse anyone except a rather elderly person in my field.

    1. Your example reminded me of "hundredweight" in Anni, which is expressed as subscript n-u. (But then how many of us have ever used that word?)  🙂

      Dr. Gregg's assertion that "the correct outline is the the one you can correctly transcribe" was offered in a very general context, but I think his point has particular relevance to actual writing.

      Obviously, when you're engaged in rapid writing there's simply no time to stop and look things up. The point is that one should be adequately familiar with the principles of outline construction to come up with an acceptable outline on the fly–don't allow the scourge of hesitation to creep in!

      Dr. Gregg also said that if you're unsure the outline you've written is technically correct, "put a ring around it" and check it later. I follow this advice for three reasons:

      1. There may be a more compact way to form the outline.

      2. There may be rules that should have taken priority over the rule(s) I relied on at the time.

      3. There may be additional reasons why an official outline was adopted, such as avoiding conflict with another word.

      1. Actually, it seems to me that the Gregg short form for "hundredweight" is reasonable, given that "hundred" is subscript n and "weight" begins with u. The strange one is the standard longhand abbreviation for it, which is cwt. I suspect the c comes from Latin centum. I guess "hundredweight" must have been a common word at one time.

  2. Here's another theory question: when reading the Gregg books, "left" is written l-f-t . But "lift" is written l-e-f-t. Is there any reason why the vowel is omitted in the first case but not the second?

    1. There is no hard and fast rule for the omission of circle vowels. In this case, "left" is more common than "lift", so the vowel is omitted from the most common word for convenience, and is included in "lift" to make a positive distinction.

      In Simplified and later series, both words are written exactly the same, with the circle vowel.

  3. How do you write "genre" in DJS and Simplified?

    I know "zh" sound is written by using ish in most words like "treasure" "vision" etc. What about if it begins with "zh?"

  4. Here's another one that puzzles me: why is "cordial" written k-o-j (it appears in the "short vocabulary" section of the 1916 manual written like that), since it is pronounced /ˈkɔːdɪəli/ (with a d sound)? 

    1. The outline for "cordial" is following the American Pronunciation (Merriam-Webster, Cambridge) of the word ( \ˈkȯr-jəl \ or /ˈkɔr·dʒəl/) + Omission of R rule + Abbreviating Principle.

      In the UK Simplified dictionary, the word is written with the rd stroke, while in all US Gregg dictionaries, it is written with the j. Unfortunately, "cordial" is not in the short vocabulary of British edition of the 1916 manual.

    2. Another comment on your question on writing the word "cordial."  When writing words with "ord" and "ort," the "r" is omitted.  For example, "sword" is written "s-o-d."  Report is written "r-p-o-t," and "sort" is written "s-o-t."

    1. This is an extension of paragraph 64 of the manual: derivatives of brief forms usually have their endings disjoined to make the root form distinct. The ending can be joined if the outline is still distinct. In this case also, if we write “usage” with the ending joined (e – oo hook – j), it can be confused with the word "huge" if one leaves the h dot out.

  5. I love this blog!  I just joined!  I have taught shorthand for more than 30 years and use it every day of my life.  I started a shorthand club in March 2003 with two ladies.   Our mailing list is over 200 and growing.  We write each other birthday cards, notes, news articles about shorthand, etc.  Shorthand Writers of Maine meets once a month for lunch and meeting.  I take a white board and markers and we begin with a brief form/phrase quiz, theory lesson, crossword puzzles/jokes/word search, and, of course, dictation of business letters.  We laugh more than anything else!  And love it!

  6. The average age of our group is 80's.  We just celebrated two 100th birthdays this summer.  One of our members passed away a few months ago at the age of 104.  Last month we celebrated a 100th birthday of one of our members who also taught school.  One of her shorthand students, a member of our club, was there–she is 87…..Class of '48.  I have a picture of "teacher and student" 69 years later.

  7. Why is "humblest" written h u-m-b s-t (with the s-t disjoined)? From the comments above, the suffix is disjoined to avoid confusion. But I can't really see what it could be confused with? What tripped me up with reading this word was that the h is often omitted, so it ends up as u-m-b s-t , which I spent ages thinking it was the -istic ending, which actually creates more confusion!

  8. How do you write "nonparametric"? Because it could be made of prefixes it could be "n-o-n-p m-e k" or "n-o-n-p-a-r-mt-r-k"? (Is it the second because "non" is not a joined prefix?)

  9. In addition, how would you write parameter? because "para" and "metr" are word beginings, is it "p m-e" above the line, or is it "p mete" (last e reversed)?

    1. "meter/re" is a disjoined prefix in pre-Anni. In Anni "meter" and "metric" are written out.

      I'm as interested to hear what Carlos says about this, but I've sometimes used double prefixes. In Astronomy class I wrote "electromagnetic" as disjoined e-l, below which I wrote the m for "magn," and below that t-e-k. Two separate prefixes!

      In your other example of nonpara-, I think disjoined n-o-n-p would be appropriate, as this is common practice in prefix construction.

      1. Words with "meter" are tricky to write because, although the 1916 new and revised edition uses the disjoined m-e when "meter" is used as a prefix, there is no standard way of writing when it is used as a suffix (this was standardized in the Anniversary edition by using m-e-t-reversed e). The outlines above use the "meter" prefix, while still retaining legibility (which is probably the most important consideration).

  10. I am puzzled by the treatment of the -ate endings in anniversary and pre-anniversary Gregg:

    For rate, late, tate, cut off the "t"

    For gate, kate, cut off "ate" completely 

    For everything else leave the word alone. 

    Why is there such a strange rule? Why not just use the abbreviating principle and cut off the "ate" in all cases? What are the authors afraid of getting words confused with? 

    1. Beats me. I haven't sat down to figure out why the rule was there in the first place. However, my preference would have been to write the whole ending instead of abbreviating, mainly because it would be easier to write the past tense without having to lift the pen.

      1. Ok, I did some digging: 

        From the Q & As of shorthand theory book:

        "The rule for the omission of tor d when slightly enunciated has been generally interpreted as applicable only when the t or d is preceded by a consonant. It has been gradually extended to many words in which a vowel or diphthong precedes t or d. In the revision of the dictionary greater uniformity of practice was established in this respect. The practice is to omit t in the termination rate, late, tate, sate; but not in cate, fate, gate, mate, nate, vale. The t is retained in cate, fate, gate, mate, nate, vate, because it requires no effort to execute."

        "A curious thing about cate and gate, especially when preceded by a short e or short i (icate, igate) is that the abbreviating principle is almost invariably applied after c and g, This has grown up generally without conscious thought or direction."

        1. Thanks for posting this. So the omission of t or d rule (that applies in words like "president" and "mind") was extended to the -ate ending, but without much consistency. Interesting.

    1. By Gregg messages, do you mean the postings from this blog?  If so, you could probably do a "print screen" and paste it into Word.  You'll have to adjust the graphic size on the page, most likely.  If it's only text, you can try cut and pasting.  If it's an image, you can right-click on it and cut and paste into Word.

      A better solution is to get an Evernote account and their Web Clipper plug-in.  Web Clipper will clip any web page for you and put it into your Evernote account, even if the website disappears later.  You can print from Evernote, too.  Evernote has its own powerful search engine, so you'll be able to perform searches on note content and tag your notes, and organize your notes by notebooks and stacks.  My shorthand library in Evernote is very impressive by now, including complete with dictation files, ready to play anywhere!  They have a web version, desktop version, and mobile version, and they all sync together.


  11. How would you write "reword" and "rework"? r-e-u-d (with the inside the r but the u outside) and r-e-r-k (r-r-k doesn't feel right). I use 1916 Gregg (but with bits of Anni).

  12. Might it work to disjoin the re as in r-e/u-d and r-e/r-k? It seems to me that this should do, in particular since the tr principle gives nonsense ("retroword" and "retrowork"). Alternatively, maybe you could use the disjunction but with the joining mark–that is, the "smile" written under the line to join the outlines.

    1. I could see someone disjoining "reword" for clarity and writing as disjoined r – e + oo hook d, but I usually don't disjoin if the outline is still legible. In contrast, the re- prefix in words like "rewind" and "rewire" would need to be disjoined to make the outline legible.

  13. Since there have been no new posts for several days, I thought I'd spark things up with a nerdy question.

    On an old Saturday Night Live broadcast, Emily Litella is asked for her reaction to television violence. She mistakes the word "violence" to be "violins", and editorializes that there ought to be more violins on TV in prime time.

    So here's the question: If you were to take this dialogue in your favorite series of Gregg shorthand, how would you distinguish between "violence" and "violins"?

    1. In general, when you have an outline that could represent different words and the outline meaning is still ambiguous by context (as in this example), or if you have different spellings for the same word and you want to make sure you transcribe it with the exact spelling (as in names, such as "Kelly" vs. "Kelley"), you just write the correct spelling in longhand on top of the outline. In the example you cite, you would write a longhand "e" or "i" above the outline, depending on whether it was "violence" or "violins", and in the “Kelly/Kelley” case, you just write in longhand "y" or "ey" directly above.

      Continuing with this nerdy topic, should you write the longhand before or after you write the shorthand outline? laugh

      1. In the case of a proper name with variable or otherwise awkward or unusual spelling, the textbooks typically just write the longhand form in the first instance, then the shorthand form thereafter.

        If all that's needed is a longhand letter or two for clarification, my vote would be to write it after the shorthand outline. This maintains the general flow of writing, the extra letters being added in the same manner as diacritical marks.

        There, now I feel like a nerd!  😉

      1. They're both written the same way, with the e circle for the ending, in all series. The only difference is that in Simplified and later series, the broken circle used for the "io" sound is replaced with the double circle.

    2. I saw this dialogue when it first aired on TV. Just a few days ago, and many years after it first aired, I watched it again on YouTube. It occurred to me then that "violence" and "violins" are written identically in all Gregg series (at least as far as I know). So some sort of ingenuity is needed to distinguish them in a situation like this, and I'm interested in what you as Gregg writers might do.

      1. I suggested above that the -ens in violence is actually an -uns which then the short u can be omitted, while that is not so with -ins. Can't really think of any other solutions?


        Another tricky one is "raising horses" vs "racing horses". Or boar, bore, boor, Boer.

  14. I posted my question because I was perplexed as to how to distinguish "violence" from "violins". But Niten Ichi's post gives me a couple of ideas.

    First, just like "raising" versus "racing", we have a z sound versus an s sound in "violins" and "violence". So we could mark "violins" with the diacritic for the z sound (found in Pre-Anni).

    Another thing we could do is mark the e in "violence". It's not actually an eh or uh sound, but a schwa. But pronouncing it like eh doesn't harm the meaning of the word, and that sound can also be marked with a diacritic (from Anni and Pre-Anni).

    There's no diacritic in Gregg for marking the s sound in "violence". There's also no diacritic for the short i in "violin", though, unless you follow Louis Leslie's innovation of writing "immigrate" with a subscripted micron under the first i. (A micron is a Webster-style short vowel mark, shaped like the smile on a Smiley Face.)

    These solutions seem awkward to me, though. If anyone has better ideas, please let me know.

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