Shorthand Systems compared to Chicken Scratchings

It’s been a long time since I visited. I’ve abandoned Gregg. I miss it, but just can’t keep the lines the right length and curve, and can’t read back my own writing, which is the whole point. So, Forkner. It’s fast enough, and I’m adding shortcuts from Gregg to speed it up.

Doesn’t mean I’ve stopped thinking about it, though:

Cricket’s Guide to Different Shorthands, comparison of Chicken Scratching:

Pitman: chickens in geometry class.
Forkner: chickens learning cursive
TeeLine: chickens ballroom dancing.
Gregg: chickens ice dancing.

Inspired by the Itchy Feet Guide to Differentiating between Asian Scripts:

Previous post:
Next post:
14 comments Add yours
  1. Since shorthand has fallen out of any kind of educational or commercial use, it is only a personal interest at this point.  So there's obviously no right or wrong approach–it depends entirely on what you like and why you're interested in learning or using it.  I've seen videos teaching terrible models of Gregg on the Internet, and as someone who learned it in school I cringe a bit, but it actually doesn't matter.

    You clearly have to decide what you want, what your goals are, and what works for you.  Forkner has its own problems.  I'm always intrigued by Speedwriting, which has a long history, but its theory is incoherent.  

    Quite a different world we live in than a century ago.

  2. I've been trying to improve my own Gregg penmanship so that I can transcribe some stories into Notehand for the kids.  I think a key to improving is to always go back and read what you've written in Gregg.  I admit to "writing and running" in my journal, i.e. hardly ever going back and reading what I've written.  I suspect this is why my own penmanship is developing so slowly.  If I don't go back and read it, I can't see where I need to improve.

  3. Actually, let me post something I discovered about proportions that you may find helpful.

    Characters written upward/downwards are measured by height. Not the actual size of the outline, but the vertical height.

    Characters written forwards are measured by width. Horizontal characters are also wider than the up/down characters are tall. For example, I find that n is wider than s is tall.

    Curved characters do not have much curve on them, for example s is taller than k .

    The slant of Gregg is not constant, but downward characters are written steeper than upward characters.

    You can tell the direction of a stroke by looking at the ends of a stroke, the end of a stoke being tapered.

    Gregg speed building for colleges:

       Write each outline so that, as it stands alone on that sheet, you can tell by a glance at which end of the outline you began and at which you left off.  At the beginning of the outline, where your pen first meets the paper, the line should be thickest; the end should taper gently off.  The tapering off is frequently called the "get-away" stroke.  All free writing at a fair speed will show it; the faster the speed, the more pronounced will be the get-away stroke.

  4. Gregg strokes come in three lengths, of course: short like s, t, u, n; medium like f, d, r, m; and long like v, td, l, mn. But in practice the straight strokes have greater length than the curves. You'll see that in almost any well written text. But it's clearest when the strokes are adjacent, as in the name "Ford" or the phrase "it is".

    Regarding downward and upward slanting strokes, not only is it natural for most writers to write downward strokes steeper than upward ones, but if, say, you write ch-d or d-ch, the only way to write these combinations from left to right is to make the downward stroke the steeper one. Because English shorthand, like English longhand, is always written from left to right (certain hooks excepted), this steepness distinction is inherent in English shorthand in general, and is not specific to Gregg.

    The bit about finding the start and end of a stroke by thickness seems suspiciously Pitmanesque. Of course the only strokes that need to be so distinguished when written alone are the upright ones like b and dm. In practice, these are slanted differently, just as the straight strokes are, and usually have slightly different shapes.

  5. I just looked at the penmanship template link above. This looks very helpful. One question though–it says to make b and v as tall as the space between the lines. This is what I remember being taught also, but then I always had a problem with the words getting tangled with the words from the line above.  Anyone else have that problem?

    Carlos, you always write the monthly articles with such good penmanship. How do you manage to keep them from tangling?

    1. Collisions with words are entirely normal: if an outline clashes with another, so be it. I don't think it's a big deal and don't think that writers should avoid them either.

      However, in writing plates for the blog I try to avoid them for just aesthetic/legibility reasons by using slant and spacing. Since I know what the outline should look like before I write it, I make slight adjustments. But again, this is only when I do plate writing, not in my normal shorthand writing!

        1. If you want, why don't you post a sample of your writing? In that way, we can see what you're doing right and give you some advice for those things that can be improved.

          1. I'm not really sure how to do that. However, I'm beginning to think I've just been too hard on myself. My handwriting is okay when I'm going slow. At faster speeds though, I'm not so consistent in keeping sizes right. You know–g's and k's look too alike. b's and p's.  And then with some words hanging down into lower rows and other words stretching into the upper row, it's harder for me to read back.

            I did appreciate your suggestion before, to keep practicing my reading even on days when I can't do much writing. I think that's helping. I'm also starting to use my shorthand for other things, like lists and notes to myself. I should have done that before. That's a good way to get more practice reading it back.

  6. I remembered this from the Daily Gregg on Tumbler.  He/she photocopied a page from a Gregg textbook onto graph paper.  It really helps you see the proportions.  Graph paper can be a good way to practice.  Also, the guide sheet that Carlos created is awesome.  (By the way, I miss the Daily Gregg!  I wonder what happened?)

    A geeky way to study shorthand: Photocopy some nicely written shorthand onto graph paper and measure the proportions. It won’t help you to write better shorthand but it makes the time go by during those boring late afternoon hours at work.




Leave a Reply