Hello! New Member from Brazil Here!

Hello, folks!

My name is Luís and I have just received kind permission from Carlos to be a part of this thriving community of wonderful people helping keep the art of shorthand alive.

I am Brazilian (born and still living here) and work as a translator and language teacher (teaching English, Japanese and Esperanto).

I have already studied a great shorthand system to write Brazilian Portuguese, though I am still practicing it and have to wait until I feel ready to practice dictation. However, since all best shorthand systems (IMHO) are phonetic, it would be impossible (or at least not practical) to use the same system for English.

I teach English at home and at a school, and at the school we have to take notes of important things during class. Namely, we have to jot down every word mispronounced by the student, as well as the grammatically wrong sentences. I found that doing that by longhand is incredibly cumbersome, since it takes time and also drains my attention for longer. Sometimes I lose important bits of don’t write some things altogether just because of that. Since I already know Brazilian shorthand, it was only expected that I should connect the dots and reach the obvious conclusion: I needed some Gregg in my life.

After lots of research and perusal of this site’s posts, I finally decided for Simplified, for obvious reasons (though I realize that Diamond J. would work just as well for my purposes and I confess that I love that yellow cover). I ordered the Functional method and the Dictionary through AbeBooks and while I wait for them (it usually takes a month) I am learning the basics through the video series on Youtube “Gregg Shorthand for Personal Notetaking”. And I have the Angelfishy webpage on my favorites as well.

Since I have studied (and still study) many languages, I have no qualms about learning different writing systems. I have always had a deep interest in English spelling reforms and have studied the Shaw alphabet, which naturally took me to Quikscript, or “The Read Alphabet”. Quikscript is fonetic and has both a Junior (mostly letter by letter) and a Senior (joined and abbreviated) script system. I am still thinking whether I should use Gregg or Quikscript for the single words I have to write… The words are specific words that the student should practice and they are usually in a list without any context. In other words, I have no phrase to tell me whether the word is “bean” or “bin”. I know I could use the old-school greg vowel marks from Pre-Anniversary to specify that, but at the same time, Quikscript is something I learned in two days and am already able to jot down (though still not in Senior script).

However… there is still the problem that both systems are phonetic, so there is still no way to distinguish “bean” and “been”, and since classes vary a lot in content, anything would be possible.

In the end, I think it’s just a question of using any system every time I can, and return to longhand every time I need to avoid ambiguity. I would still be saving loads of time and wrist movement.

Nevertheless, if any of you were brave enough to read through this unending wall-of-text ™, if you have any other suggestions for me they would be much appreciated.

Thank you once again for keeping shorthand alive and I guess we will see each other around here for quite some time!


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13 comments Add yours
  1. Welcome to the blog, Luis. While the second edition of the Simplified manual does not present the diacritical vowel marks, you can still use them. But if you still feel that even with the mark the transcription can be ambiguous, you can write the the actual vowel in longhand on top of the desired outline. It is a technique that is used often, especially in proper names that have different spellings with the same sound.

    1. Thank you once again for accepting my request and for your tips! I will certainly try using that! I was also pretty impressed at your collection of reading material for Simplified! Thanks for the work of making all that available, not to mention the material you have made yourself!
      You have actually inspired me. If I manage to become good at the Brazilian method I use I just might create a page just like this to try to show shorthand to more people!

  2. I would also like to add what other books I should acquire to further my studies after I have finished studying the basic method.
    I found a lot about the different variations of materials and their overlaps, but that still hasn't helped me truly find what is really "must have". Brazil is going through a crisis so every dollar equals almost 4 of my money, so I pay quadruple value of everything (not to mention overseas shipping). Otherwise I would just buy everything I could find, haha.

    It seems that I shouldn't bother buying the regular manual, nor the "Simplified for Colleges vol 1", since they cover the same ideas. I was thinking about a Dictation book such as Dictation Simplified or "Colleges vol 2", is it a good idea? Which one would be better?

    I honestly am not very interested in writing a whole bunch of commercial letters, since I need a more varied vocabulary and will write mostly colloquial sentences and random things from many topics. Having said that, whatever you tell me that would be very important to try, I am up for it.

    I have seen someone mentioning the book "Most Used Shorthand Word and Phrases (Simplified)". I have found "Phrases of Gregg Shorthand Simplified" for sale here in Brazil. Is it the same thing? I have also found "Speed Building Simplified", is it worth it?.

    What about the other books, like transcription drills and whatnot? In my mind, I feel that after learning with those basic book I could just practice writing whatever I can find and transcribe/read the material available here, so maybe it wouldn't be necessary to buy those books?

    1. The issue with the Simplified and later series books is that the reading and writing material is for the most part boring business letters. However, that doesn't mean that you will not be learning something worthwhile or that you won't be able to write anything besides business letters: you can see in this blog that you can write anything that you want with any series of Gregg.

      About the Simplified series books, two kinds of books were published in the US: a set for high school and another set for college. The lessons in Vol. 1 of the college series and the regular manual (including the functional method manual) are exactly the same, save for the reading and writing material which can be slightly different. Vol. 2 of the College books is equivalent to Gregg Dictation Simplified. To complicate matters, there are first and second editions of the same books (the principles are the same but the reading and writing material may be slightly different). You can read all about it in my comments to this post.

      I think that other worthwhile books to get if you have the opportunity are the Gregg Shorthand Dictionary Simplified (also titled Word List of Gregg Shorthand Simplified), and the Most Used Shorthand Word and Phrases (Simplified) books. This last one has words and phrases correlated with every lesson of the regular manual and just adds additional frequent words and phrases that apply the principles of the lesson. About the "Phrases of Gregg Shorthand Simplified" book, it is just a dictionary of phrases. It is a good reference, but it is not absolutely necessary for learning. (Incidentally, starting with DJS, a separate phrase book was not published: phrases were added in the regular dictionary.)

      The typical shorthand study sequence starts with the basic manual (regular or functional method manual, or Vol. 1 college manual), followed by a dictation course, then a transcription course, and lastly speed building, each of these phases taking one semester. Remember that each lesson of the simplified manual was designed to be covered in a 40-minute class period, and since classes used to meet 5 times a week, this would mean that each book has enough material for a semester. After the basic course, the second semester dictation course was designed to consolidate the principles learned in the basic manual. After a year of shorthand study, you should be writing at about 80-100 wpm, which should get you into the third semester transcription course, followed by the fourth semester speed building course. In some cases, the transcription course was replaced by a year of speed building. Besides these 4 typical semesters, additional books were published for those who wanted to increase their dictation speed to reporting levels. However, my recommendation for you now is not to worry about these additional books and concentrate on studying the beginning manual. Once you are reaching the end of it and are able to write comfortably at 60 wpm, then you can revisit where you are and determine whether you want to keep improving with additional books. Given your situation, it's really not worth it getting additional books at this stage, other than the dictionary and the Most Used Words book.

      1. Thanks for such a detailed explanation!
        It's good to know that the "Phrases" book is useful, since I have already purchased it. Too bad that it is different from the "Most used Words and Phrases", since that one is not readily available over here and I will not be able to order overseas for some time.

        Nevertheless, as you said it yourself, I've got plenty to work with for quite some time. I have to get ahold of myself, because I tend to get carried away when I'm excited about something new, especially when it comes to books.

        I'll keep you posted!

      2. Some bad luck, I'm afraid…

        The "Phrases" book I'd ordered was non-existant and the thrift bookstore cancelled my order. I tried checking AbeBooks, but even though they have the "Most used words and phrases" book you mentioned, the shipping to Brazil is almost 10 times the cost of the book itself, which is not worth it. It's a shame considering that the other books I bought from there cost only 7 dollars per book for shipping…

        Well, at least the Functional Method and Dictionary are on the way. I guess I'll have to make do with them and forget about the "words and phrases" book. Nevertheless it seems that they should be more than enough anyway!

  3. Bem vindo!  I hope I spelled it right, ha-ha.  Welcome to the shorthand community.

    I read somewhere that keeping a diary or journal in shorthand might help you.  I do know after a while it really does become automatic to use your shorthand in daily life.  Happy learning!

    1. Obrigado! And yes, it is perfectly spelled =)

      I do consider writing a diary using all shorthand methods I am practicing, but I need to be writing more comfortably before doing that!

  4. Welcome Luis!  I'm learning simplified too.  I'm using the Gregg Shorthand Manual Simplified, edition 2.  I'm in week 11 and I'm working on Lesson 11.  I did get a copy of the dictionary too.  It comes in handy now and then.

    1. Thank you!
      I'll be using the Functional Method, but unfortunately AbeBook gives much less details about the books than I expected, so I have no idea if I got the first or second edition.

      Usually American online stores are very detailed, but in this case, Brazil's online thrift bookstore is much better. They always give the year of the edition, weight, number of pages and specific details about THAT copy. On AbeBooks there is barely any information, not even cover pictures, and most of the descriptions look copy-pasted… 

      Oh well… as far as I remember from some older explanation by Carlos, there is very little difference between editions. My only worries about getting older editions is possible mistakes and all that.

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