Did the elimination of the reversing principle slow things down?

It is my understanding that Simplified and later are generally considered to be inherently slower than Anniversary and Pre-Anniversary (but easier to learn).  My understanding is that that is mostly because of the reduced number of brief forms and special forms in Simplified and later, but I am wondering what effect the elimination of the reversing principle had on speed, in the opinion of people who have used both.  On the face of it, it would seem to be about a wash, and the reduction in learning time resulting from the elimination was accomplished without a detrimental effect on the final speed of a person once they became an expert.  In some cases, the Simplified outline might even take less time to write than the Anniversary outline. For instance, in the word lard, estimating a reversal in the direction in which the point of the writing instrument to take about as long as it takes to write a stroke, lard would be

l-reverse-largeCCWcircle-d in Anniversary (with largeCCWCircle being a large counterclockwise circle and “reverse” being an abupt 180 degree change in writing direction)


l-largeCCWcircle-rd in Simplified (counting the rd as a single stroke).

Perhaps, however, outlines that take less time with the reversing principle come up more often than those that take the same amount of time or more time.  What is your opinion?

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12 comments Add yours
  1. Hello,
    I think it’s the kind of things that is very difficult to demonstrate.
    Because the difference of time is so infinitesimal that it’s the difference of knowing perfectly the form and doing it easily that will be always more significant.
    It’s suppressing the hesitation that should be the primary objectif, in my opinion.

    For example, I prefer Sénécal to French DJS because the forms are simpler, simpler to remember, simpler to trace. Well, I also began with it and I see no point to change. With Sénécal, there’s the Reversing Principle and even if the resulting form is sometimes strange, the form is also more distinctive and so easier to memorize…

    1. I agree with Christine. This is more a question of writing distinct transcribable outlines, and not necessarily speed.

      As I mentioned before, my issue with the rd stroke is that you need really good penmanship to make it distinct. On the other hand, with the reversing principle, the act of reversing the circle direction makes the outline already distinct. With your "lard" example, if you don't write it correctly in Simplified, one may read "lather", "land", "lend/t", "leather", etc. However, "lard" with the reversing principle is very distinct and there are no other words that the outline could be confused with.

  2. Based on your answers, it would seem that the reversing principle contributes indirectly to speed.  Given that, with increasing speed, penmanship worsens, that point at which the penmanship becomes so bad that it is illegible occurs at a lower speed in Simplified because the form of the rd stroke is so close to that of other strokes.

  3. Is there any real evidence for this, though? I sometimes get the feeling on this blog that any version later than Anniversary is seen as somewhat inferior, whereas my view is that probably each version has its strengths and weaknesses. I know this has been chewed over before, but there doesn't seem to be much objective evidence around.

    1. Maybe if we think shorthand versions are like cars — all get you from point A to point B, but not all of them are the same — would be a closer analogy?

  4. I figure, if it works for you, it's right.  I learned DJS as well as some Simplified brief  forms.  Also made up some of my own as I'm sure many have.  

    I've a collection of books from pre Anniversary to DJS collected at the library book sales over the years.

    My grandfather learned Pitman eons ago.  It worked for him as he used it for taking college notes.


  5. Submitted for your approval.  Instead of the standard rd, rt endings in simplified, DJ, which are hard to write or can become illegible at speed,  I've been using the ng, nk symbols since I know of no english words that end in arng erng ernk etc. So I use the ng, nk symbols , beard would be b e r nk   lard would be l a r nk  dirt would be d e r ng  The only times the ng nk symbols are used this way is after r, otherwise they are used as normal.

    Also since in  simplified, DJ the clockwise or ctr clockwise movement of the circle is unimportant since it's always an a or e, I really don't care which direction the circle is, usually ctr clockwise is the most natural way of making the circle just like in regular handwriting.

    1. Interesting. Since you’re adding the r already, isn’t it as easy to add a d or a t to the r, instead of ng/nk? That was the way it was written in Greghand.

  6. I'm not sure why there is felt to be such a problem with the 'rd' blend. It seems to me that a lot of Gregg, whichever variety, requires accurate penmanship – 'th' for example. I have never noticed that 'rd' is a particular problem, but then I tend to curl the top backwards very slightly 🙂

  7. To me, it is the rt in Simplified (and the lt in many, if not all, forms of Gregg shorthand) that seems contrived.   If you look at an r or an l by itself, it ends up at an angle of about 30 degrees above the horizontal.  A t by itself is written at about 45 degrees above the horizontal.  So the t is written at a slightly bigger angle relative to the horizontal than the r comes in at.  But when the strokes are written in a word such as  shirt, they are modified to reverse this relation.  In the Simplified dictionary, the r gets curled at the end so its coming in at about 75 degrees above the horizontal, and the t is about 25 degrees above the horizontal, having been written more like an n than a t by itself is written.  This creates the desired noticeable angle between the r and the t, but it is the reverse angle to the natural angle between the two letters.  This joining appears to have always been a feature of Gregg shorthand.  When I look at the word guilt in the Anniversary dictionary, I see what looks like a jog between the l and the t.  In the various forms of the word culture, in that dictionary, it looks like the joining was so difficult that Ms. Richmond didn't write it consistently.  In the word culture, the t is distinct, but in uncultured, the t joins smoothly (perhaps with a minuscule jog opposite the jog in guilt) to the l.

    Note that when there is a circle between the r/l and the t/d, as in grateful or greed for instance, the outline is written as if there is no angle between the r/l and the t/d.

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