Inverted commas


I know you are not supposed to write commas in shorthand, but when writing a text in shorthand that you want to keep with you for a long time (like a diary or personal notes) or to share with others, commas can really become indispensable.

So I was wondering if an inverted comma (by that I mean, written downwards and from left to right) could do the trick and avoid any confusion with an isolated S (which is written from right to left like a regular comma). I know that another solution is to circle your comma but that sounds a bit cumbersome.



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    1. Also see the "Q and As of shorthand theory" by Gregg. Page 5:

      Is there a shorthand symbol for the comma?
      No; we use the orJinary comma, placing it
      below the line of writing, to avoid confusing it with the shorthand forms.

  1. For most of my life I wrote simplified shorthand in-between the lines of the notepaper (though now I realise I should have written it ON the line).  When I wrote like this I used a "v" to indicate a comma (the dash sign for a full stop with a follow-on upward stroke).  [N.B. The manual offered me no guidance as to where I should write the shorthand because there were no lines shown, so I assumed it floated freely between them.]

    But using the lines correctly the comma starts on the line and comes down, whereas an s is above the line.  I use commas all the time (far too many for correct English usage) and there is no confusion like this.

    I think.

  2. I started out with Simplified, and the Simplified Manual specifically teaches you how to use commas. To help distinguish I make my commas a little more like typeface, with a little dot at the beginning, and a distinct curve, as opposed to my normal commas, which are just little dashes.

  3. Thanks everyone! In French the normal comma can be confused with a standalone S which means "se" and is an extremely common word, hence the high risk of confusion if using just a regular comma. I guess V could work too. How about my idea of inverting my comma, I don’t know. I don’t think there is any word that could be written that way, but I’m hoping to get confirmation for someone more knowledgeable.



    1. In English the normal comma can be confused with a standalone S which means "his" and is an extremely common word.

      As I said in my previous post, using a comma which is below the line of writing avoids confusion.

  4. Write the comma under the line of writing and draw a circle around it if you need a positive distinction. It’s not cumbersome at all. That's how they do it in books written in Simplified or later. No need to reinvent the wheel.

    Comma in Shorthand

    1. Interesting! I thought they just did that to highlight the commas for teaching comma theory, I didn't realize it was to distinguish them.

      1. The purpose is indeed to teach comma theory and, in the process, they are highlighted. Normally, shorthand texts do not include commas — it was assumed that students would know grammar and could also create confusion with the s — but they started doing that in the Simplified series texts and continued in ensuing books to teach the proper place of commas. So if you need to include the commas in your text, follow this procedure and you’ll be fine.

    2. Subsequent to Calos's comment about Simplified describing how to place text "on the line", I looked at my old McGraw hill book and found it was so described at one place.  Perhaps it would have been better of them to show a line (perhaps dotted) at that point where they mentioned it.  I certainly would have noticed, while I was learning those 40 years ago, had such a line been apparent.

      The idea of having printed, encircled commas is OK for teaching how secretaries should place commas when typing up their shorthand notes, but it is not relevant to how people like us should keep a written record in shorthand of our own shorthand notes.

      Niten Ichi is on the ball, as ever, here.

      1. You can make relevant anything in your writing that you want to make relevant: like writing commas inside shorthand texts in this case. In my years of writing, I've never written a comma in my own notes, ever. However, I can understand if you want to be precise for some reason or if you need to share text with someone. My general point is that if you need to write a comma for whatever reason, you don't need to make a new symbol for it, and that there is no need to reinvent the wheel: make it known that what you write is a comma and nothing else, whether is by circling it or by placing under the line, or whatever method you decide. You say having encircled commas is OK for teaching secretaries to place commas when typing their notes but not relevant to keep a record of your own notes. But the secretary types the notes to keep a record too, so in fact, you are doing exactly the same as the secretary is doing, but this time in your own shorthand text! Like I said, eventually it is you who needs to make sure that can read your own notes. I won't be mad if you don't follow my suggestion — it's your writing and I don't intend to see it. But saying that circling commas only applies for teaching secretaries where to place them, and not for distinguishing commas is like saying that a paper clip is only good for holding papers together. Lastly, I would think that if commas were an issue in shorthand writing and needed a special symbol, Dr. Gregg himself would have thought of something when devising his system.smiley

        Incidentally, Pitman Shorthand doesn't use commas either. Maybe the Pitman writers in the forum can share what they do.

        1. Thanks Carlos.  I agree with all you say.  But I do use commas rather a lot when writing things.  And I've writen them as a normal comma (as directed by the Manual) for some while now.

  5. Thanks everyone for the suggested alternatives, but I guess what I was really asking was whether using an inverted comma as I describe could turn out to be problematic or not. I don’t have enough practical experience to envision all possible scenarios where this symbol could potentially be confused with something else.

    I did read about the circled comma but I personally don’t find this solution to be particularly pretty, even if I’m sure it is a practical one.

    As for the comma under the line of writing, it is difficult to use when there is no line on your paper and you then have to be extremely precise not to make it look like a his/se… so I guess that’s not a method that would work for me.

    Thanks again!

  6. What about a little vertical dash with the same length as ‘-tion’?
    Alone, in French, it doesn’t mean anything…

    1. In English, it means SHIP or SHORT. You'd still have to mark it somehow, just like with using a normal comma which might be IS or HIS.

      I find it easy enough to write a comma crossing the line or a bit lower, and S just touching. Also, it's rare that IS or HIS would work in the sentence (and vice versa).

  7. There are in fact times when commas are important in written English, just as pauses are important in spoken English. See the book Eats Shoots and Leaves (or Eats, Shoots and Leaves) for an example. I use a mark that someone else suggested several years ago, I think in this forum. It's just a double shorthand period, rather like a capitalization mark but written with backslashes instead of forward slashes. It's quicker than circling a comma, writing the round head of a comma, or finding the line to put the comma on. It's just as fast, easy, and distinctive as the v Nicholas Salkilld mentioned above.

    1. Commas are important, yes: "We are eating, children!" and "We are eating children."

      Using them is a matter of context: often, shorthand is used as a memory aid, not really as a form of writing in the same way as longhand.

      I must admit that, sometimes, the lack of commas is a challenge when reading some texts I haven't written. But it appeals to my inner Champollion… 🙂

      1. I agree Christine, in fact the need for commas struck me when I was trying to transcribe my French text on bodybuilding where many commas from the original text are really necessary to clarify the meaning. If I was writing it for myself I obviously wouldn't have needed them, but I felt the transcription would be pretty obscure to whomever had not read the original version… I actually added semicolons to replace the commas for ease of reading but this is not an ideal solution.

    2. LVW thank you for this suggestion. I understand there is no right or wrong solution as long as it works, but your double-comma so far is my favorite! I will start using it right away. Thanks.

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