ang- / eng- in French DJS


Today I was surprised to discover that words like anglais, angoisse, angle are all written with the slanted N.

Yet engager, engraisser, etc. are written with N-G.

Why? This is one and the same phonetic syllable.


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7 comments Add yours
  1. Because of ethymology. Words where the origin is en + verb retain the en-, for example engager and engraisser (coming from en + gager and en + graisser, mettre en gage and rendre gras, respectively). Anglais and angoisse do not have that meaning. I cannot think of any word in French starting with eng- (or ing- for that matter) that is written with the ng blend. By the way, in English, most words with eng- or ing- do not use the blend at the beginning of the word (other than the word "English", its derivatives and similar sounding last names, for example "England", "Engelland", "Engel", etc., and words like "ingot", "ingle", and its derivatives).

    Gregg Shorthand is not 100% phonetic.

  2. Thank you Carlos. I’m a bit puzzled because the DJS dictionary only contains exactly 20 words starting with -ang, the majority of which are derivatives of "anglais" like in… English, and very seldom used in French (anglomane, anglophobe, etc. I’ve personally never read nor heard the word anglomane in my whole life). A quick look at (which gives you lists of all the French words containing any sequence of letters of your choice) gives a rather limited number of other words with -ang- inside. So why bother with a new shape if the syllable it stands for is not that common?

    Also, do we know why exactly it was decided not to use it for prefix en+g? Is there a specific obstacle to such use?


    1. Most of the use of the ng and nk strokes is in the middle or end of words, not at the beginning. For example, in English, there are many words that have an ng/nk endings. In French, however, the g in those words is not pronounced, so you end up not having to using the ng stroke (for the ending), whereas the k in nk is always pronounced. Moreover, in the middle of a word, if the ng is followed by e or i, it has the j sound in French, so no need to use it there either. I think that is what is confusing you. In the early Gregg Shorthand manuals, Dr. Gregg advised that "the use of these signs is extremely limited." In French, it is even more limited.

      About en- + g, give me an example of a word with that combination that you think can be written with the ng stroke. The majority of the ones I know fall in the category of en- + verb, which for legibility sake and to preserve the root form of the original word, the en is written separately.

  3. Thanks again Carlos.

    Did Dr. Gregg explain why he came up with those signs if their use is extremely limited?

    Regarding en- + g, I didn’t mean that I found a word that would meet the criteria of not being made up of the en- prefix. I meant that I don’t understand why the use of the slanted N should be limited to words not starting with the en- prefix. That’s one of the questions I was meaning to ask you.

    I actually realized all this when attempting to write « enquêter ». I happily wrote it : slanted-N+e-circle+T+e-circle until I noticed the dictionary said otherwise. Why (from a practical perspective) ?

    I hope I don’t sound too annoying asking all those questions. It’s just that I absolutely can’t write fast enough to be able to tell by myself what kind of outlines or stroke combinations can realistically be expected to be written successfully at high speed, and what other combinations cannot. This is why I feel the need to understand the rationale underlying those apparently arbitrary decisions by the authors.

    Thanks again.

    1. In the first edition manual (Liverpool, 1888), ng was expressed by the long horizontal line of the men blend, and nk was expressed by the ng sign (the lowered n). For example, the word "English" would be e-men blend-l-e-sh. The men blend did not exist, so a word like "eminent" would be written in full: e-m-e-n-e-nt blend. In "The Basic Principles of Gregg Shorthand", Dr. Gregg didn't explain why he used the lowered n for nk in the first place, but wrote that since the men/mem combination was so common, it was natural to reassign the long horizontal character to that blend instead. By default, he then assigned the lowered n to ng, and created a new lengthened ng character for the nk.

      The questions that you're asking are totally normal for a student that has just finished the basic manual. I say that it is in the second shorthand course when the student really learns to write, because the student needs to apply what has learned. Since the student is beginning to acquire more vocabulary, it is not expected that the writing speed would be fast — faster than longhand, yes, but not speedy, because the creation of outlines is not automatic yet (it's normal hesitation). At this stage, concentrate on acquiring vocabulary, reviewing theory, and reading lots of shorthand. Come up with more words that illustrate the principles you learned. Verify with the dictionary like you're doing. And most importantly, don't be too hard on yourself: you're still learning!

  4. I have considerable sympathy for Aymeric's question. After all, Gregg shorthand isn't really committed to following etymologies and separating prefixes from roots. For instance, consider incl- in English. Only a few words begin with incl-, and none of them has it as a prefix. Instead, the prefix is in-, and cl- is part of the Latin root: e.g. incline, include, inclement, inclose. But Gregg uses the incl- circle for the first three of these words, and fails to use it for inclose. Pitman follows the etymology and splits the words accordingly, e.g. in-clement instead of Gregg's incl-ement.

    1. Actually, incl- was introduced in the July 1910 issue of The Gregg Writer as a new prefix, and was later added in the 1916 New and Revised Edition. Before that, words with incl- were written following the ethymology (with the exception of "inclose", which was the brief form n-k). As to why it the disjoined prefix was added, the article didn’t mention anything.

      Incidentally, even though DJS and S90 removed the prefix, it reappeared in Centennial in the words "include" (also in the -ing form, the s form, and past tense), and "inclusion", but strangely enough not in "inclusive", which is written with the in- prefix instead. They considered "include" a brief form. Oh well.

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