French DJS technical questions


I’m trying to summarize the theory behind choosing right or left S, and it is hellish, because not only are there lots of variables to consider, but also the rules conflict each other and an order of priority has to be determined. To avoid reinventing the wheel, I’d like to know two things.

1/Are the rules for right/left S consistent across all series?

2/Has a flow chart or “decision tree” ever been made for this? Because that’s what I’d like to (try to) do.


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  1. 1. Yes.

    2. I don't think a decision tree has been made, but the rules are pretty consistent:

    — Beginning/Ending of words: (a) s with curves: use the one with the same direction as the curve so that it creates uniform movement, (b) s with lines T, D, N, and M: use the one that makes a sharp angle, and (c) s with SH/CH/J: use comma s if the s is the only additional consonant. Intervening circle vowels between the s and the consonants do not affect these rules.

    — Within words: follow the syllable division and use the one that creates the easier joining.

    — Monosyllables with circle vowels and words that start with so- : use the s comma.

    — oo-hook + s is written without an angle at the beginning of words, or when it follows k, g, or a downward consonant. Otherwise, the s comma is written with an angle.

  2. Hi again,

    Regarding the RE- prefix, I was wondering why the circle is kept before R and L (as in relate), yet merrily omitted in “leur” for example. Is this only in DJS or common to all series?

    Thanks… Going back to writing up my summary table of all DJS rules in the meantime!

      1. Sorry if I wasn’t clear. I don’t understand why a circle is needed between R and L in words such as relate. Since I am assuming this does not bring any clarity, I am also supposing it is due to ease of joining.

        But then if R+L are difficult to join without a circle, there is the counterexample of L+R, which is why I mentioned it. Sorry if it was a bit convoluted.


        May I ask a bonus question: I have just noticed that image is written according to the "J for AGE" principle. But imaginer, imagination, and the like, have an A-circle added to them in both DJS and Sénécal. Would you know why by any chance? I’m pretty sure it’s the same root (latin imago).


        1. The circle in between r and l is kept because there is no speed gain by leaving it out. The way to think about the re- rule is the following: always write the circle except when followed by downward characters because in rapid writing the tendency is to omit the circle when those downward joinings occur. The leur case is different, because that's another rule (-eur).

          The -age applies to the ending, not in the middle of the word — this is done to match the English outline. In English, the -age at the end has a different pronunciation as in -age- in the middle, so the shorthand outline for the same letter combination will change. In French, such difference in pronunciation does not exist. If you decide to leave the circle out always (whether in the middle or at the end), remember there are words like lainage, barrage, and orage which always need the circle because it would mean something different without it.

        2. I don't think that R+L are difficult to join without the circle… It's just 'waves'…

          For 'image' and 'imagination'/'imaginer'… well, you have to distinguish them… and remember which one has the 'A'…

  3. Thank you Carlos.

    I’m not sure whether to leave the circle out always in AJ, because U/OU are already left out before J and I don’t know how many words would share the same outline in such a case (I can at least think of rage and rouge).

  4. However for imagination:

    I don’t really see what other word these outlines could be mistaken for. At least nothing comes to mind. Can you Christine?

    1. Well, in Sénécal, "i-m-a-j' would stand for all the verbal form of 'imaginer' of the present but not for the past and the future.

      And you have the words 'imaginatif', 'imaginable', 'imaginaire'…

      Personally, I don't think about problems until I have to face them: 'À chaque jour suffit sa peine.' 🙂

      1. Interesting… I really wonder what the point is in having the A in "j’imagine" and taking it out in "j’imaginerai". I find that even the I-M-J sequence alone is so distinctive that I really can’t see how you could mix it with anything else.

        1. What do you mean by 'taking it out' the A in 'j'imaginerai'?

          I just said that, in Sénécal, 'i-m-a-j' works for all the verbal forms of the present.

          For 'imaginerai' (certainly not a frequent word), you have to add something… Is it disjoined or not disjoined, that is the question.

          1. Sorry Christine I misread you, when you wrote "but not for the past and future" I assumed that the difference lay in the absence of the A in those two tenses, as opposed to the other tenses where A would be included.

            So what really happens is that the A is absent from "image" but in all other words including verbs based on image, the A is reintroduced. Right?

            1. Yes. Image is the only one without the a because it ends in the suffix -age, which is expressed by j. Anything else has the a. Compris? smiley

              I know, it can be confusing.

              1. Compris merci 🙂 and I have to say I really don’t like this rule, to me there is a problem with it.

                -Saccager doesn’t have the A, but dégager does.

                -Image doesn’t have it because it’s the suffix -age

                – But imaginer does, because "ag" being inside the word, it’s not considered a suffix anymore

                – Yet Déménagement doesn’t because it’s suddenly considered a suffix again even though it’s in the middle of the word.

                To me it looks like a complete mess :/ Of course one could argue that in déménagement, -ment is just another suffix added after -age, but then why not say the same about imagination? I think part of the problem might be that the -age in image was never a suffix in the first place… it belongs to the root.
                The apparent lack (I’m saying apparent because I stand to be corrected of course) of consistency, plus the overlap with the ouj/uge rule, and the overreliance on etymology that even the authors are not fluent in, let alone the students, all of this is a bit much. Please no one take this personally, I’m addressing this complaint to Sénécal and SME alone. Sorry for the rant!

                1. Are you working for the European Parliament? You love rules… 🙂

                  Well, I don't have a dictionary like you so, I have to make decisions to make words, so it's not like I don't care about 'rules' but once you're used to associate a form with a word, you don't care anymore about the form has been made.

                  It's like longhand words, you don't read them letter by letter and you don't care about all the 'bizarreries' of the French language.


                  1. But that’s exactly what bothers me. I really don’t want to feel like I’m going through the bitter experience of learning the intricacies of French spelling with all its annoying exceptions. So with Gregg, I don’t want to have to learn by rote, on top of the brief forms, other words that are supposed to obey specific rules.

                    I’m hoping for a clear and crisp system that bears very few exceptions, if any, and with a degree of consistency approaching 100%, because if natural languages can afford a few quirks accounted for by the vagaries of time, Gregg shorthand can’t. I’m hoping no less of a system I’ve so far probably put hundreds of hours into studying. I know I sound like a disgruntled client in a store, but I don’t care 🙂

                    1. To be efficient in shorthand, you have to read a lot.

                      Think about all the books, the texts you have read in French since you were born. How many time do you have read a common word? Thousands times. A rare word? Hundred times. Habit erases hesitation.

                      Exceptions in shorthand are probably there for the same reasons they are in a regular language: they are the result of history and the reasons have been lost in time. (And I'm sure there are fewer of them in shorthand…)

                      Why don't you give a try in Esperanto? It should appeal you: logical, no exceptions… There is even a Esperanto Gregg… 🙂

  5. @Christine, reading back what I wrote last night, I feel a bit silly, I think I just spent too much time on it these last few days and got tired and frustrated 🙂 Even if I still stick to my point, I didn’t have to make such a fuss about it…

    Something I’m not sure I’ve ever specified is that I’m learning shorthand for work (actually I think I may have explained this on the French forum where we first ’met’). I probably would never have invested so much energy into it if it was just a hobby. But now it’s both! Once I truly get the hang of Gregg, I hope I can make a personal version of Gregg that would be as clean and regular a system as Esperanto is…

    The big plus side of Gregg is that unlike languages, you don’t have to accept inconsistencies because "that’s the way people talk, that’s how the language has evolved". You can modify it… if you know what you’re doing. And I still don’t and that’s what’s slightly frustrating. But one day I will 🙂


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