Spanish shorthand question

I’m using Taquigrafía Gregg Simplificada but am encountering a small problem. I learned Spanish while living in a part of Spain where the “ce” consonant-vowel combination, e.g. hacer, is pronounced “th,” rather than “s.” This is proving extremely awkward trying to learn a shorthand system which assumes the “s” sound.

Does anyone know if there’s a different system that was used in Spain back during the shorthand heyday?

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  1. There were many shorthand systems used in Spanish, in addition to Gregg (Martí, Garriga, Pitman, etc). However, I'm not sure I understand what is your issue with s/c/z and the Northern Spain accent. What do you find awkward?

    1. The Gregg outline does not correspond with how these  particular words sound in my head.  So, for example, if I read the outlines for sol, seda, and ese, from Leccion I, I'm good. But when I try to read zorra, hazaña or plaza, I experience a mental ¨rebound,¨a rejection of the outline. 

  2. Then just retrain your brain by putting the little dash mark perpendicular to the s while you get used to it (paragraph 56 of the Spanish Gregg Simplified manual). Eventually, you’ll see that the mark is not needed much.

    The distinction between s and z/c occurs only in Northern Spain (Castillian Accent). In Southern Spain and the Canary Islands, there is no distinction. Also, since the New World settlers came from Southern Spain (with a stop in the Canary Islands before sailing to the Western Hemisphere), in Latin America there is no distinction between the 3 orthographies either: this phenomenon is called seseo. So normally, there is no need to make the positive distinctions in shorthand either, because by context we would know the correct word and the correct spelling.

    Incidentally, in Old Spanish, there were like 5 or 6 different s sounds. In the 16th century, they started to coalesce into what is heard today, but both regions of Spain differed into how these sounds coalesced. So it is not that the Castillian Accent is the original and the rest are derivatives: both the Castillian and the Andalusian (Southern) accents in Spain developed at the same time.

    1. I lived in Aragon, had never studied Spanish in high school before making that relocation (my first foreign language was actually Chinese). The northern accent is the only thing I knew for a long time. It's also what is dominant in the programs broadcast by Television Española. Eventually I did some travel in southern Spain, and also met Spanish-speaking individuals from Argentina, Cuba, etc so by the time 10 years later I moved back to the United States I'd had some exposure to other styles of pronunciation. I don't judge other styles or think they're inferior. I've never had the least problem with this in spoken Spanish. It's only now that I'm seeking to learn a new way of writing Spanish – one that is supposed to be based on sound – that it's become an issue.

      I didn't know the New World settlers came from southern Spain and thus explains the type of accent which prevails in Latin American countries. Interesting!

      Honestly, I wish I could learn to use the southern accent. The northern c/z in certain combinations is very difficult for me to pronounce without sounding like I'm eating at the same time I'm talking, hehe.

      1. Oh, no, I didn't mean that one is inferior to the other, only that some people may think that the Northern accent is the original accent (or more pure), which is not true at all. Both accents developed at the same time.

        Change the c/z to s and use ustedes instead of vosotros, and you'll be speaking, for the most part, the Southern accent — there are other minor differences, but for the most part those two are the biggest ones.

        The Catholic Monarchs (Isabella of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon) paid for the trips to the New World, but the ships, the crew, and the port were in Southern Spain. Columbus sailed from Palos and other trips sailed from the Port of Seville.

  3. Hi Laura:

    In addition to what Carlos has explained, I would like to say that even Marti's shorthand doesn't have a different sign for Z (C) and S sounds, and Francisco de Paula Marti was a Spaniard (a native Spanish speaker).

    As mentioned, a little dash mark can help to distinguish similar words like "cazar" (to hunt) and "casar" (to marry). I don't use it, because context is all in transcription.

    Anyway, if you feel better with the "ith" sign for Z(C) sound, you could apply it, but you will have to find another sign for Y(LL) sound as in "llave" (key) or "yema" (yolk)… could it be something taken from English Gregg Shorthand (see "yolk" for example), or an L sign with a little dash beneath it.

    Therefore, there are native Spanish people that can pronounce distinctively "LL" and "Y" sounds :O that's another story.

    Good luck!!!


    Osvaldo Castro G.


    1. Hi Osvaldo!

      Thank you for chiming in.

      The Spanish ll sound, represented by the English "ith" mark, is proving awkward for me as well!, precisely because I have the urge to spell out the given word as starting with a "th" sound.

      I've considered custom tweaks, but then I face the reality that none of the available materials will use them, and without reading material to work with, I can't get very far. 

      I think I'll try incorporating the little dash and see if that helps. 

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