Writing out numerals

When spelling out numerals, for example “thirteen” or “fifteen”, how should I write the “teen”? Like a convex “tin” or “den”? Or looped like “team”?

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  1. Numbers are written as numerals, not as words, except for the numbers one, two, three, and four.  There are additional abbreviating devices such as for hundred, hundred dollars, thousand, etc.

    If a number needed to be spelled out, I put a wavy line under it.  (Yes, I actually took dictation way back when.)

  2. The "teen" is written without the blend, because it's a strong vowel (long e). However, most of the time, numbers greater than 10 are written as numbers, and numbers from 0 to 10 can be written either way: use whatever is quicker and distinct. There are exceptions to these general rules, depending on whether you can phrase, or use special abbreviations, or if you're talking about approximate quantities (tens, thousands, hundreds, millions, etc.), or if you are referring to currency, or numbers + units, as Marc pointed out.

    1. Okay, I get the optional numbers part, but then how does one spell "teen" as in "teenager" or simply as "teen"? I have several Diamond Jubilee books and a Diamond Jubilee dictionary 2nd Ed but I can't find the words "teen" or "teenager" anywhere. If I can spell "teen", then I could spell "thirteen" when i wish.

      You say without the blend, but I'm not sure what blend means. Does that mean one should spell "teen" looped like "team"?

      Thx in advance.

      1. Well, I take that back. Apparently, in Simplified and later, they are blending the ending “-teen”, in spite of being a strong vowel, meaning that it is written with the curve. See the word "canteen":

        In Anniversary, -teen is written with the angle.

        Interestingly, the word “routine” retains the angle:

        I hope this helps.

        1. Well, that about explains everything. I have already been writing "teen" with a long curve, or blend. If I had looked up canteen, that would have answered my question from the start.

          For some it may not make sense to write out numbers when writing the numeral is quicker. I don't write shorthand for speed, but for elegance and brevity.

          I still plan to put out a shorthand version of one of my novels on Amazon eventually, even if no one reads it. With that in mind, I'm still waiting for Microsoft, or someone, to issue a Gregg keyboard program so I could type it out. A shorthand book is infeasible until that appears.

          1. Over the years there have been a few people in the Facebook Gregg group who have indicated they're working on some kind of keyboard or computer approach to writing Gregg.  I've never seen anything come from any of it.  The few examples I've seen of computer generated Gregg outlines are so far from the norm that they often don't even look like Gregg.

            The problem, in my opinion, is that shorthand by definition is written by hand.  Once you take that out of the equation, there's no reason for it to even exist.  

            Then there's the factor of the huge variety of joins and combinations in the system.  "Inside curves and outside angles, except sometimes."  

            And which version of Gregg would be a possible basis for a computer generated method?  

            There are several works of literature in Gregg, "Alice in Wonderland", for instance, and a series of American classics.  They were all done by hand.  And both the Bible and Book of Common Prayer were published in Pitman.  

            1. All of your objections to a program version of Gregg also apply to Arabic and Hebrew. Arabic was always written by hand and printing presses were resisted violently in the Islamic world until the 19th century. There are several Microsoft keyboard versions of local Arabic including Saudi, Egyptian and a couple of others. While there is a keyboard version of Classical Arabic, it was forced to jettison centuries of imprecision, ambiguity, and localized development. Arabic was never intended to be standardized except for of course the words in the Quran, some of which remain obscure even today.

              Arabic is written right to left, like Turkish and Farsi. Arabic has loops, letters that change depending on where they occur in a sentence. Yet despite all this they have managed to standardize the written language and program a keyboard.

              Given the complexity of something like Arabic, I don't see why Gregg could not be similarly standardized and made into a keyboard program. Or several versions of it.

              1. The difference, of course, is that both Arabic and Hebrew are actively used modern languages with many speakers who need the ability to write and process texts electronically.  

                Gregg Shorthand, on the other hand, is a scarcely known system of shorthand, which in itself, at least in the US, is not anything most people have any awareness of.  

                I'm really not aware of any kind of keyboard system for producing shorthand (except for alphabetic systems like Speedwriting, which was designed to be functional with a typewriter).  

                Zaner-Bloser used to have a program to produce good curseive handwriting using the keyboard.  I don't think it's available any more.  But structuring something like that is far simpler than structuring a program for a phonetic cursive shorthand system.  

                1. Hey Lee, I know there's not a ton of interest in what I'm doing out here. I'm cool with that. I did, however, want to say making Gregg show up on screen is really a matter of ligatures. It's easy enough to make consonants and vowels each start where the last left off, but the beauty comes from defining all the significant ligatures. It's a tedious job, but not difficult. It can be done in a true font or using custom art, like I chose to do. I agree with you it's a rare enough interest it's not likely to happen, but I would shy away from saying it's difficult. 

            2. Hello, Lee. 

              Do you have pointers to any of those keyboard Gregg projects? I was not aware any other than mine existed. I'd be curious to see what other approaches were attempted. 

              As for mine, I've been using it for 2-3 years now, so guess I'm happy enough with it. It's shot full of shortcomings, but it speeds my typing 30% or more and keeps me playing. 


                1. The important issue here is the appearance of the shorthand in the textbooks. Because Gregg was printed from handwritten copy in all the texts, the student was able to see what the outlines really looked like when written by an expert writer. But Pitman was typeset all the way along, even in the late 20th century. So the actual appearance of handwritten outlines was not apparent from the textbooks.

                  Even extremely carefully written shorthand (such as you will find on Beryl Pratt's website, for example) differs clearly from the typeset shorthand of the textbooks. Consideration of the difference is the subject of several articles in the old Pitman magazines; but these magazines were mainly for professional writers, not beginning students.

                  1. I don't believe any Pitman texts were "typeset".  

                    Reproducing written material from engraved plates, which were made from handwritten originals, was a normal printing method prior to lithography and photoprocessing.  

                    Most of the 19th century handwriting books were produced by engraving.  But in no way were they "typeset".  

                    If you have documentation or information about typesetting Pitman (or any shorthand system, other than purely alphabetic ones like Speedwriting) that would be interesting to see.  

                  2. Okay, I'll retract the word "typesetting", though it is used even now to refer to digital printing techniques in which, naturally, no type is set. My understanding is that Pitman was engraved very precisely, with punches and the like, while Gregg was photoengraved from handwritten sheets.

                  3. It's only a few minutes since my last post, but I'm unretracting the word "typeset". I've just researched this issue. Pitman shorthand was indeed typeset after about 1870. (Previously, traditional engraving, lithography and woodblock printing were employed.) Pitman himself seems to have been the inventor of the typesetting method for shorthand. Outlines were engraved onto blanks that could be fitted into a line of type, and were put into the printer's cases in a sort of dictionary order (somewhat like how Chinese typesetting was done). The pages were typeset, stereotyped and printed in the usual way.

                    1. Pitman is much older/earlier than Gregg, and the early texts were engraved, as were all materials in the early 19th century that attempted to reproduce handwrittten originals.  

                      I personally don't think Pitman was ever typeset in the way you describe, although I'm more than happy to withhold judgment until I see your sources and documentation.  

                      Interestingly, the last published edition of Gregg (Centennial) was produced sort of in that fashion, but by photography.  By that time there were no remaining writers able to produce the amount of shorthand material required, so the editors photocopied earlier materials and put the new texts together outline by outline.  That accounts for the inelegance that's immediately apparent in all the Centennial books.  

          2. I see I have missed the point in my quick skim. You don't want a system with which you can type full words using Gregg abbreviations. You want a system by which you can enter something and output outlines. 

            The outline portion of my little widget got a good foundation, then I stopped. I have a handful of quality outlines and armloads of ugly/wrong ones. The system, however, is redeemable. Take a word like accurate. My outline for accurate is accurate, but that second "A" is offensive to the eye. It needs to begin by flowing from the R then looping back over the top to join back to the R again. That would take me about 5 minutes to fix, and it would fix it for all instances of A after R. 

            I got too busy to keep investing 5 minutes at a time on those fixes. I frankly find aesthetic work difficult and tiring, so I tend to create ugly things that work pretty well. 

            The system could do what you want. If the art were right, it could output valid SVG graphics of any arbitrary size and density. What's more, the data are reasonably portable. If you'd rather this work in a web browser, the data could be accessed directly by JavaScript and put to work pretty easily. Right now, the outlines scroll up and off my system, but it was not that long ago I was outputting printable pages of outlines. That could be made to happen again. 

            So, if you want to make use of the code or the data, please make yourself right at home. I would ask that if you improve the data, please share back. 🙂

              1. I have been using the product for a couple years now, and it's sad to me that it still has so many weaknesses. I find it hugely profitable as-is in terms of my personal typing speed and I do even look at the outlines it generates as reminders of what the outline for a word should be, but it's weak. 

                The process for making an outline pretty is learnable. It mostly requires a knowledge of graphing (SVG lives by x,y coordinates) and patience. I've already created an interface for the editing, but it requires the person to be able to know x,y graphing. You have to say 8,-3 to widen a shape 8 to the right and 3 further up. I would be happy to guide anyone along through the technical business of understanding that math, if they were excited enough about it to do the finicky work. 

                If you know of someone interested, they would have to spend 1 hour to learn the editing process, then maybe 8 hours to pretty-up enough outlines that the product was not instantly repulsive. Right now, I have 225 shapes defined. Some of those should be made prettier, and some should be added (like a new shape for R-A, instead of just sticking a generic A at the end of the R). It's really not hard to do, but it takes time.

                If you know of someone who wants to create these shapes, I would agree to create a way for any person to use it to create pages of output by just typing the words. 

      2. The Diamond Jubilee Dictionary elegantly solves the problem by not including "teen" or "teenager".  

        Series 90 and Centennial followed suit.  No such entry in the dictionaries.  

        This kind of makes me chuckle, because I think the whole shorthand division of McGraw-Hill was being more and more marginalized, and managed by people who represented an earlier era that was rapidly disappearing.  

        I don't fault any of them for that.  But why would any of them have felt any reason to think that "teenager" was an important concept to include?  It wasn't part of business correspondence in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.  

        It's kind of like the fact that the phrase "I love you" doesn't appear in any Gregg/McGraw-Hill shorthand publications (at least I haven't found it anywhere).  



        1. There are quite a few common words that are missing from the dictionary. Although I agree with you — the idea of using shorthand for general writing (as opposed to business correspondence) was long gone in the 60s, so there was very little incentive in adding words. 

          As a general observation, in comparison to the Pitman Shorthand dictionaries, which contain around 60,000 entries and the Ben Pitman Phonographic Dictionary, which has about 120,000 entries, the Gregg Shorthand dictionaries pale in comparison, with the Series 90 having the most words, at a little over 33,000. Maybe the powers that be thought that 33,000 was good enough.

        2. It strikes me as odd that "teenager" wasn't included in the DJ dictionary. The word was in vogue during the 1950s and 1960s, and companies were rushing to profit from the exploding youth market. I'd think it would have come up rather frequently in meeting notes and business correspondence.

  3. In the mid-to-late 1980s, McGraw-Hill did come out with a computer version of Gregg Shorthand.  That might be the type of thing Glenn is looking for.  As I recall, it utilized 5-inch floppy disks.  I had a copy of it, and we were considering it for classroom instruction but never did use it.  I think, at the time, McGraw-Hill knew that manual Gregg shorthand was on the way out and that the computer version might catch on; of course, it never did.  Shortly after this, McGraw-Hill obtained the rights to the alphabetic shorthand system known as Speedwriting, which was taught for a few years in the schools; but it, too, was eliminated by the mid-1990s.

    A very useful abbreviating device used in writing number that I use (when the occasion presents itself) is for numbers with a difference of one (e.g., 5 or 6; 9 or 10; etc.).   This is to attach a forward straight line to the first numeral.  This advanced word-building principle was presented in the Expert Speed Building books, anniversary through series 90.

  4. In reply to Lee, about setting Pitman shorthand from engraved movable type: This is described in the biographies of Pitman by Thomas Allen Reed and Alfred Edwin Baker.

      1. I too have the Baker book, both in physical form and digitally. (Ditto Benn Pitman's biography, but I don't think it mentions the shorthand type.) I only have a digital copy of Reed.

        Carlos is right about the Baker reference. In Reed, see Chapter IX on page 119.

        Both give an example of typeset shorthand—the same example. But apparently the system was used extensively.

        1. I stand partially corrected.  The description in the Baker book is fascinating.  It would be interesting to hear from a Pitman scholar about the extent to which the process was actually used.

          However, it's not exactly a process of creating a shorthand text by typesetting in the usual sense (i.e., combining the shorthand symbols to make words and then connected text).  As described, it's actually an early version of "cut and paste", with each complete word being written by hand, then engraved in metal, then assembling all those complete words.  

          To make that work, there must have been trays of thousands of individual words, all originally written by hand in the same size, scale, and format.  I suspect once it was possible to reproduce a written shorthand text with a process like lithography or photography, 

          I could create a Gregg text that way today by going to an online soure, or by scanning the Gregg dictionary, and then cutting and pasting all the individual complete words to make a complete text.  However, that would hardly be "writing Gregg shorthand by computer".  And it would be far less efficient than just writing the material out by hand, then scanning and reproducing it.  

          This process, if I understand correctly, is exactly what was used to create the Centennial materials.  Because there were no longer expert writers at McGraw-Hill, words and sentences were copied and pasted from earlier publications.  It's why the Centennial books have shorthand models that lack the precision and elegance of everything that came before.  

        2. I think we’re stumbling into a gray area here. What is the real distinction between typesetting and “cut and paste”? Usually the compositing of lead type would be called typesetting, whether there are fewer than 100 symbols, as in English, or several thousand, as in Chinese or Gregg. In all cases, the type has to first be designed, then engraved, and finally reproduced from blanks. 

          Compositing pieces of paper and then photographing them is “cut and paste”, even when the pieces are identical, as are the pieces of lead type. The processes are similar in a way, especially if the lead is cast with a Linotype machine.

          As for compositing on computer, most people refer to that as typesetting, even though there is no physical type to set. You refer to cutting and pasting digitally; what if you did that and imported your images to a font (whether of the standard kind as per Adobe or Apple, or one of your own invention)? I would call the use of such a font digital typesetting.

          The facts that the Gregg Centennial books were poorly done and that compositing lead type is inefficient when there are too many symbols, do not address the question of whether Chinese or Pitman has been typeset.

          I do believe the Gregg approach of photographing handwritten shorthand is superior to what has been done in Pitman books, whether typeset, engraved, or lithographed. Not only is the process much more efficient, but it also gives a clear view of what good handwritten shorthand looks like, which the more painstaking approaches used in Pitman books do not.

          1. Yes.  

            If I walked into an old-fashioned print shop (they don't really exist any more) and asked for a manuscript to be typeset, I'd expect them to do so by composing words from individual letters, and blocks of texts from those words.  

            If they showed the thousands of trays of complete words that had been written by hand, then engraved in metal, that they were going to put together to produce my manuscript, I'd think that was weird and go somewhere else.  

            I think this whole discussion stemmed from dialogue about whether it's possible to create a program to "type" Gregg shorthand by computer.  And I think the answer to that is "no".  The Gregg symbols are fluid, they modify depending on what comes before and after, and even placement of outlines varies somewhat depending on context (think about adjusting spacing to avoid tangling up long descending or ascending outlines).  

            Is it possible to sit at a computer and laboriously put together a text in Gregg shorthand without writing anything?  Yes.  Find pictures of complete words and paste them together.  Is there any way to make that practical and efficient and more or less automatic?  I personally don't think so.  

            The discussion also leaves me with my basic question, why would anyone want to learn shorthand and then not write it by hand?  What is the possible goal or reason for that?  Shorthand by its fundamental nature is inteded to be written fast by hand.  

            Another interesting question, that I don't ever remember seeing anything about, is whether Dr. Gregg or the Gregg company ever talked about "typesetting" their material.  I don't think so, since through Series 90 every text I know of indicates who the expert writer was.  The attempt to do something like that with Centennial was more of a dying gasp than a creative effort.  

  5. > I think this whole discussion stemmed from dialogue about whether it's possible to create a program to "type" Gregg shorthand by computer.  And I think the answer to that is "no"

    This is wrong. It’s tedious and highly technical, so it’s not possible for a normal user, but it’s not hard using any system that handles ligatures. It’s ugly without ligatures, but they are a thing now, so any font handling program can create flowing outlines on the fly. 

    1. It's not simply a matter of ligatures.  It's a matter of the fluid construction of outlines, in which all the parts depend on the surrounding parts.  

      I'd be fascinated to see if someone can come up with a way to do it.  Various people over the years have said they're "working on something", but nothing has ever appeared.  

      You also have to incorporate the idea of phrasing.  "I have not been going" is very different from "I have not been able", for example.  

      But again, since shorthand is designed for writing fast by hand, what would the goal or purpose be?

      1. I routinely type at a natural 75 wpm, but because I’ve taught my computer to speak Gregg I produce output (of English and Gregg at the same time) of 120 wpm. To me, this seems valuable and it brings me a ton of pleasure. I type 2-5 thousand words per day, so it also increases my work capacity. 

          1. I don't know how, on this platform, to upload the image. I think I would need to post it somewhere else. I can do that sometime in the next couple days, but work demands I stop for the night. 

          2. Screenshots are hard but YouTube videos are easy, I guess? 

            This is an 11 minute video showing the "Dashboard" on the right hand side of my screen. It has Gregg outlines. You will see them pop up as I type during the video. At the 3 minute point, you will see me improve a simple ligature making one of my uglier outlines passable. It's all on the fly, a first pass with no practice and no editing, so I don't end up with a beautiful product. 

            Later in the video I show both phrases you mentioned and update the a-v ligature to make them not insanely ugly. Again, not yet perfect. 

            The Dashboard is only one way I can show the Gregg output. I have, in the past, had a "GreggPad", with a standard Gregg Notepad background and about 50 outlines per page. The outlines can be output to very flexible formats. 

      2. You are correct that full, dynamic phrasing would be a challenge. I have not taken that on. All my phrases need to be predefined. Writing the outline in ligatures, though, is a solved problem. 

  6. Ok. I figured out how to solve dynamics, but only for direct output. That would actually be easy, even though it would not help me at all. 

    And for what it’s worth, what I’m hoping for in staying at this is hoping someday you’ll send people with an interest in this impossible thing my way. I just need some help. 

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