Question about Notehand “R”


I’m learning Notehand and there are some things they simply don’t explain. One of these is the subtleties of “er”. In some cases, they’ll write the sound as a “e-loop, r-curve”, other times just the “r-curve”. It seems like it’s usually just the r but not always… I haven’t been able to figure out the pattern yet. Does anyone know or have any ideas?


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  1. In general, -er is written by just writing r when it has the schwa sound because it follows the "obscure vowel" rule, except when it is preceded by sh-, ch-, j-, or left s, where the e is inserted to facilitate writing, and in the ending -fer (except the ending -ffer, because it’s unstressed). For example:

    observer: o – b – left s – e – r – v – r (e inserted between the left s and the r)

    usher: oo-hook – sh – e – r (e inserted between sh and the r)

    teacher: t – e – ch – e – r (e inserted between ch and the r)

    badger: b – a – j – e – r (e inserted between j and r)

    confer: k – f – e – r (-fer ending)

    offer: o – f – r (no e).

    When the e is sounded, the e is written, for example: "fern", "ferry", "verge", "berry", "peril."

    1. I think when the -fer ending is unstressed, the e is left out.  "Offer", "coffer", "proffer" are all written without the e.  

      When the -fer ending is stressed, the e is written.  "Confer", "prefer", "refer", and "defer" are all written with the e.  


      1. Yes, I added this point to my answer: -ffer is always written f – r because the r is unstressed. However, in "transfer" where the e is unstressed, the e is written, so this is an exception to the unstressed vowel rule.

            1. Not only UK.  Merriam-Webster actually gives the accented second syllable as the first option.  And in my Midwest US English, I actually use both forms.  Usually a "wire transfer" has an accented first syllable, and "I'm going to transfer this material to a new location" has an accented second syllable.  But I'm not 100% consistent with that distinction.  


          1. "Transfer" is stressed on the first syllable when it is a noun and on the second when it is a verb. It is not unique in this way. Many two-syllable English words that can be used as either nouns or verbs exhibit this pattern, with the nouns stressed on the first syllable and the verbs on the second. Some examples besides "transfer" are: address, contrast, insult, permit, progress rebel, suspect.

            Of course, both members of most of these pairs are written the same way in Gregg, just as they are in ordinary spelling; there's no rule to distinguish them. But with "transfer", there are two things going on: First, the noun and verb are subject to different spelling rules in Gregg because of the difference in accent. So if they are to be written uniformly, one rule must give way. Second, the only syllable written in full is "-fer", since "trans-" is a disconnected prefix. This suggests that keeping the e is a better approach than discarding it.

    2. Thanks, Carlos! I didn’t get a chance to really look at your comment (or anyone of the other nice people who took the time to contribute!), due to schoolwork – finishing up my thesis!

      I’m not sure I totally get it, so just to be clear: the examples you provided were to illustrate the obscure vowel rule? Of these examples you gave, only offer and observer (the second e) have omitted “e”s because they do not follow ch, left s, sh or j, correct?

  2. I disentangle it with an "imagined American" accent; for example, my English ear wouldn't put an e in "hurry" (rhyming, perhaps, with "furry"), but it's fine. It also helps that America pronounces more 'r's.

    1. But wouldn’t “hurry” be written as h-e-r-ee”?

      Unfortunately for me, an imaginary American accent doesn’t always work for me haha, I’m Canadian from Quebec, a form of English which cobbles together aspects of American and British English as well as French. This makes matching my pronunciation with that of an American system based on somewhat obsolete speaking patterns particularly hard!

      1. Both “hurry” and “furry” are written with the oo-hook in Anniversary and earlier series. Louis Leslie changed that starting with the Simplified series to make it easier to write by having the e represent that obscure vowel sound.

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