This page will feature some words and phrases written in Pitman Shorthand, selected for their aesthetic qualities. Anyone can suggest a Pitman outline and I will do my best to draw it and post it. We may not know much about art -- but we know what we like...
AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
The cruel business world tends to want things as soon as possible. This Pitman phrase is designed to be written "ASAP". It is made from the large circle at the beginning (SS, or more properly SW at the start of words), followed by N, circle-S, P, and finally another S at the end, making "aS SooN aS PoSsible." It is written in a smooth consistently counter-clockwise motion with three quick shakes of the hand..
VERY TRULY YOURS
This somewhat archaic letter closing was one of many standard business letter phrases designed to be quick squiggles made by secretaries taking dictation. It is made up of a VR-hook (in the reversed position), a TR-hook, then an L which smoothly flows into a curve-R with a circle-S at the end, making "VeRy TRuLy youRS." It has a pleasing "cascade" look.
More to come. Reader suggestions to add more of the "interesting" outlines are welcome.
FUN WITH PITMAN (This section has been moved from the "More Details on the System" page)
Here is a specimen of Pitman Shorthand from the Encarta on-line encyclopedia:
CIVILIZATION (or CIVILISATION)
This is a word not to be taken for granted any more. At the risk of turning this place into a political page, Sept. 11th has shown us that the job of spreading civilization is not yet done. This compact stroke is made up of a tiny embedded S in the large L-hook of a letter V (you actually have to think of drawing the L-hook before the V, unlike the order of the consonants), and closed with an s-shun loop to suggest the sounds sVLsshun.
First, a look at this fellow...
"Seated Egyptian Scribe", 4th or 5th Egyptian dynasty, in the Louvre Museum, Paris. This stenographer had it tough. Although he was a respected court member of princely rank (no mere office-worker), entrusted to take down the sacred words of the Pharaoh on the fly, his materials were not the best, and his language was written in hieroglyphics.
His leather kilt would stretch tightly and form a handy triangular desk as he sat cross-legged. But his writing implement was a brush tied to a long thin inkwell tied in turn to an inkstone, capable of maybe only 10 outlines before having to re-dip. Worst of all, hieroglyphics were complex-looking but each produced only one sound or syllable. In practice, he and his colleagues developed a writing system of simplified shapes for the hieroglyphics, called demotic, and combined with an indulgent Pharaoh speaking in a slow, stately voice, he got by, sometimes with a little help from his scribe friends acting in a relay fashion.
To see samples of the different kinds of Egyptian scripts, including their early form of "shorthand", click on this link, where a master scribe explains to a child that there is formal writing for important or religious documents or to be carved in monuments, and "quick" writing for everyday use. In practice, the scribes would use demotic to take down words on the fly, and transcribe them back into hieroglyphs, perhaps in illuminated parchments. It simply didn't do to leave the Pharaoh's words in demotic...
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