Links/Bits and Pieces:
I am still continuing some Web-searches on the topic of Pitman and other shorthands; here are some links I have found. New links added in October 2005. VERY SPECIAL SITES: 1) I did not make enough effort yet to present details of the Pitman system on-line, but a business school in south India has! The Stenographer's Guild, associated with the Guild of Information Technology, offers an on-line Web course on Pitman shorthand, with explanatory audio clips. They claim they can cover the basics with 15 days of study. I have not yet reviewed the course to see how well they have organized practice and the finer points of Pitman, but all the features of Pitman seem to be there.
They are located in Chennai, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. On Dec. 26, 2004, a devastating tsunami swept through the Indian Ocean and Chennai is very close to the coast. Fortunately I am told the institute was not directly harmed, and not flooded, although a part of their city was.
However, they are a non-profit agency interested in teaching office skills. They are interested in soliciting personal donations to be used in the form of endowments, the interest of which would be used to promote prizes and tuition assistance for the poor and disadvantaged of the area, such as widows and "lower-caste" persons. Perhaps with the help of interested readers, I could engage in a long-term project to raise funds and set up such an endowment. I have no experience in that, however.
2)Duncan McKenzie has set up a page called Pitman for Geeks. He goes into more detail than I did about the elements of Pitman Shorthand. He hasn't finished everything yet, but offers a nice graphic of the first page of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol where the shorthand outlines are transcribed if you roll over them with your mouse. 3)Marc Semler presents his Web-page, Shorthand, Shorthand, Shorthand . He favours the Gregg system of shorthand, presents some historical notes about the evolution of Gregg, and an awesome page of tips for practicing any shorthand system. Also included are a few graphics from Gregg, Pitman, and other textbooks. This is great! I felt like I was digging to China and Marc's head popped up in my tunnel, saving me some of the work! What saves him some of his work is that Amazon.com posts the first few pages of a Gregg manual on-line, probably from the "Diamond" (75th anniversary) Edition of Gregg Shorthand. To view, click on this: Gregg Shorthand Manual Simplified. But please come back afterwards!
Another Gregg enthusiast presented an even larger portion of an out-of-print Gregg manual -- and he presented both the original text and a "mirror-writing" version which is of benefit to left-handed persons. [***LINK DOWN! Or hacked, apparently it only produces pornography.] The age-old problem is that a left-to-right language written by a left-hander would cause his hand to cover up what he had just written. Leonardo da Vinci, famous leftie, solved it by developing mirror-image writing, readable to him, and convertible to regular writing by holding it up to a mirror. But mysterious writing could get you accused of witchcraft back then. Amusingly, history has turned full circle. Writing mirror-Gregg in the United States would make people think you are writing Arabic, and instead of an Inquisition, you would get a visit from Homeland Security... :-)
You now have to pay to see the Encarta encyclopedia on-line, so the concise shorthand article there can no longer be viewed. The British Broadcasting Corporation offers an article about Shorthand, on H2G2 (The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy) Dorothy Roberts is a retired teacher of shorthand interested in and able to decipher the oldest Pitman texts. PITMAN AND OTHER SHORTHANDS IN HISTORY: Apparently, Julius Caesar was assassinated with shorthand styluses. Strange, but true! Click here to see the article mentioning this, from the [U.S.] National Court Reporters Association. It was not the only such shorthand killing, either; apparently murderers found the pointy objects handy! U.S. President Woodrow Wilson wrote in Pitman, and made Pitman speech notes for his "14 Points" speech in early 1918 during WW I. Hard to read by modern trained Pitman people. PENS: Edward Mackie wrote, mentioning the Esterbrook Flexible Extra Fine Pitman Shorthand Pen. "The nib alone, Esterbrook #9128, is listed at USD$22.84. The pen, plus the nib, are listed at USD$69.00. Contact Mr. Peter Twydle at: www.penmuseum.co.uk "High-Lo", Greenacre Park, Hornsea, East Yorkshire HU18 1UW England." USE WITH PDA's: Some people have asked me whether there is a program that would allow their hand-held computer (a.k.a. Personal Digital Assistant) to read Pitman shorthand inputs. That would be very tricky pattern-recognition, and I don't know of any such thing. However, there IS a form of "shorthand" writing for PDA's that some outfit is offering; it is called Quikwriting, and they say it is faster than Graffiti (a form of simplified letters used for input on the Palm Pilot(TM)). LIBRARIES: Mr. Mackie also located what he believes to be the largest Pitman collection in the United States. It is the Leslie Collection (named after Leslie the shorthand author) and it is housed at Rider University, New Jersey, Moore Library. Authors such as Shakespeare and Dickens, and many others, have their works translated into Pitman shorthand. Another large collection exists at the University of Bath, England, latter home of Pitman. BROKEN LINK: A page existed about the Spinster Typeface, a commercial offering based on Pitman forms. Notice the logo consisting of the signs S, P, a clockwise hook for n, and a large "ster" loop. I was unsure of what the page was offering. The page is no longer at that URL.
Publishers of Pitman Textbooks:
Pearson Educational Publishing* in the UK has inherited the copyright to the Pitman textbooks and currently offers 10 titles, listed in their section on Office Skills, General, Shorthand. Hodder Headline*, publisher of the British "Teach Yourself" series, apparently offers books which teach Pitman 2000 as well as the older Pitman New Era. Why do they offer both? The modern trend in shorthands is towards ease of learnng, but the older methods offer the extensive abbreviations and other tricks to build super speed for verbatim applications, such as the almost extinct manual court-reporter. You can find these books by doing a search for "Pitman" on the Web-page here.
Books I Found:
Books on Pitman are not easy to find: these are what I found. Each book may exist in several editions from different countries and years. When you find one, here are some things to keep in mind.
Copperplate: Pitman books have printed symbols which are idealized, each stroke identical to the others of the same kind. It's sort of like the idealized handwriting specimens in a child's handwriting textbook. The process for these special diagrams was called "copperplate".
Keep in mind that these are idealized forms, which can't really be achieved with modern pencils or ball-point pens. Shorthand is not meant to be calligraphy, it is meant to be written as quickly as possible, making strokes with a flicking motion. However, in printed form the thick strokes in the middle of words are shown as thin at the start, thickening in the middle and thinning down at the end, getting back to normal. This is how thick strokes end up being written if you are doing it right.
Pitman 2000: Pitman shorthand has evolved over the decades, and some short forms used earlier are no longer in current use. The emphasis was on ease of learning, by sacrificing the memorization of many hundreds of short-forms which would help achieve the really mega-writing speeds. A modified modern system called Pitman 2000 was published in the late 70's. The major difference from the older Pitman New Era method is that thick and thin vowel signs are hard to write distinctly, and so the system doesn't distinguish light and heavy for some of the vowel marks.
Also, in Pitman 2000 a past-tense -d ending can be shown for any verb as a simple unconnected D-stroke next to the word. Before this rule, certain word endings like the -ST, -STER, or doubled strokes indicating an added -TER would change dramatically in shape with an added -D, and people would have to practice multiple endings for the grammatical forms of verbs. A disconnected D-stroke after a number means "dollars".
--Pitman's Shorthand by the Pitman College (originally written for the "Teach Yourself" series by Hodder & Stoughton); Coles Publishing Co., 1980; Toronto, Canada.
--New Basic Course in Pitman Shorthand; Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd.; 1964.
--Pitman Shorterhand by George A.Reid and Evelina J. Thompson, edited by Marion Angus; Pitman Publishing Ltd.; printed by Copp Clark Pitman (Canada) 1971. ISBN 0-7730-4126-5 [This deals with the Pitman 2000 system.]
Links on Various Shorthand Systems in Other Languages:
Readers are cautioned that my presentation of a Web-site does not confirm that the stenography method discussed is the dominant or most-used one for that language. I can't read most of these languages. The opinions of advocates of a stenography method, or their ideas of stenography philosophy, are strictly their own.
If you can read these languages, give me a summary of the Web-page and what they describe and advocate.
FRENCH/FRANÇAIS: --A History of Abbreviated Writing: A hyperlinked site about the history of media which includes very short sections on shorthands. The dominant system is called the Duployé system.
Il y a un site-Web sur l'histoire des médias avec de très petites sections sur les systèmes de sténographie. C'est une petite partie d'un site en tout fascinant.
The Swiss Duployé Stenographic Institute (Institut Sténographique Suisse Duployé) offers an Adobe (.pdf) file with the initial instructions about the Duployé method:
SPANISH/ESPAÑOL:** http://www.geocities.com/taquigra/ A detailed history of shorthand. Click a country name (note that EEUU=Estados Unidos=United States), get a history of the systems and authors promoting systems there. PORTUGUESE/PORTUGUÊS: A site from Brazil operated by Prof. Waldir Cury explains the Maron stenography method adapted to the Portuguese language. He appears to focus on the course process (with illustrative videos!), advocates the benefits of stenography and shows testimonials from his past students. He links to sites around the world having to do with stenography. http://www.taquigrafia.emfoco.nom.br/index.htm SWEDISH/SVENSKA: http://www.geocities.com/stenomelin/ The Melin shorthand system from Sweden. The title-page has an animation of the writing system; looks very other-worldly, like science fiction or the MYST computer games! Offers shorthand links by country.** RUSSIAN/PO RUSSKI: http://fonostenograf.narod.ru/ Valery Sukhoveyev of Barnaul, Siberia, Russia set up a Web-page about the "Phonostenography" system which works for Russian. I do not read Russian, but it seems to explain each letter according to a standard diagram that looks like a racetrack made of four clustered circles with two enclosed smaller loops each. By taking different twists and turns on this "racetrack" you form different consonants and consonant groups. Vowels are indicated by relative height of a consonant outline on the line of the page, something like in Pitman, but also depends on which "track" you take. He offers on-line theory, practice exercises, a CD-ROM and a discussion group! Link was found courtesy of Yenovk Lazian.
JAPANESE/NIHON-GO: Some pages in Japanese about Japanese stenography, although I can not understand their content:
Mr. Tsuguo KANEKO clarified the state of stenography (shorthand) in Japan: "Our Japanese pen shorthand began in 1882, transplanted from the American Pitman-Graham system. Geometric theory has great influence in Japan. But Japanese motions of writing gave some influence to our shorthand. We are proud to have reached the highest speed in capturing spoken words with a pen. Major pen shorthand systems are Shuugiin, Sangiin, Nakane and Waseda [a repeated vowel shown here means a vowel spoken in double-length in Japanese, sometimes shown instead as a bar over the vowel]. Including a machine-shorthand system, Sokutaipu, we have 5 major shorthand systems now. The Japan Shorthand Association now has 1,000 members."
Other Shorthand Systems:
Remember, I'm not going to get into an argument over what shorthand system is better, but I will freely present any links I can find concerning other systems. E-mail me if you would like me to link to your page. Here are links about other shorthand and speed-writing systems: Again, Marc Semler has covered Gregg Shorthand on his Web-page, "Shorthand Shorthand Shorthand". You can see what Gregg is like because Amazon.com displays sample pages of the book Gregg Shorthand Manual Simplified , which details an older version of Gregg called Diamond Gregg. As with Pitman shorthand, the pre-reductionist version offers greater potential speed and power! My aunt, Claudette Fecteau, revealed that she had learned Gregg shorthand extensively when she was working in offices. Her textbook was a Gregg text adapted to French: Sténographie Gregg -- collection du 75e anniversaire, by Sister Marie-Ernestine, S.S.A. (a.k.a. Alma Lamoureux), McGraw-Hill, Montreal, 1966. ISBN 0-07-094716-3. Again, this is the Diamond Gregg version. Apart from the lesson chapters it has amusing "period" blurbs about how a "young girl" can be of enhanced use to her "male" boss if she learns shorthand within the context of her secretarial duties. I am not sure yet that the adaptation of the Gregg alphabet to French sounds is perfect. Silent letters are not written, apparently, but the "n" found in nasal vowels an/en, in, on, and un is in fact written out. A system of French abbreviations, which are naturally quite different from the abbreviations assigned to the shorthand alphabet in English, is presented. However, this edition notes that great differences from the English system were avoided, as many secretaries of the area were called upon to work in English also. The dominance of the English language in business in Quebec was important at the time, but has now been reversed by aggressive Quebec "nationalism" and language legislation. Someone has reserved the www.shorthand.net and www.stenography.net domains to promote and sell their own system of speed writing, although very little detail is given about it until you pay for it. TEELINE SHORTHAND:*: Teeline was developed by James Hill, an instructor of Pitman, in 1970. It is still taught to journalists in several Commonwealth countries and so finds common daily use. The method is published by Heinemann , and to get specific titles on Teeline, go to this page and Search for book Titles with the word "Teeline." Another very useful site for Teeline is Goldsmiths' College, London. Their "Goldsmiths' College MA Radio" pages include Teeline Shorthand pages, which contain audio files, graphics of Teeline shorthand from the audio files and transcripts of the audio files at 2 levels. Their radio education page has links covering many interesting radio networks of the world, if you like to tune into live radio stations as I do. For more on music I like, see the PitmanSongs page. KEYSCRIPT SHORTHAND: Janet Cheeseman is a qualified instructor of Pitman and has invented a shorthand inspired by the Pitman-style short forms but written with the regular alphabet and not strokes. She offers a course in this method, now for A$120 (Australian dollars). She gives comparisons to other alphabetic or "speed writing" systems, some writing samples and basic examples.
She exposes this system on two sites with very similar sections and content on each. They seem to offer different styles of forums so I will give both sites in case you are already a forums member:
*These links were discovered and provided courtesy of Bruce Werner from South Africa.
**These links courtesy of Ian Dawson from the U.K.