I collected this writing sample of Pitman Shorthand from an unknown Web-site. The text illustrates the freedom of choice advanced Pitman writers may have in combining outlines together, or not.
The transcription of the Pitman, line by line, is as follows. Multi-word outlines are shown as words joined by an underscore [ _ ] in the text:
"This is the way I write. I could of_course substitute "This_is_the way_I_write" with an apparent gain in
brevity; but as a matter of fact it takes longer to contract. Writing shorthand with_the
maximum of contraction is like coding telegrams: unless one is in constant practice it
takes longer to devise the contractions than to write in full; and I now never think of contracting
except by ordinary logograms." [74 words, 68 outlines plus punctuation.]
The way I learned Pitman, the "New Era" version of the 1940's to the 1970's, the short forms "This is" and "This is the" were covered, as were the short forms for "practice" (Pr-K), "as a matter of fact" (SMtr-Kt), and "maximum" (first-position M-M), which the writer did not use. By the advanced rules of Pitman I could write "ordinary" in two strokes ('Rd-Nr) instead of four regular consonant strokes. In fact, possibly one good marker of which generation of Pitman someone learned is precisely how they write "generation" (which I write in two-and-a-half strokes as J-Nr-[shun-hook]). My outline count in writing this would end up lower, at least using the abbreviations and tricks I could easily remember.
People who learned Pitman 2000 (a.k.a. Pitman Shorterhand) might view an older "New Era" text as a little strange, where unusual old abbreviations crop up which are not based on the full syllables of a word. They might have trouble recognizing certain multi-word constructions or might totally miss the meaning of an "archaic" intersection-mark or a disjointed mark next to a main outline. Conversely, I can read Pitman 2000 but it looks a little strange to me: months of the year like "November" are spelled out with all syllables in '2000 (in New Era this was a "capitalized" N-V pair of strokes, close to the short form for "never" were it not for the capitalization mark. Another difference I noticed: "owing" in '2000 is written as a thick vertical dash in the first or "above" position with the ing-dot below it . It looks like a regular exclamation point (which can't be confused with the Pitman exclamation point). In New Era, this thick vertical dash by itself WAS the mark for "oh/owe", but "owing" had its own abbreviation: a first-position NG-stroke.
As has been said before, the modern trend is to simplify and reduce the memory-load of rules, abbreviations and even to eliminate the more esoteric tricks, at the expense of making it harder to reach the high-end speeds useful for court-reporting and verbatim records of Parliamentary or Congressional proceedings. But, I don't know, in the older Pitman there is a certain art, a certain joy of Pitman shorthand you can't express to outsiders, every time you encode the sounds of a big English word by pulling every trick you can think of, confident that someone else halfway around the world can untangle your compact squiggle and correctly transcribe exactly what you were thinking of.
Here is a sample of my own notes from a Weight Watchers meeting (yes, I needed it, and they do good work, they don't advocate extreme dieting or stuff. Click on the link for more), on a standard 6" x 9" steno pad. I'm not the fastest and haven't reached the point where I can take down every word someone says, but my outlines seem to be well-formed. The transcription is provided line-by-line, and for convenience on each side of the page (scroll left and right to see the two halves of the page). Multi-word outlines are shown as words joined with an underscore ( _ ) in the transcribed text. Explanatory notes, not part of the Pitman text, are of course in square brackets [ ].
[weigh-in, note to myself]
I lost 10 pounds but
could_be just heat and water
[2 erasures] loss.
[Meeting leader starts talking:]
Welcome everybody, things
are not too bad, [a?]
there_is a lot [1 erasure] to
cover, there_are new people.
We_have new members and
we_have a lot to cover,
I need a helper to make
weigh-in go faster.
First I_have some products and
a price list...I_don't like
to push product, I_have (what
I_can carry), you_can pay
by cash, cheque, etcetera.
[use bottom scrollbar or your mouse's autoscroll function to slide to right half of page]
How did people do?
On this program you should
not be hungry, talk to
your group leader
The weights were all over_the place
today, that_is normal, you_are
losing fluid, not fat.
We aim for 1-1/2 - 2 pounds
a week, don't worry.
Whatever happened to_you today just
use it as some feed-back[.]
You have eaten differently this past
week, and we are all different.
I [(erased)] men[tion]ed awards,
you get ribbons for pounds lost.
10 per-cent goal, that_is a goal[,]
like one dress size, one
pants size...I was stuck once,
A web-page in English and Korean offers a history of Pitman Shorthand, Sir Isaac Pitman, and two writing samples from the Royal Society of Arts, which at one time probably instructed Pitman shorthand for business. The Pitman appears to be a slightly archaic form of British Pitman shorthand, with heavy use of joined words, abbreviations and intersected strokes (an alternative way to abbreviate for very common business words like "company" or "attention" or "bank"). They took two entire pages of Pitman and transcribed them, but made some mistakes because they had trouble representing the symbol for the British pound. If you see any gibberish, it probably means "one pound" or "5000 pounds to 25 pounds". "Pound" in Pitman is represented by a halved p-stroke with an n-hook at the end, often joined to words. "Pounds" is represented by a halved p-stroke with a reversed s-loop at the end (suggesting the n-hook again).
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