Shorthand is an abbreviated symbolic writing method that increases speed and brevity of writing as compared to
Many forms of shorthand exist. A typical shorthand system provides symbols or abbreviations for words and common phrases, which can allow someone well-trained in the system to write as quickly as people speak. Abbreviation methods are alphabet-based and use different abbreviating approaches. Several
Shorthand was used more widely in the past, before the invention of recording and
The earliest known indication of shorthand systems is from the
An interest in shorthand or "short-writing" developed towards the end of the 16th century in
Shelton's system became very popular and is well known because it was used by Samuel Pepys for his diary and for many of his official papers, such as his letter copy books. It was also used by
One drawback of Shelton's system was that there was no way to distinguish long and short vowels or diphthongs; so the b-a-t sequence could mean "bat", or "bait", or "bate", while b-o-t might mean "boot", or "bought", or "boat". The reader needed to use the context to work out which alternative was meant. The main advantage of the system was that it was easy to learn and to use. It was popular, and under the two titles of Short Writing and Tachygraphy, Shelton's book ran to more than 20 editions between 1626 and 1710.
Shelton's chief rivals were
Modern-looking geometric shorthand was introduced with
Taylor's system was superseded by
Nathan Behrin wrote on Pitman shorthand in 1914:
The seeker after high speed should devote himself to obtaining a thorough mastery of the principles of his system of shorthand. Not until the ability to write shorthand without mental hesitation has been acquired, should speed practice begin.
A student observing the note-taking of an experienced stenographer will be struck with admiration at the smoothness of the writing and the perfect regularity of the outlines. An excellent method of practice for the like facility is in the copying of a selection sentence by sentence until the whole is memorized, and then writing it over and over again.
All notes taken at any speed should strictly be compared with the printed matter. It will then be found that many words are taken for others because of the forms they assume when written under pressure. Most of these can be avoided by careful attention to the writing. Experience alone will authorize any deviation from the text-book forms.
Phrasing should be indulged in sparingly on unfamiliar matter. But on familiar matter the student should always be alert for opportunities of saving both time and effort by employing the principles of intersection, elimination of consonants and the joining of words of frequent occurrence.
Nothing less than absolute accuracy should satisfy the student. Conflicting outlines should be carefully distinguished. Where words may be distinguished either by the insertion of vowels or the changing of one of the outlines, the latter should always be the method employed; vowels should freely be inserted whenever possible. The sense of the matter should be carefully preserved by the punctuation of the notes, indicating the full stop and leaving spaces in the notes between phrases.
The best matter of the for the student beginning practice for speed is to be found in the dictation books compiled by the publishers of the system. At first, the dictation should be slow to permit the making of careful outlines. Gradually the speed should be increased until the student is obliged to exert himself to keep pace with the reader; and occasionally short bursts of speed should be attempted as tests of the writer's progress.
The student ambitious to succeed will endeavor to familiarize himself with all matters pertaining to stenography. By reading the shorthand magazines he will keep himself in touch with the latest developments in the art. Facility in reading shorthand will also be acquired by reading the shorthand plates in these magazines. For comparison and suggestion, he will study the facsimile notes of practical stenographers. He will neglect no opportunity to improve himself in the use of his art. And finally he will join a shorthand society where he will come in contact with other stenographers who are striving toward the same goal as himself.
Despite being 175 years old Pitman's shorthand is still relevant today and used by thousands of journalists, executive PAs and secretaries across the world. In Europe, particularly in Great Britain there are thousands of educational institutions teaching Pitman's shorthand.
|“||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.||”|
There are several other pen shorthands in use (Ishimura, Iwamura, Kumassaki, Kotani, and Nissokuken), leading to a total of nine pen shorthands in use. In addition, there is the Yamane pen shorthand (of unknown importance) and three machine shorthands systems (Speed Waapuro, Caver and Hayatokun or sokutaipu.) The machine shorthands have gained some ascendancy over the pen shorthands.
Japanese shorthand systems ('sokki' shorthand or 'sokkidou' stenography) commonly use a syllabic approach, much like the common writing system for Japanese (which has actually two syllabaries in everyday use). There are several semi-cursive systems. Most follow a left-to-right, top-to-bottom writing direction. Several systems incorporate a loop into many of the strokes, giving the appearance of Gregg, Graham, or Cross's Eclectic shorthand without actually functioning like them. The Kotani (aka Same-Vowel-Same-Direction or SVSD or V-type) system's strokes frequently cross over each other and in so doing form loops.
Japanese also has its own variously cursive form of writing kanji characters, the most extremely simplified of which is known as
The two Japanese syllabaries are themselves adapted from the Chinese characters (both of the syllabaries, katakana and hiragana, are in everyday use alongside the Chinese characters known as kanji; the kanji, being developed in parallel to the Chinese characters, have their own idiosyncrasies, but Chinese and Japanese ideograms are largely comprehensible, even if their use in the languages are not the same.)
Prior to the Meiji era, Japanese did not have its own shorthand (the kanji did have their own abbreviated forms borrowed alongside them from China). Takusari Kooki was the first to give classes in a new Western-style non-ideographic shorthand of his own design, emphasis being on the non-ideographic and new. This was the first shorthand system adapted to writing phonetic Japanese, all other systems prior being based on the idea of whole or partial semantic ideographic writing like that used in the Chinese characters, and the phonetic approach being mostly peripheral to writing in general (even today, Japanese writing uses the syllabaries to pronounce or spell out words, or to indicate grammatical words. Furigana are written alongside kanji, or Chinese characters, to indicate their pronunciation especially in juvenile publications. Furigana are usually written using the hiragana syllabary; foreign words may not have a kanji form and are spelled out using katakana.)
The new sokki were used to transliterate popular vernacular story-telling theater (yose) of the day. This led to a thriving industry of sokkibon (shorthand books). The ready availability of the stories in book form, and higher rates of literacy (which the very industry of sokkibon may have helped create, due to these being oral classics that were already known to most people) may also have helped kill the yose theater, as people no longer needed to see the stories performed in person to enjoy them. Sokkibon also allowed a whole host of what had previously been mostly oral rhetorical and narrative techniques into writing, such as imitation of dialect in conversations (which can be found back in older gensaku literature; but gensaku literature used conventional written language in-between conversations, however.)