Gregg shorthand

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Gregg shorthand is a form of shorthand that was invented by John Robert Gregg in 1888. Like cursive longhand, it is completely based on elliptical figures and lines that bisect them. Gregg shorthand is the most popular form of pen stenography in the United States and its Spanish adaptation is fairly popular in Latin America. With the invention of dictation machines, shorthand machines, and the practice of executives writing their own letters on their personal computers, however, the use of shorthand gradually declined in the business world.

Several editions of this system were published: Pre-Anniversary, which includes the first five editions, the first being first published in two small paper-covered pamphlets in 1888, the second being published in 1893, the third in book form in 1897, the fourth being published in 1903, and the fifth being published in 1916; Anniversary, a revised and simplified form published in 1929, called Anniversary because it was to be published on the fortieth anniversary of the system (1928), but there was some delay in publication; Simplified, a version created in 1949, in which many of the principles and memorized forms were removed or simplified due to findings of studies by the publishers and suggestions of many shorthand teachers; Diamond Jubilee, published in 1963, again simplified from the Simplified version; Series 90, published in 1978, which brought even more simplifications to the system; and Centennial, published in 1988, with several similarities to the Diamond Jubilee system earlier. Besides these main editions, which were designed for the dictation speeds expected of any shorthand system of the time, a number of simpler, general/personal-use editions were published from 1924 to 1968. These included "Junior" in 1924, "Greghand" in 1935, and "Notehand" in 1960 and 1968.

Gregg is often contrasted to Pitman shorthand, as the two share huge predominance over other English shorthand systems. Pitman uses line thickness and position to discriminate between two similar sounds, but Gregg shorthand uses the same thickness throughout and discriminates between similar sounds by the length of the stroke. Gregg shorthand has also been adapted for several other languages. John Robert Gregg was originally a teacher of a Duployé shorthand adaptation to English (Duployé shorthand is the dominant system in France, and also featured uniform thickness and attached vowels). However, he found the angular outlines of Duployé-based systems to be detrimental to speed; Gregg shorthand features cursive strokes which can be naturally blended without sharp angles. In addition, because the symbols of Gregg shorthand are developed especially for English rather than adapted from a French system, they are a better fit for the language (for example, Gregg has a symbol for th (IPA: /θ/) whereas the Duployan systems would use a dotted t, which takes longer to write).


[edit] Writing

Gregg shorthand is a phonetic writing system, which means it records the sounds of the speaker, not the English spelling. It uses the f stroke for the IPA: /f/ sound in funnel, telephone, and laugh. All silent letters are omitted. The image on the right shows the strokes of Gregg Shorthand Simplified. The system is written from left to right and the letters are joined. Sh (= IPA: /ʃ/) (and zh = IPA: /ʒ/), Ch (= IPA: /tʃ/), and J (or Dzh, = IPA: /dʒ/) are written downward, while t and d are written upward. X (IPA: /ks/) is expressed by putting a slight backward slant on the s symbol, though a word beginning ex is just written as if spelt es (and, according to Pre-Anniversary, ox is written as if os). W when in the middle of a word, is notated with a short dash under the next vowel. Therefore, the letter Q (= IPA: /kw/) is usually written as k with a dash underneath the next vowel. In Anniversary and before, if z need be distinguished from s, a small tick drawn at a right angle from the s may be written to make this distinction.

Many of the letters shown are also what are called "brief forms". For instance, instead of writing hwech (The dot for the h in wh is practiced in all systems before Diamond Jubilee) for "which" (= IPA: /hwɪtʃ/), the Gregg stenographer just writes ch. These brief forms are shown on the image to the right. There are several others not shown, however. For instance, "please" is written in Simplified and back as simply pl, and "govern" as gv. These brief forms can make Gregg shorthand much faster.

Another mechanism for increasing the speed of shorthand is phrasing. Based on the calculation that lifting the pen between words has a speed cost equivalent to one stroke, phrasing is the combination of several smaller distinct forms into one outline, for example "it may be that the" could be written in one outline, "(tm)ab(th)a(th)". "I have not been able" would be written, "avnba" (Note that to the eye of the reader this phrase written in shorthand looks like "I-have-not-been-able", and so phrasing is far more legible than a longhand explanation of the principle may lead one to believe).

The vowels in Gregg shorthand are divided into three main groups that very rarely require further notation. The a is a large circle, and can stand for the a in "apple" (IPA: /æ/), "father" (IPA: /ɑː/), and "ache" (IPA: /eɪ/). The e is a small circle, and can stand for the e in feed (IPA: /iː/) and help (IPA: /ɛ/), the i in trim (IPA: /ɪ/) and marine (IPA: /iː/), and the obscure vowel in her and learn (IPA: /ɜr/). The ī represents the i in fine (IPA: /aɪ/). The o is a small hook that represents the al in talk (IPA: /ɔː/), the o in cone (IPA: /oʊ/), jot (IPA: /ɒ/), and order (IPA: /ɔr/). The u is a tiny hook that expresses the three vowel sounds heard in the words who (IPA: /uː/), up (IPA: /ʌ/), and foot (IPA: /ʊ/). It also expresses a w at the beginning of a word. In "Anniversary," short and long vowel sounds for e, a, o and u may be distinguished by a mark under the vowel, a dot for short and a small downward tick for long sounds.

There are special vowel markings for certain diphthongs. The ow in how (IPA: /aʊ/) is just an a circle followed by an u hook. The io in lion (IPA: /aɪə/) is written with a small circle inside a large circle. The ia in piano (IPA: /iæ/) and repudiate (IPA: /ieɪ/) is notated as a large circle with a dot in its center (In Anniversary and back, if ea need be distinguished from ia, it is notated with a small downward tick inside the circle instead of the dot). The u in united (IPA: /juː/) is notated with a small circle followed by an u hook above it.

Due to the very simple alphabet, Gregg shorthand is very fast in writing. It takes a great deal of practice, however, to master it. Speeds of 280 WPM (where a word is 1.4 syllables) have been reached with this simple system before, and those notes are still legible to anyone else who knows the system.

Some left-handed shorthand writers have found it more comfortable to write Gregg shorthand from right to left. This is called "mirrored shorthand" and was in practice by a few people throughout the life of Gregg shorthand. However, left-handed writers can still write Gregg shorthand from left to right with considerable ease.

[edit] Versions of Gregg shorthand

Throughout the history of Gregg shorthand, numerous different forms of Gregg have been created. All the systems are similar and use the same alphabet, but they differ in memory load and speed. Pre-Anniversary is the fastest, and most condensed version, but it also has the largest memory load. Series 90 Gregg has the smallest memory load, but it is also the slowest version of Gregg.

[edit] Pre-Anniversary Gregg shorthand

Pre-Anniversary Gregg was first published in 1888 by John Robert Gregg himself. However, it was in a very primal stage, and therefore did not gain much success. Five years later, a much better version was published. This version was published in a book entitled "Gregg Shorthand" in 1897. This version of Gregg has been deemed the hardest due to its large number of brief forms and phrases. This version is known for its large number of "common" affixes, brief forms and phrases, such as a prefix for "patri-".

[edit] Anniversary Gregg shorthand

In 1929 another version of Gregg shorthand was published. This system reduced the memory load on its learners by decreasing the number of brief forms to 318, and removing uncommon prefixes. Regardless of the deletions, this system was still incredibly efficient. Most Gregg literature uses this series.

[edit] Simplified Gregg shorthand

Simplified Gregg shorthand was published in 1949. The manual for this version of Gregg was still available to be purchased through McGraw-Hill until recently. It is now available under the ISBN 0077072502. This system reduced the number of brief forms that needed to be memorized drastically to only 181. Even with this reduction in the number of brief forms, one could still reach speeds upward of 150 WPM. Many people find this system has the best balance in terms of memory load without sacrificing speed.

[edit] Diamond Jubilee Gregg shorthand

The Diamond Jubilee series, also known as DJS, ran through most of the sixties and the seventies (1963–1977). It was simpler than the Simplified version, and reduced the number of brief forms yet again to 129. For those Diamond Jubilee students who wanted to use advanced shortcuts like those of Anniversary, an edition of "Expert" Diamond Jubilee was available to push speeds upward. Diamond Jubilee was the most common form of Gregg that was offered in schools.

[edit] Series 90 Gregg shorthand

Series 90 (1978–1987) was an even simpler version, which used a minimal number of brief forms and placed a great emphasis on clear transcription, rather than reporting speed. Some people say that with this version, McGraw-Hill may have gone too far in terms of brevity. Due to the minimal number of brief forms, this system is not suitable for taking dictation. Shorthand was beginning to dwindle in popularity during this series' usage.

[edit] Centennial Gregg shorthand

Published in 1988, this was the final series of Gregg shorthand. It is sometimes considered a revival of Diamond Jubilee. A very regular and relatively simple version, Centennial is appropriate for office dictation. Centennial Gregg has 132 brief forms.

[edit] Adaptations of Gregg shorthand

Gregg shorthand was adapted to several languages, including Afrikaans, Esperanto, French, German, Hebrew, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Catalan, and Tagalog. With a few customizations, it can be adapted to nearly any language. The Spanish version, whose designer was Eduardo Vega, is the most popular adaptation.

[edit] See also

[edit] Further reading

  • John Robert Gregg, Louis A. Leslie, and Charles E. Zoubek. Gregg Shorthand Manual Simplified: Second Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1955. (ISBN 0-07-024548-7)
  • John Robert Gregg, Louis A. Leslie, and Charles E. Zoubek. Gregg Shorthand Dictionary Simplified: A Dictionary of 30,000 Authoritative Gregg Shorthand Outlines. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1949. (ISBN 0-07-024545-2)

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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