1902 Encyclopedia > Shorthand


SHORTHAND, or STENOGRAPHY, TACHYGRAPHY, &c., is a term applied to all systems of brief handwriting which are intended to enable a person to write legibly at the rate of speech. (For the ancient Latin and ______ (IMG) tachygraphy, see the last part of the article on PALAEOGRAPHY.) In, the 10th century all practical acquaintance with the shorthand systems of Greece and Ror~ie faded completely away, and not till the beginning of the 17th can the art be said to have revived. But even during that interval systems of writing seem to have been practised which for speed approximated to modern shorthand.1

Shorthand in English-speaking Countries.—England was the birthplace of modern shorthand, and at the present time there is no country in Europe, except perhaps Germany and German Switzerland, where the art is so extensively practised as in England. The first impulse to its cultivation may possibly be traced to the Reformation. When the principles of that movement were being promulgated from the pulpit, a desire to preserve the discourses of the preacher naturally suggested the idea of accelerated writing. It is certainly striking that in the early systems so many brief arbitrary signs are provided to denote phrases common in the New Testament and Protestant theology. Up to the present time (1886) not less than 483 professedly distinct systems of English shorthand have been published, and doubtless many more have been invented for private use. It is impossible here to notice even by name more than a very few of them. Indeed, if we reject all those systems which are imitations or reproductions of earlier ones, and systems which are so unpractical as to be little better than elegant toys, and a multitude of utterly worthless catchpenny publications, only a few remain. In Dr Timothy Bright’s2 Characterie (1588) and Peter Bales’s3 Arte of Brachygraphie, contained in his Writing Schoolemaster (1590), almost every word in the language is provided with an arbitrary sign. Only with gigantic memory and by unremitting labour could one acquire a practical knowledge of such methods. The first shorthand system worthy of the name which, so far as is known, appeared in England is that of John Willis, whose Art of Stenographie (London, 13 editions4 from 1602 to 1644) is substantially based on the common alphabet; but the clumsiness of his alphabetic signs, and the confused laborious contrivances by which he denotes prefixes and terminations, involving the continual lifting of the pen, would seem to render his method almost as slow as longhand. Of the 201 systems which intervene between J. Willis’s and Isaac Pitman’s phonography (1837) nearly all are based, like Willis’s, on the alphabet, and may be called a, b, c systems. But seven are, like phonography, strictly phonetic, viz., those by Tiffin (1750), Lyle (1762), Holdsworth and Aldridge (1766), Roe (1802), Phineas Bailey (1819), Towndrow (1831), and De Stains (1839). Of the 281 systems which have appeared since phonography a very large proportion are merely imitations of that system, or proceed on the same lines.

A few general remarks apply largely to all the a, b, c systems. Each letter is designated by a straight line or curve (vertical, horizontal, or sloping), sometimes with the addition of a hook or loop. C and q are rejected, k being substituted for hard c and q, s for soft c. Signs are provided for ch, sh, th. G and j are classed under one sign, because in some words g is pronounced as j, as in giant, gem. Similarly each of the pairs f, v and s, z has only one sign. A few authors make the signs for j, v, z heavier than those for g, f, s. Some class p and b, t and d, each under one sign. The stenographic alphabet is therefore—a, b, d, e, f (v), g (i), h, i, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s (z), t, u, w, x, y, ch, sh, th. Letters which are not sounded may be omitted. Gh, ph may be counted as f in such words as cough, Philip ; but the th in thing is never distinguished from the th in them. Thus the a, b, c systems are largely phonetic with respect to consonant-sounds; it is rather with regard to the vowels that they disregard the phonetic principle. No attempt is made to provide adequately for the many vowel-sounds of the language. Thus the signs for like and lick, for rate and rat, &c., are the same. In the case of vowel-sounds denoted by two letters, that vowel is to be written which best represents the sound. Thus in meat the e is selected, but in great the a. In some a, b, c systems, including the best of them (Taylor’s), a dot placed anywhere does duty for all the vowels. This practice is, of course, a fruitful source of error, for pauper and paper, gas and goose, and hundreds of other pairs of words would according to this plan be written alike. In the early systems of Willis and his imitators the vowels are mostly written either by joined characters or by lifting the pen and writing the next consonant in a certain position with respect to the preceding one. Both these plans are bad ; for lifting the pen involves expenditure of time, and vowels expressed by joined signs and not by marks external to the word cannot be omitted, as is often necessary in swift writing, without changing the general appearance of the word and forcing the eye and the hand to accustom themselves to two sets of outlines, vocalized and unvocalized. In the better a, b, c systems the alphabetic signs, besides combining to denote words, may also stand alone to designate certain short common words, prefixes, and suffixes. Thus in Harding’s edition of Taylor’s system the sign for d, when written alone, denotes do, did, the prefixes de-, des-, and the terminations -dom, -end, -ened, -ed. This is a good practice if the words are well chosen and precautions taken to avoid ambiguities. Numbers of symbolical signs and rough word-pictures, and even wholly arbitrary marks, are employed to denote words and entire phrases. Symbolical or pictorial signs, if sufficiently suggestive and not very numerous, may be effective; but the use of "arbitraries" is objectionable because they are so difficult to remember. In many shorthand books the student is recommended to form additional ones for himself, and so of course make his writing illegible to others. The raison d’être of such signs is not far to seek. The proper shorthand signs for many common words were so clumsy or ambiguous that this method was resorted to in order to provide them with clearer and easier outlines. For the purpose of verbatim reporting the student is recommended to omit as a rule all vowels, and decipher his writing with the aid of the context. But, when vowels are omitted, hundreds of pairs of words having the same consonant skeleton (such as minister and monastery, frontier and furniture, libel and label) are written exactly alike. This is one of the gravest defects of the a, b, c systems.

John Willis’s system was largely imitated but hardly improved by Edmond Willis (1618), T. Shelton (1620), Witt (1630), Dix (1633), Mawd (1635), and Theophilus Metcalfe (1635). T. Shelto’s system, republished a great many times down to 1687, was the one which Samuel Pepys used in writing his diary.1 It was adapted to German, Dutch, and Latin.2 An advertisement of Shelton’s work in the Mercurius Politicus of 3d October 1650 is one of the earliest business advertisements known. The book of Psalms in metre (206 pages, 2 3/8 x 1 1/2 inches) was engraved according to Shelton’s system by Thomas Cross. Metcalfe’s Radio-Stenography, or Short-Writing, was republished again and again for about a hundred years. The 35th "edition" is dated 1693, and a 55th is known to exist. The inefficiency of the early systems seems to have brought the art into some contempt. Thus Thomas Heywood, a contemporary of Shakespeare, says in a prologue3 that his play of Queen Elizabeth

"Did throng the seats, the boxes, and the stage
So much that some by stenography drew
A plot, put it in print, scarce one word true."

Shakespeare critics would in this manner explain the badness of the text in the earliest editions of Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Taming of the Shrew, Merry Wives of Windsor, and Henry V. Perhaps a study of J. Willis’s system and of E. Willis’s (which, though not published till after Shakespeare’s death, was practised long before) may shed light on corrupt readings of the text of these plays.4 Rich’s system (1646, 20th edition 1792) was reproduced with slight alterations by many other persons, including W. Addy, Stringer, and Dr Philip Doddridge (1799 and three times since). The New Testament and Psalms were engraved in Rich’s characters (1659, 596 pages, 2 _ x 1 _ inches, 2 vols.), and Addy brought out the whole Bible engraved in shorthand5 (London, 1687, 396 pp.). Locke, in his Treatise on Education, recommends Rich’s system; but it is encumbered with more than 300 symbolical and arbitrary signs. In 1847 it was still used by Mr Plowman, a most accomplished Oxford reporter.

In 1672 William Mason, the best shorthand author of the 17th century, published his Pen pluck’d from an Eagle’s Wing. The alphabet was largely taken from Rich’s. But in his Art’s Advancement (1682) only six of Rich’s letters are retained, and in his Plume Volante (1707) further changes are made. Initial vowels are written by their alphabetic signs, final vowels by dots in certain positions (a, e at the beginning; i, y at the middle; o, u at the end), and medial vowels by lifting the pen and writing the next consonant in those same three positions with respect to the preceding one. Mason employed 423 symbols and arbitraries. He was the first to discover the value of a small circle for s in addition to its proper alphabetic sign. Mason’s system was republished by Thomas Gurney in 1740, a circumstance which has perpetuated its use to the present day, for in 1737 Gurney was appointed shorthand-writer to the Old Bailey, and early in the 19th century W. B. Gurney was appointed shorthand-writer to both Houses of Parliament. Gurney reduced Mason’s arbitraries to about a hundred, inventing a few specially suitable for parliamentary reporting. The Gurneys were excellent writers of a cumbrous system. Thomas Gurney’s Brachygrophy passed through at least eighteen editions, but the sale of the book has now almost ceased.

In 1767 was published at Manchester a work by John Byrom, sometime fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, entitled The Universal English Shorthand, distinguished for its precision, elegance, and systematic construction. Byrom had died in 1763. Having lost his fellowship by failing to take orders, be made a living by teaching shorthand in London and Manchester, and among his pupils were Horace Walpole, Lord Conway, Charles Wesley, Lord Chesterfield, the duke of Devonshire, and Lord Camden. Shorthand, it is said, procured him admission to the Royal Society. He founded a stenographic club, to the proceedings of which his journal,6 written in shorthand, is largely devoted. In the strangers’ gallery of the House of Commons in 1728 Byrom dared to write shorthand from Sir R. Walpole and others. In 1731, when called upon to give evidence before a parliamentary committee, he took shorthand notes, and, complaints being made, he said that if those attacks on the liberties of shorthand men went on he "must have a petition from all counties where our disciples dwell, and Manchester must lead the way." Thomas Molyneux popularized the system by publishing seven cheap editions between 1793 and 1825. Modifications of Byrom’s system were issued by Palmer (1774), Nightingale (1811), Adams (1814), Longmans (1816), Gawtress (1819), Kelly (1820), Jones (1832), and Roffe (1833). Byrom’s method received the distinction of a special Act of Parliament for its protection (15 Geo. II. c. 23, for twenty-one years from 24th June 1742). To secure lineality in the writing and facility in consonantal joinings he provided two forms for b, h, j, w, x, sh, th, and three for l. A, e, i, o, u, he represented by a dot in five positions with respect to a consonant. Practically it is impossible to observe more than three (beginning, middle, and end). With all its merits, the system lacks rapidity, the continual recurrence of the loop seriously retarding the pen.

In 1786 was published An Essay intended to establish a Standardfor a Universal System of Strnography, by Samuel Taylor (London). This system did more than any of its predecessors to establish the art in England and abroad. Equal to Byrom’s in brevity, it is simpler in construction. No letter has more than one sign, except w, which has two. Considering that five vowel places about a consonant were too many, Taylor went to the other extreme and expressed all the vowels alike by a dot placed in any position. He directs that vowels are not to be expressed except when they sound strong at the beginning and end of a word. Arbitraries he discarded altogether; but Harding, who re-edited his system in 1823, introduced a few. Each letter when standing alone represents two or three common short words, prefixes and suffixes. But the list was badly chosen: thus m represents my and many, both of them adjectives, and therefore liable to be confounded in many sentences. To denote in and on by the same sign is evidently absurd. Taylor’s system was republished again and again. The latest editions are those of J. H. Cooke (London, 1865) and A. Janes (London, 1882). In Harding’s edition (1823 and at least twelve times since) the vowels are written on an improved plan, the dot in three positions representing a, e, i, and a tick in two positions o, u. Several other persons brought out Taylor’s system, in particular G. Odell, whose book was re-edited or reprinted not less than sixty--four times, the later republications appearing at New York. The excellence of Taylor’s method was recognized on the Continent : the system came into use in France, Italy, Holland, Sweden, Germany, Portugal, Roumania, Hungary, &c. In England at the present day no method excepting Pitman’s phonography is more popular than Taylor’s, although the systems which have appeared since Taylor’s are far more numerous than those which preceded it.

The Universal Stenography of William Mavor (1780 and nine times since) is a very neat system, and differs from Taylor’s in the alphabet and in a more definite method of marking the vowels. A, e, i, are indicated by commas, o, u, y, by dots, in three places with respect to a letter, namely beginning, middle, and end. Other systems by J. H. Lewis (1812) and Moat (1833) are still used to a small extent.

The vast mass of a, b, c systems are strikingly devoid of originality, and are mostly imitations of the few that have been mentioned. Nearly all may be briefly described as consisting of an alphabet, a list of common words, pre-fixes and suffixes expressed by single letters, a list of ar-bitrary and symbolical signs, a table showing the best way of joining any two letters, a few general rules for writing, and a specimen plate.1

Pitman’s phonography, on account of its enormous diffusion in Great Britain and the colonies, and in America, its highly organized and original construction, and its many inherent advantages, merits a more extended notice than has been given to the systems already mentioned. In 1837 Isaac Pitman, then teacher of a British school at Wotton-under-Edge and an excellent writer of Taylor’s system, composed at the invitation of Samuel Bagster a short stenographic treatise of his own, which Bagster published under the title of Stenographic Sound-Hand. The price was fixed at fourpence, for the author had determined to place shorthand within the reach of everybody. He had won the friendship of the Bible publisher by volun-tarily verifying the half a million references in the Comprehensive Bible, and Mr Bagster for nine years published Mr Pitman’s shorthand books. In 1840 a second edition appeared in the form of a penny plate bearing the title Phonography, the principal feature of the system being that it was constructed on a purely phonetic basis. The name of Bagster helped the enterprise, and the author was indefatigable in spreading the knowledge of his system by lectures and gratuitous teaching through the penny post, then just established. In December 1841 the first number of what is now known as the Phonetic Journal appeared at Manchester in a lithographed form. It was then called the Phonographic Journal, and subsequently in turn the Phonotypic Journal, the Phonetic News, and the Phonetic Journal. The chief instruction books issued by the author at the present time from his press at the Phonetic Institute, Bath, are the Phonographic Teacher, a little sixpenny book for beginners, of which 1,030,000 copies have been published; the Manual of Phonography (470th thousand), in which the art is sufficiently developed for the purpose of correspondence, private memoranda, and easy reporting; and the Phonographic Reporter (133d thousand). The weekly circulation of the Phonetic Journal is about 20,000 copies. A part of it is printed in the phonographic character from movable types. The system has been warmly taken up in America, where it has been republished in more or less altered forms, especially by the author’s brother Benn Pitman, and by Messrs A. J. Graham, J. E. Munson, E. Longley, and Eliza B. Burns. A large number of periodicals lithographed in phonography are published in England and America. The Shorthand Magazine, monthly, has existed since 1864. Of standard English books printed or lithographed in phonography may be mentioned, besides the Bible, New Testament, and Prayer Book, The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Vicar of Wakefield, Pickwick Papers, Tom Brown’s School-Days, Macaulay’s Essays and Biographies, Gulliver’s Travels, Blackie’s Self-culture, Bacon’s Essays, and a long list of tales and selections. Numerous societies have been formed in all English-speaking countries for the dissemination of phonography. The largest is the Phonetic Society with 3350 members, who have all certificates of a knowledge of the art and engage to teach through the post gratuitously. Most important towns in the United Kingdom have a phonographic association. London has three. Phono-graphy has been adapted to several foreign languages, but not so successfully as Gabelsberger’s German system. Mr T. A. Reed’s French Phonography (1882) is intended only for English phonographers who wish to report French speeches. Other adaptations to French are by A. J. Lawson and J. R. Bruce. A society for the adaptation of phonography to Italian was organized at Rome in 1883 by G. Francini, who has published his results (Rome, 1883, 1886). Phonography adapted to Spanish by Parody (Buenos Ayres, 1864) is practised by half the steno-graphers employed in the senate and chamber at Buenos Ayres. It has been adapted to Welsh by R. H. Morgan (Wrexham, 1876), and to German by C. L. Driesslein (Chicago, 1884). Phonography is steadily driving all other English systems out of the field. Mr T. A. Reed stated in the Phonetic Journal, 1883, p. 62, that of the 61 writers employed by the Times, Standard, Telegraph, Morning Post, and the Press Association 31 were using phonography, 18 Taylor’s, 5 Gurney’s (i.e., Mason’s), 4 Lewis’s, and 3 other systems; of the 67 members composing the Institute of Shorthand Writers, chiefly practitioners in the law courts, 26 were using phonography, 29 Taylor’s, 7 Gurney’s (i.e., Mason’s), 3 Mavor’s, and 2 Lewis’s; while of the 80 mem-bers of the London Shorthand Writers’ Association, chiefly employed in business offices, at least five-sixths were phono-graphers. According to a recent (1882) history of short-hand, of 291 professional stenographers in London 134 used phonography, 89 Taylor’s, 35 Gurney’s, 8 Lewis’s, 8 Mavor’s, and 17 other systems (Byrom’s, Graham’s, Moat’s, &c,).

The main features of Pitman’s system must now be described. The alphabet of consonant-sounds is—p, b ; t, d; ch (as in chip), j ; k, g (as in gay) ; f, v ; th (as in thing), dh (as in them) ; s, z ; sh, zh (as in vision); m, n, ng (as in thing) ; l, r ; w, y, h. The sounds p, t, ch, k are represented respectively by the four straight strokes \ I /— ; and the corresponding voiced sounds b, d, j, g by exactly the same signs respectively written heavy. F, th (as in thing), s, sh are indicated by ______ (IMG) respectively; the same signs written heavy and tapering to the ends are used for v, dh, z, zh respecively. M, n, 1, r are denoted by ______ (IMG) respectively. R is also represented by &Mac218; written upwards and in a more slanting direction than the sign for ch. The signs for sh and l may be written up or down when in combination, but standing alone sh is written downwards and l upwards. The signs for w, y, h are ______ (IMG), all written upwards. H has also ______ (IMG) down. Ng, mp (or mb), rch (or rj), lr, are represented by the signs for n, m, r, l respectively written heavy. Signs are provided for the Scotch guttural ch (as in loch), the Welsh ll, and the French nasal n. S is generally written by a small circle. The long-vowel sounds are thus classified—_ (as in balm), _ (as in bait), ee (as in feet), aw (as in law), _ (as in coal), __ (as in boot). The vowels _, _. ee are marked by a heavy dot placed respectively at the beginning, middle, and end of a consonant sign ; aw, _, __ by a heavy dash in the same three positions, and generally struck at right angles to the direction of the consonant. The short vowels are _ (as in pat), _ (as in pet), _ (as in pit), _ (as in pot), _ (as in but), and __ (as in put). The signs for these are the same as for the corresponding long vowels just enumerated, except that they are written light. Signs similarly placed are provided for the diphthongs oi (as in boil), __ or __, __ (as in Boan-erges, poet, coincide ), for the series y_, y_, yee, &c., and for the series w_, w_, wee, &c. The signs for ei (as in bite) and ou (as in cow) are __, and may be placed in any position with respect to a consonant. A straight line may receive four hooks, one at each side of the beginning and end, but a curve only two, one at each end in the direction of the curve. Hooks applied to a straight line indicate the addition of r, 1, n, and f or v respectively, thus—______ (IMG). Hooks applied to a curve denote the addition of r, n respectively, thus—______ (IMG). Vowel -signs placed after (or, in the case of horizontal strokes, under) a consonant having the n or f, v hook are read between the consonant and the n or f; thus—______ (IMG). A large hook at the commencement of a curve signifies the addi-tion of l, as ______ (IMG) fl. The hooks combine easily with the circle s, thus—______ (IMG) (where the hook r is implied or included in the circle), ______ (IMG) (the hook n being included), ______ (IMG), &c. The halving principle is one of the happiest devices in the whole history of shorthand. The halving of a light stroke—that is, writing it half length—implies the addition of t ; the halving of a heavy stroke that of d, the vowel placed after (or under) the halved stroke being read between the consonant and the added t or d, thus—______ (IMG). By this means very brief signs are provided for hosts of syllables ending in t and d, and for a number of verbal forms ending in ed, thus—______ (IMG). The halving of a heavy stroke may, if necessary, add t, and that of a light stroke d, thus—______ (IMG). By combining the hook, the circle, and the halving principle, two or three together, exceedingly brief signs are obtained for a number of consonantal series consisting of the combination of a consonant with one or more of the sounds s, r, 1, n,f, t, thus—______ (IMG), &c. As a vowel-mark cannot conveniently be placed to a hook or circle, we are easily led to a way of distinguisbing in outline between such words as ______ (IMG) cough and ______ (IMG) coffee, ______ (IMG) pen and ______ (IMG) penny, ______ (IMG) race and ______ (IMG) racy, &c. This distinction limits the number of possible readings of an unvocalized outline. A large hook at the end of a stroke indicates the addition of -shon (as infashion, action, &c.). This hook easily combines with the circle s, as in ______ (IMG) actions, ______ (IMG) positions. The circle s made large indicates ss or sz, as in ______ (IMG) pieces, ______ (IMG) losses. The vowel between s and s (z) may be marked inside the circle, as in ______ (IMG) exercise, ______ (IMG) subsistence. The circle s lengthened to a loop signifies st, as in ______ (IMG) step, ______ (IMG) post, while a longer loop indicates str, as in ______ (IMG) muster, ______ (IMG) minster. The loop may be continued through the consonantal stroke and terminate in a circle to denote sts and strs, as in ______ (IMG) boasts, ______ (IMG) minsters. The loop written on the left or lower side of a, straight stroke implies the n hook and so signifies nst, as in ______ (IMG) against, ______ (IMG) danced. A curve (or a straight stroke with a final hook) written double length implies the addition of tr, dr, or thr, as in ______ (IMG) father, ______ (IMG) letter, ______ (IMG) kinder, ______ (IMG) fender,______ (IMG) render. This practice is quite safe in the case of curves, but straight stroke should not be lengthened in this way when there is danger of reading as a double letter. The lineal consonant-signs may stand alone to represent certain short and common words as in many of the old a, b, c systems, with this difference, that in the old systems each letter represents several words, but in phonography, in almost every case, only one. By writing the horizontal strokes in two positions with respect to the line (above and on) and the others in three positions (entirely above, resting on) and passing through the line) the number is nearly trebled, and very brief signs are obtained for some seventy or eighty common short words (e.g., be, by, in, if, at, it, my, me, &c.). A few very common monosyllables are represented by their vowel-marks, as the (remnant of ______ (IMG), of (remnant of, ______ (IMG)), on (remnant of ______ (IMG)). A certain number of longer words which occur frequently are contracted, generally by omitting the latter part, sometimes a middle part of the word, as in ______ (IMG) (ksp) expect, ______ (IMG) (djr) danger, ______ (IMG) (krk sk) characteristic, ______ (IMG) (nd f t) indefatigable. The connective phrase of the is intimated by writing the words between which it occurs near to each other. The is often expressed by a short slanting stroke or tick joined to the preceding word and generally struck downwards, thus ______ (IMG) in the, ______ (IMG) for the.

Three principles which remain to be noticed are of such import ance and advantage that any one of them would go far to place phonography at the head of all other systems. These are the principles of positional writing, similar outlines, and phraseography. (1) The first slanting stroke of a word can generally be written so as either to lie entirely above the line, or rest on the line, or run through the line, thus—______ (IMG). In the case of words composed wholly of horizontal strokes the last two positions (on and through the line) coincide, as ______ (IMG). These three positions are called first, second, and third respectively. The first is specially connected with first-place vowels (_, _; aw, _; î, oi), the second with second-place vowels (_, _; _, _), and the third with third-place vowels (ee, _; __, __; ou). In a fully vocalized style position is not employed, but in the reporting style it is of the greatest use. Thus the outline (tm) written above the line ______ (IMG) must be read either time or Tom; when written resting on the line ______ (IMG) teem, team, or tomb. By this method the number of possible readings of an unvocalized outline is greatly reduced. That word in each posi-tional group which occurs the most frequently need not be vocalized, but the others should. In the case of dissyllables it is the accented vowel which decides the position; thus methoúght should be written first position ; thus methoúght should be written first position ______ (IMG), méthod second position ______ (IMG). (2)Another way of distinguishing between words having the same consonants but different vowels is to vary the outline. The possibility of variety of outline arises from the fact that many consonant-sounds have duplicate or even triplicate signs, as we have seen. For instance, r has two lineal signs and a hook sign, and so each of the words carter, curator, creature, and creator obtains a distinct outline. A few simple rules direct the student to a proper choice of outline, but some difference of practice obtains among phonographers in this respect. Lists of outlines for words having the same con-sonants are given in the instruction books; the Reporter’s Assistant contains the outline of every word written with not more than three strokes, and the Phonographic Dictionary gives the vocalized out-line of every word in the language. Aided by a true phonetic representation of sounds, by occasional vocalization, variety of outline, and the context, the phonographic verbatim reporter should never misread a word.1 (3) Lastly, phraseography. It has been found that in numberless cases two or more words may be written without lifting the pen. A judicious use of this practice promotes legibility, and the saving of time is very considerable. Words written thus should be closely connected in sense and awk-ward joinings avoided. Such phrases are ______ (IMG) I am, ______ (IMG) I have, ______ (IMG) you are, ______ (IMG) you may, ______ (IMG) it would, ______ (IMG) it would not, ______ (IMG) we are, ______ (IMG) we have, GRREK we have not, ______ (IMG) we have never been, ______ (IMG) my dear friends. In a very short time, as far as possible, for the most part, and many thousands of others.

For the sake of obtaining a good phraseogram for a common phrase, it is often advisable to omit some part of the consonant outline. Thus the phrase you must recollect that may very well be written ______ (IMG) (you mus recollec that). Lists of recommended phraseograms are given in the Phonographic Phrase Book, the Legal Phrase Book, and the Railway Phrase Book.

Specimens of Phonography.

Corresponding Style.

______ (IMG).

KEY.—If all the feelings of a patriot glow in our bosoms on a perusal of those eloquent speeches which are delivered in the senate, or in those public assemblies where the people are frequently convened to exercise the birthright of Britons—we owe it to shorthand. If new fervour be added to our devotion, and an additional stimulus be imparted to our exertions as Christians, by the eloquent appeals and encouraging statements made at the anniversaries of our various religious societies—we owe it to shorthand. If we have an opportunity in interesting judicial cases, of examining the evidence, and learning the proceedings with as much certainty, and nearly as much minuteness, as if we had been present on the occasion—we owe it to shorthand.

Reporting Style.

______ (IMG)

KEY (the phraseograms being indicated by hyphens).—

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE AGE.—The peculiar and distinguishing characteristics of the present -age are -in every respect remarkable. Unquestionably an extraordinary and uni-versal-change has commenced in-the internal as-well-as-the external-world--in-the-mind-of-man as-well-as in-the habits of society, the one indeed being-the necessary-consequence of the other. A rational consideration of the circumstanes in-which-mankind are at-present placed must-show-us that influences of the most-important and wonderful character have-been and are operating in--such-a-manner-as-to bring-about if-not-a reformation, a thorough revolution in--the-organization of society. Never in-the-history-of-the-world have benevolent and philanthropic institutions for -the relief of domestic and public affliction ; societies for-the promotion of manufacturing, commercial, and agricultural interests ; associations for-the instruction of the masses, the advancement of literature and science, the development of-true political-principles, for-the extension in-short of-every description of knowledge and-the-bringing-about of-every kind-of reform,-been-so numerous, so efficient, and so indefatigable in-their operation as at-the-present-day.

Of the numerous systems published since the invention of phonography the principal are A. M. Bell’s Stenophonography (Edinburgh, 1852), Professor J. D. Everett’s (London, 1877), Pocknell’s Legible Shorthand (London, 1881), and J. M. Sloan’s adaptation of the French system of Duployé (1882). Of these Professor Everett’s must be pronounced much the best. The author claims to have adhered to the phonetic principle more strictly than Mr Pitman. Thus he distinguishes the o in home, comb, from that in so, and treats ur, er as a diphthong. The alphabet is very like Mr Pitman’s in construction, light and heavy sounds being represented by light and heavy strokes. The chief feature of the system is that all vowels are marked in. This is done by joined signs, by lengthening the preceding consonant, by separating the preceding from the following consonant, by lifting the pen and writing the one consonant attached to the other, and by intersec-tion. Mr Pocknell, in his somewhat bewildering system, seeks (like Mr Melville Bell) to provide a method of indi-cating whether a consonant is preceded or followed by a vowel or vowels. To this end he gives to each consonant three linear signs (two curves and a straight line), the requisite number of signs being made up by using three lengths of stroke. The selection of the right sign is deter-mined by the length and class of the words represented. Much energy is devoted to indicate where a vowel stands, but not to what it is. The vowels, when expressed, are disjoined, as in phonography and most systems. Though Mr Bell’s too elaborate classification of vowels is adopted, the phonetic method of representing consonants is frequently discarded in favour of the alphabetic. Thus, no sign is provided for zh (as in vision), and the barbarous gh (as in bright) is often retained "for the sake of legi-bility." Mr Pocknell goes back to the antiquated device of pictorial and arbitrary signs. The Sloan-Duployan system, which has been vigorously propagated, and which has given rise to considerable discussion, does not provide alphabetical characters for all the vowels and consonants in the language, contents itself with representing not actual but "approximate" sounds, does not always in-dicate the order in which the characters should be read, recommends the frequent omission of consonants and syllables at the "discretion" of the student, avoids angles, and introduces three slopes, instead of one, between the perpendicular and the horizontal.

A considerable number of American systems, as well as systems based on Taylor’s and Gurney’s, were issued during the early days of the republic. Since the introduction of phonography into the States in 1845, the dissemination of the art has gone steadily forward, and its use since 1880 has been greatly on the increase, shorthand being now taught in a large number of schools. From elaborate statistics given in Mr Rockwell’s Circular of Information it appears that during 1882 10,197 persons received in-struction in schools and classes and 2273 by correspond-ence. But these figures probably bear no proportion to the number of persons studying without a teacher. In almost every case phonography, or a modification of it, was selected for instruction. American shorthand societies are very numerous, most of them having been formed since 1880. Two are devoted to the Stolzean system. Of the fourteen shorthand magazines which Mr Rockwell enumerates eleven are phonographic.

In nine cases out of ten phonography will be found admirably adapted to the purposes of verbatim reporting. But to be legible it must be written with care. This necessity arises from its brevity and its use of light and heavy, halved and double-length strokes. Hence a clumsy scribe may find a longer system, such as Gurney’s, answer his purpose better. A theoretical knowledge of most systems may be gained in a few hours. Pitman’s method is not so easily acquired, but an intelligent person can master its details in a few weeks. Shorthand writing is, however, mainly a matter of practice. Few can make any considerable use of it with less than six months’ assiduous practice. The average rate of public speaking is very slightly over 120 words a minute. Some speakers average 150. The slowest utterance is now and then exchanged for a rapid flow of words, and 180 or 200 words a minute is no uncommon speed in certain styles of speech such as the conversational,—a speed which many persons would never acquire.1 Most persons of average intelligence may by perseverance write with certainty at 150 words a minute. The best method of practice in the early period is to write at dictation from a book; in public speaking the frequent pauses help the writer to regain lost time. The student should write on ruled paper, which checks the tendency to a large sprawling hand when following a rapid speaker. Taylor’s, Gurney’s, and Lewis’s systems can be written without lines, but Pitman’s only at a dis-advantacre. Ink is preferable to pencil.

Shorthand was first employed officially in the service of Parliament in 1802, when a resolution was passed that "the evidence given before all committees inquiring into the election of members should or might be reported by a person well skilled in the art of writing shorthand," and shortly afterwards W. B. Gurney was appointed shorthand--writer in this capacity to both Houses of Parliament. In 1813 a further resolution was passed by both Houses that the official writer "should attend by himself or sufficient deputy when called upon to take minutes of evidence at the bar of this House or in committees of the same." The lucrative office of shorthand-writer to both Houses of Par-liament is still held by the Gurney family. Of course most of the work is done by deputy. Some of the most efficient members of Messrs Gurney’s staff are phono-graphers; others use Taylor’s system. The amount of evidence given in the course of a tolerably long day’s sitting may amount to 400 or 500 folios (72 words make a folio), which would occupy from 12 to 15 columns of the Times in small type. The whole must often be tran-scribed and delivered to the printers in the course of the night, and copies, damp from the press, are in the hands of the members and "parties" at the beginning of the sitting on the following day. Since parliament abolished election-committees and committed to judges the duty of inquiring into petitions against the return of a member, an official shorthand writer has to be in attendance upon the judge appointed to hear any particular case. He has often a small staff of assistants. Messrs Gurney or their representatives are also required to attend the sittings of the House of Lords as a court of appeal to take the judgments of the law lords. Finally, Government shorthand--writers are often employed in taking notes of important state-trials and inquiries conducted by the various depart-ments of Government, as well as of the proceedings of Royal Commissions, whenever the evidence of witnesses is taken.1 The transcription of the notes may be accomplished in several ways, as by dictating from different parts of the notes to several longhand- writers simultaneously.2 Not all the newspaper parliamentary reporters can take a perfect note, and cases occur in which the reporter enters the gallery without being able to write shorthand at all.


German.—C. A. Ramsay’s Tacheographia (Frankfort, 1679, and several times afterwards until 1743) was an adaptation of T. Shelton’s English system. Mosengeil (1797) first practically introduced shorthand writing into Germany in an adaptation of the Taylor-Bertin method. Reischl’s (1808) is a modification of Mosengeil’s. On Harstig’s (1797) are based those of an anonymous writer (Nuremberg, 1798), Heim (1820), Then (1825), an anonymous author (Tübingen, 1830), Nowack (1830), Ineichen (1831), an anonymous author (Munich, 1831), and Binder (1855). Mosengeil published a second system (1819) in which Horstig’s alphabet is used. On the Mosengeil-Horstig system are based Berthold’s (1819) and Stärk’s (1822). On Danzer’s (1800), a close imitation of Taylor’s, is based that of Ellison v. Nidlef (1820). Other systems are those of Leichtlen (1819); J. Brede (1827) ; Nowack (1834), a system in which the ellipse is employed as well as the circle; Billharz (1838) ; Cämmerer (1848), a modification of Selwyn’s phonography (1847) ; Schmitt (1850); Fischbäck (1857), a reproduction of Taylor’s ; and that of an anonymous author (1872), based on Horstig, Mosengeil, and Heim. Nowack, in his later method of 1834, makes a new departure in avoiding right or obtuse angles, an d in endeavouring to approximate to ordinary writing. This system Gabelsberger considered to be the best which had appeared down to that date. F. X. Gabelsberger’s Anleitung zur deutsche Redezeichenkunst (Munich, 1834) is the most important of the German systems. The author, an official attached to the Bavarian ministry, commenced his system for private purposes, but was induced to perfect it on account of the summoning of a parliament for Bavaria in 1819. Submitted to public examination in 1829, it was pronounced satisfactory, the report stating that pupils taught on this system executed their trial specimens with the required speed, and read what they had written, and even what others had written, with ease and certainty. The method is based on modifications of geometrical forms, designed to suit the position of the hand in ordinary writing. The author considered that a system composed of simple geometrical strokes forming determinate angles with each other was unadapted to rapid writing. He does not recognize all the varieties of sound, and makes some distinctions which are merely orthographical. Soft sounds have small, light, and round signs, while the hard sounds have large, heavy, and straight signs. The signs too are derived from the current alphabet, so that one can find the former contained in the latter. Vowels standing between consonants are not literally inserted, but symbolically indicated by either position or shape of the surrounding consonants, without however leaving the straight writing line. The proceedings of the chambers in Austria, Bavaria, Baden, Würtemberg, Saxony, Saxe-Weimar, Coburg-Gotha, Silesia, and the Rhine provinces are reported solely by writers of this method, and half the stenographers in the German reichstag use it. There are in Germany and Austria more than 540 societies containing over 20,000 members devoted to it. It is officially taught in all the middle class schools of Bavaria, Saxony, and Austria. It has been adapted to foreign languages to such an extent that legislative proceedings are reported by it in Prague, Agram, Pesth, Sophia, Athens, Copenhagen, Christiania, Stockholm, and Helsingfors. On Gabelsberger’s system is based that of W. Stolze (1840). There are nearly 400 Stolzean associations with over 8000 members. The system is officially used in the Prussian, German, and Hungarian parliaments, in the last two along with Gabelsberger’s. Faulmann (Vienna, 1875) attempted in his Phonographie to combine the two methods. While Gabelsberger’s system has remained unchanged in principle, Stolze’s has split into two divisions, the old and the new. These contain many smaller factions, e.g., Velten’s (1876) and Adler’s (1877). Arends’s (1860) is copied from the French system of Fayet. Roller’s (1874) and Lehmann’s (1875) are offshoots of Arends’s. Many other methods have appeared and as rapidly been forgotten. The schools of Gabelsberger and Stolze can boast of a very extensive shorthand literature. Gabelsberger’s system has been adapted to English by A. Geiger (Dresden, 1860 and 1873), who adhered too closely to the German original, and more successfully by H. Richter (London, 1886), and Stolze’s by G. Michaelis (Berlin, 1863).

French.—The earliest French system worthy of notice is that of Coulon de Thévenot (1777), in which the vowels are disjoined from the consonants. The methods practised at the present day may be divided into two classes, those derived from Taylor’s English system, translated in 1791 by T. P. Bertin, and those invented in France. The latter are (a) Coulon de Thévenot’s ; (b) systems founded on the principle of the inclination of the usual writing,—the best known being those of Fayet (1832) and Sénocg (1842) ; and (c) systems derived from the method of Conen de Prépéan (5 editions from 1813 to 1833). Prévost, who till 1870 directed the stenographic service of the senate, produced the best modification of Taylor. Many authors have copied and spoilt this system of Prévost. The best known are Plantier (1844) and Tondeur (1849). Zeibig thinks well of A. Delaunay’s improvements on Prévost’s system. On Conen’s are based those of Aimé-Paris (1822), Cadrès-Marmet (1828), Potel (1842), the Duployé brothers (1868), Guénin, &c. Among amateur writers the Duployan method is best known, owing largely to vigorous pushing, but the profession class it among the least efficient of all. Of the forty writers in the official service of parliament twenty-two use Prévost’s and those founded on it (all based ultimately on Taylor’s), while ten employ methods based on Conen’s.

Spanish.—The father of Spanish stenography was Don Francisco de Paula Marti, whose system, first published in 1803, still holds its ground against all rivals. The alphabet is a combination of Taylor’s and Coulon’s. By decree of 21st November 1802 a public professorship of shorthand was founded in Madrid, Marti being the first professor. Founded on Marti’s system are those of Serra y Ginesta (1816) and Xamarillo (1811). Of the thirty-two Spanish systems enumerated by Zeibig many are merely imitations or reproductions of Marti’s, and adaptations of Gabelsberger’s, Stolze’s, and Pitman’s systems. That of Garriga y Maril (1863) has attained some popularity in Spain.

Portuguese.—Marti’s son carried his father’s system to Portugal, where shorthand is still entirely unknown except in the parliament and the courts. Of the twenty reporters in the senate and chamber at Buenos Ayres ten use Pitman’s phonography, six Marti’s, and the rest Garriga’s. A shorthand society was organized in Buenos Ayres in 1880. The systems used in the Brazilian chambers are those of Silva Velho (1852) and Garriga. The reporters in the assembly of Venezuela use Marti’s method.

Italian.—Italian translations and adaptations of Taylor’s system succeeded one another in considerable numbers from Amanti (1809) to Bianchini (1871). Delpino’s (1819) is the best. The Gabelsberger -Noe system (1863) is the only other which has gained many followers. Since 1885 the debates of the senate have been partly reported by the Michela stenographic machine with fair results.

Dutch.—J. Reijner’s Dutch method (1673) was an adaptation of Shelton’s and Bussuijt’s (1814) of Conen’s system. Sommerhausen and Bossaert (1829) received prizes from the Government for their productions. The twelve stenographers employed in the parliament use the system of Cornelis Steger (1867), president of the bureau, who translated Taylor’s work and has written a history of short-hand. Gabelsberger’s system was transferred to Dutch by Rietstap (1869) and Stolze’s by Reinbold (1881).

Adaptations of Gabelsberger’s method have come into use in the remaining countries of Europe, superseding all others.

Numerous mechanical reporting machines have been invented. The best is by Michela mentioned above. For a description of such machines see Phonetic Journal for 1881, p. 274 ; 1884, pp. 12, 34, 35 ; 1885, pp. 52, 268, 278, 291, 447; 1886, p. 22. They take as long to learn as a shorthand system, cannot easily be carried about, are liable to get out of order, and make a noise.

Sources of Information.—J. W. Zeibig’s Geschichte u. Literatur der Geschwindschreibkunst (Dresden, 1878) contains an historical sketch of the use of shorthand in ancient and modern times (especially in Germany), a full bibliography of shorthand literature in all languages, a number of lithographed specimens, and a useful index. Circulars of Information of the Bureau of Education, No. 2, 1884 (Washington, 1885), by J. E. Rockwell, contains a very complete and accurate bibliography of English and American shorthand publications, a chronological list of 483 English and American shorthand authors, notices on shorthand in the United States, on the employment of stenographers in the American courts, on American shorthand societies and magazines, and a beautifully engraved sheet of 112 shorthand alphabets. The Phonetic Journal, especially the recent volumes, contains a mass of information on shorthand subjects. Isaac Pitman’s History of Shorthand (reprinted in the Phonetic Journal of 1884) reviews the principal English systems previous to phono-graphy, and a few foreign ones. The author draws largely on J. H. Lewis’s Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of Stenography (London, 1816). Other histories of shorthand are by F. X. Gabelsberger (prefixed to his Anleitung zur deutschen Redezeicheitkunst, Munich, 1834), A. Fossé (prefixed to his Cours théorique et pratique de Stéiographie, Paris, 1849), Scott de Martinville (Paris, 1849), M. Levy (London, 1862), and T. Anderson (London, 1882). Here too should be mentioned J. Heger’s Bemerkenswerthes über die Stenographie (Vienna, 1841), mainly historical; J. Anders’s Entwurf einer allgemeinen Gesch. it. Lit. d. Stenographie (Coeslin, 1855); R. Fischer’s Die Stenographie nach Geschichte, Wesen, it. Bedeutung (Leipsic, 1860) ; Krieg’s Katechismus der Stenographie (Leipsic, 1876) ; Dr Westby-Gibson’s Early Shorthand Systems (London, 1882); T. Anderson’s Shorthand Systems, with a number of specimens (London, 1884); T. A. Reed’s Reporter’s Guide (London, 1885) and Leaves from the Notebook of T. A. Reed (London, 1885). Mr C. Walford’s Statistical Review of the Literature of Shorthand (London, 1885) contains valuable information on the circulation of shorthand books and on shorthand libraries. The largest stenographic library in the world is that of the Royal Stenographic Institute at Dresden. (L. G. N. K. F.).


FOOTNOTES (page 836)

(1) For instances, see Zeibig’s Geschichte u. Lit. der Geschwindschreibkunst (Dresden, 1878), pp. 67-79. For John of Tilbury’s system (c. 1175), see especially Shorthand, No. 5, and Hermes, viii. p. 303.

(2) The Bodleian Library contains the only known copy of Bright’s book. For a description of the system, see Phonetic Journal, 1884, p. 86 ; Circulars of Information of the Bureau of Education (Washington), No. 2, 1884, p. 8 ; and Notes and Queries, 2d ser., vol. ii , p. 394. A is represented by a straight line, the other letters of the alphabet by a straight line with a hook, circle, or tick added at the beginning. Each alphabetic sign placed in various positions, and having some additional mark at the end, was used to indicate arbitrarily chosen words beginning with a, b, c, d, &c. There were four slopes given to each letter and twelve ways of varying the base, so that forty-eight words could be written under each letter of the alphabet if necessary. Thus the sign for b with different terminal marks and written in four different directions signified a number of words commencing with b ; 537 such signs had to be learned by heart. By adding certain external marks these signs were applied to other words : thus by writing a dot in one of two positions with respect to a sign the latter was made to represent either a synonym or a word of opposite meaning. Under air are given as synonyms breath, exhalation, mist, reek, steam, vapour. The best account of Bright is given in the Dictionary of National Biography, vol. vi. (1886).

(3) Bales’s method was to group the words in dozens, each dozen headed by a Roman letter, with certain commas, periods, and other marks to be placed about each letter in their appropriate situations, so as to distinguish the words from each other. For an account of Bales, see Wood’s Athen. Oxon.,vol. i. col. 655, and the Dict. of Nat. Biog., vol. iii. (1885).

(4) The first edition, published anonymously, is entitled The Art, of Stenogrophie . . . wherevnto is annexed a very easie Direction for Steganographie, or Secret Writing, printed at London in 1602 for Cuthbert Burbie. The only known copy is in the Bodleian Library.

FOOTNOTES (page 837)

(1) See a paper by J. E. Bailey, "On the Cipher of Pepys’ Diary," in Papers of the Manchester Literary Club, vol. ii. (1876).

(2) See Zeibig’s Gesch. u. Lit. d. Geschwindschreibkunst, p. 195.

(3) Pleasant Dialogues and Drammas (London, 1637), p. 249.

(4) See M. Levy’s Shakspere and Shorthand (London), and Phonetic Journal, 1885, p. 34.

(5) This curiosity is described in the Phonetic Journal, 1885, pp. 158,196. The Bodleian Library has a copy.

(6) Byrom’s private journal and literary remains have been published by the Chetham Society of Manchester. See, too, a paper by J. E. Bailey in the Phonetic Journal, 1875, pp. 109, 121.

FOOTNOTE (page 838)

1 For early English systems, see especially some careful papers by Mr A. Paterson in Phonetic Journal (1886).

FOOTNOTE (page 839)

1 Phonography is so legible that the experiment of handing the shorthand notes to phonographic compositors has often been tried with complete success. A speech of Richard Cobden, on the Corn Laws, delivered at Bath on 17th September 1845, and occupying an hour and a quarter, was reported almost verbatim, and the notes, with a few vowels filled in, handed to the compositors of the Bath Journal, who set them up with the usual accuracy. A notice of the occurrence appeared the next day in the Bath Journal, and was immedi-ately transferred to the columns of the Times and other newspapers. Mr. Reed has tried the saine experiment with equal success, the notes being handed to the compositors in their original state (Phonetic Journal, 1884, p. 337). In Mr Pitman’s printing -office at Bath more type-setting is done from shorthand copy than from longhand. Of course it is generally unadvisable to print a speech verbatim, but much time would be saved if the reporter could write his copy in the "corresponding" or less brief and more vocalized style of phonography. Compositors could acquire the faculty of reading phonography in a very short time.

FOOTNOTE (page 840)

(1) Phenomenal rates of speed are recorded in the Phonetic Journal for 1885, p. 338. Mr T. A. Reed, the veteran phonographer, had been engaged to report a well-known American divine preaching at West-minster Abbey. The sermon was carefully timed, and the words in the printed report counted. The average came out at 213 words a minute. A photographed specimen page of Mr Reed’s notes on this occasion is given in the Reporters’ Magazine, September 1885.

FOOTNOTES (page 841)

1 There is no full official report of the debates in the British Parlia-ment (as in most other countries), and technically no person has a right to report them. The House may be cleared at any moment of all strangers, including representatives of the press, by an order of the House as a whole. On seven occasions of note resolutions have been passed prohibiting the reporting of the proceedings of the House of Commons, the last on 25th March 1771. But times have changed, and members now frequently complain that their speeches are not reported. To supply the deficiencies of the newspapers arrangements have been made by the House with Mr Hansard for the special reporting of debates in committee and those occurring at an early hour in the morning, which are given only in the most summary form in the daily papers. Formerly all Hansard’s reports were collected from those appearing in the newspapers. See further Mr S. Whitaker’s Parliamentary Reporting in England, Foreign Countries, and the Colonies, with notes on Parliamentary Privilege (Manchester, 1878).

(2) On the best methods of transcribing and dictating, see Mr T. A. Reed’s papers in the Phonetic Journal, 1886, pp. 10, 33, 45.

The above article was written by: The Hon. Ion G. N. Keith-Falconer, M.A.

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