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Shorthand Overview

Most traditional shorthand systems use a phonetic representation of a word as opposed to the way it is spelled. English spelling has 50 speech sounds and 26 letters to represent them.

Here are the issues you will face learning symbol-based shorthand. First, all shorthand systems based on assigning a unique outline to a specific word and require a very considerable time to memorize tens of thousands of outlines. Second, a large number of shorthand outlines demands constant practice on a daily basis to remember all memorized symbols including the ones you haven't used but you might use them in the future. Third, depending on the form and thickness of symbols it might translate to different meaning and transcription often represents a problem. Fourth, symbol-based shorthand systems cannot be used with a computer.

To make up for the missing symbols, several letters are often combined to represent a sound. This wouldn't be so difficult if a consistency could be established. For instance, the "sh" sound can be spelled in many different ways: facial, sure, she, pension, issue, commission, station.

The vowel letters can be spelled in various ways. The "oo" sound has many different spellings: dune, juicy, clue, troupe, fruit, through, maneuver, wooed, troops, ooze, new, rheumatism, prove, cruise, toe, two, spoon, to. If all English words are counted, there are 28 different spellings for each sound, or over 1,100 ways to spell 40 sounds.

Writing phonetically reduces the number of symbols per word but requires a very long time to learn tens of thousands of outlines. In addition, phonetically-based shorthand can be only read by the person who wrote the symbols and information exchange cannot be done easily.

Pitman Shorthand | details

Pitman Shorthand

Developed by Isaac Pitman in 1837 and is mostly used in England. It is based on geometrical curves and lines in varying lengths and angles written on lined paper. Different pairs of sounds are written thin or thick strokes using a special flexible fountain pen tip. The shorthand outlines vary in sound depending on a number of rules.

The Pitman system is a unique phonetic alphabet and diacritical marks have to be added alongside the lines to indicate vowels increasing the system's complexity. Practicing and building up speed is difficult because Pitman system has a large number of rules and short-forms. It can be compared to mastering of a foreign language when you learn to read and write.

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Gregg Shorthand | details

Gregg Shorthand

Gregg shorthand was created by John Robert Gregg in 1888 and is based on writing the sounds of words using cursive lines, curves and loops. Gregg shorthand outlines have forward slope and forms similar to cursive handwriting. The Gregg alphabet is based on the oval with size variations designating different sets of related sounds. Connected hooks and circles represent the vowels. Vowels and consonants are written together in pairs to be continuous and are represented by short and long strokes. A significant drawback is that short and long outlines designate different letters, which may cause confusion if the size is incorrectly written. In addition, each vowel symbol can represent several possible vowel sounds which increases system's difficulty.

Reviewing Gregg Shorthand Dictionary emphasizes the inherent ambiguities of the system and the amount of time required to memorize tens of thousands of outlines. Gregg Shorthand is highly cursive and it is not easily readable. Gregg Shorthand abbreviations must be immediately translated and a considerable effort would be required if transcription is not done right away.

Learning Gregg Shorthand requires an extended period of time and constant practicing to keep a large number of outlines in your memory. It's likely that for some words you will not remember their outlines. Also, Gregg shorthand has outlines only for 28,000 words which means you will have to create outlines or abbreviations for the missing words on your own. You can easily combine the Gregg and EasyScript to reduce the learning time and the volume of memorization. EasyScript enables you to create abbreviations for any word and they can be used for the words that are particularly difficult to remember or for which Gregg shorthand outlines are not available.

To date, 99% of all schools in the United States have discontinued offering Gregg Shorthand citing the amount of time (up 2 years) required to learn and attain proficiency.

Teeline Shorthand |  details

Teeline Shorthand is mostly taught in the United Kingdom and is virtually unknown elsewhere. James Hill, an instructor of Pitman Shorthand, developed it in 1970. Teeline system does not require using thick/thin lines or diacritical marks. It is a hybrid system based on the standard alphabet and writing a partial outline of each letter. Teeline shorthand utilizes the same principle as all other shorthand methods by assigning a unique outline to each word. It requires a long learning curve and daily practicing all the time. As with all symbol-based systems, Teeline needs to be transcribed as soon as possible to prevent spending additional time later.

Quickscript Shorthand |  details

The Quickscript was designed by Kingsley Read in the 1970s. Quickscript uses the semi-cursive form by writing a partial line of each letter. You need to memorize the half-letters, the alternate letters and the optional letters as well as the specialized brackets. Quickscript letters are connected wherever is possible. For this purpose it has alternate forms for same words which considerably increases the learning curve. Graphic representations of consonants and vowels are rotated or mirrored of other letters. Many letters and sounds have multiple designations. For example, letter t can be written in three ways and the sound of ' x ' is created with two characters ks and gz.

Steno-Based System

The steno-based system consists of three basic components: a computer-compatible stenographic machine, a laptop, and the software needed to transcribe the stenographic input of speech and display it as text. A 24-key machine is used to encode spoken words into a computer where it is converted into English text and displayed on a computer screen or television monitor in real time. Generally, the text is produced verbatim.

This system is called CART (Computer-Aided Real-Time Transcription), an apt acronym in view of the fact that steno typists often transport their equipment from one location to another on wheels. CART can be used in the courts and classrooms for deaf and hard hearing students. It permits the steno typist to attained high speeds because several keys are pressed simultaneously as opposed to conventional sequential typing.

The following chart shows examples of steno code and their corresponding English words:

Sample words: WRITING, ON, THE, MACHINE, KEYBOARD

Steno code: WREUG O, -T, PH-PB/APS, KAOE/PWORD

ComputerScript code: WRIG, ON, H, MH, K/BD

Mastering steno typing requires attending a stenographic or court-reporting school for two years. Due to long time and high costs of stenotype training, computer-assisted note taking can serve as a viable option. Computer-aided note taking (CAN) systems, like steno-based systems, are used primarily in the classrooms and courts to translate speech into text in real time. Similar to steno-based systems, CAN provides an edited or unedited copy of the text.

Unlike steno-based systems, CAN involves the use of a standard keyboard by pressing one key at a time. Substitution of handwriting notes with typing enables the typist increase the speed of input in order to capture more spoken information. Further speed increases can be achieved by utilizing abbreviated text input. Existing typing abbreviation systems (Instant Text, Productivity Plus, ShortCut Windows and Abbreviate) assign a unique code to each word. You will need to memorize tens of thousands of abbreviations to type efficiently. If you don't remember the codes you will not able to retrieve a corresponding full word.

In contrast, ComputerScript assigns all words to five basic categories and you only need to learn one rule per specific category. As a result, learning curve and memorization volume are drastically reduced and attaining proficiency can be achieved in a short period of time.

Demos

"The Easy Script course changed the way I take shorthand forever. I had gotten the Easy Script I course in the mail. I had read the manual and used the auto tutor tape. What I like about the Easy Script method is that it has 5 basic rules that reinforce basic English. I concur with the ad in saying that it is easier to remember 5 basic rules to retain what is taught than to memorize 20 or 30 rules and not learn anything.

As soon as I opened the ES I package, I started on Lesson 1. One of the parts that I liked is the positional technique of the words. (first 4, 2+2, 3+1) As I've said, this method reinforces basic English skills that I've learned in high school and in college. After I've finished Lesson 1, my appetite for learning more Easy Script was whetted. So, I moved on to Lesson 2. Easy Script has the fixed rules for words, but lets you use common abbreviations that have been used all along. Such as dates, days of the week, months of the year, directions, etc.

The next night of my Easy Script I course, I did Lessons 3-5. I feel as if I've learned something and accomplished something in my life. In office skills, typing, word processing and shorthand are required. Until I've ordered the ES Course, my options were pretty limited insofar as office skills. As I've said previously, I've tried, Speedwriting, Gregg and ABC Stenoscript. The reason I got frustrated was that all three of the systems had too many rules and the systems were inflexible. I never had that problem with Easy Script because you can omit vowels in some words.

Another wonderful thing about this method is that regular longhand words become a type of code. I work for the Federal Government and I notate things and I find myself writing in ES language. For example, "started" becomes "strd", "consideration" becomes "csidh", etc. I find myself writing longhand words down and finding code words using the ES fixed rules.

Now, I'm writing Proper Names, States, Countries all with Easy Script. I think that is money well spent on ES I. I really have confidence in my shorthand abilities. So far, my writing is now 29 wpm and I hope to reach 40 wpm. My personal goal is to write ES at 80 wpm.

I want to thank you for inventing a painless system of shorthand writing and making it accessible and affordable to the public. As soon as my finances are together, I'm going to order ES II. Again, I thank you for this alternative to traditional shorthand writing!" - Henrietta Hudson, Newark, NJ

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