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"Stenography" redirects here. Shorthand_sentence_0

For the process of concealing information in messages, see steganography. Shorthand_sentence_1

For machine stenography, see stenotype. Shorthand_sentence_2

Shorthand is an abbreviated symbolic writing method that increases speed and brevity of writing as compared to longhand, a more common method of writing a language. Shorthand_sentence_3

The process of writing in shorthand is called stenography, from the Greek stenos (narrow) and graphein (to write). Shorthand_sentence_4

It has also been called brachygraphy, from Greek brachys (short), and tachygraphy, from Greek tachys (swift, speedy), depending on whether compression or speed of writing is the goal. Shorthand_sentence_5

Many forms of shorthand exist. Shorthand_sentence_6

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. Shorthand_sentence_7

Abbreviation methods are alphabet-based and use different abbreviating approaches. Shorthand_sentence_8

Many journalists use shorthand writing to quickly take notes at press conferences or other similar scenarios. Shorthand_sentence_9

In the computerized world, several autocomplete programs, standalone or integrated in text editors, based on word lists, also include a shorthand function for frequently used phrases. Shorthand_sentence_10

Shorthand was used more widely in the past, before the invention of recording and dictation machines. Shorthand_sentence_11

Shorthand was considered an essential part of secretarial training and police work and was useful for journalists. Shorthand_sentence_12

Although the primary use of shorthand has been to record oral dictation or discourse, some systems are used for compact expression. Shorthand_sentence_13

For example, healthcare professionals may use shorthand notes in medical charts and correspondence. Shorthand_sentence_14

Shorthand notes are typically temporary, intended either for immediate use or for later typing, data entry, or (mainly historically) transcription to longhand. Shorthand_sentence_15

Longer term uses do exist, such as encipherment: diaries (like that of Samuel Pepys) are a common example. Shorthand_sentence_16

History Shorthand_section_0

Classical antiquity Shorthand_section_1

The earliest known indication of shorthand systems is from the Parthenon in Ancient Greece, where a mid-4th century BCE inscribed marble slab was found. Shorthand_sentence_17

This shows a writing system primarily based on vowels, using certain modifications to indicate consonants. Shorthand_sentence_18

Hellenistic tachygraphy is reported from the 2nd century BCE onwards, though there are indications that it might be older. Shorthand_sentence_19

The oldest datable reference is a contract from Middle Egypt, stating that Oxyrhynchos gives the "semeiographer" Apollonios for two years to be taught shorthand writing. Shorthand_sentence_20

Hellenistic tachygraphy consisted of word stem signs and word ending signs. Shorthand_sentence_21

Over time, many syllabic signs were developed. Shorthand_sentence_22

In Ancient Rome, Marcus Tullius Tiro (103–4 BCE), a slave and later a freedman of Cicero, developed the Tironian notes so that he could write down Cicero's speeches. Shorthand_sentence_23

Plutarch (c. 46 – c. 120 CE) in his "Life of Cato the Younger" (95–46 BCE) records that Cicero, during a trial of some insurrectionists in the senate, employed several expert rapid writers, whom he had taught to make figures comprising numerous words in a few short strokes, to preserve Cato's speech on this occasion. Shorthand_sentence_24

The Tironian notes consisted of Latin word stem abbreviations (notae) and of word ending abbreviations (titulae). Shorthand_sentence_25

The original Tironian notes consisted of about 4000 signs, but new signs were introduced, so that their number might increase to as many as 13,000. Shorthand_sentence_26

In order to have a less complex writing system, a syllabic shorthand script was sometimes used. Shorthand_sentence_27

After the decline of the Roman Empire, the Tironian notes were no longer used to transcribe speeches, though they were still known and taught, particularly during the Carolingian Renaissance. Shorthand_sentence_28

After the 11th century, however, they were mostly forgotten. Shorthand_sentence_29

When many monastery libraries were secularized in the course of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation, long-forgotten manuscripts of Tironian notes were rediscovered. Shorthand_sentence_30

Imperial China Shorthand_section_2

See also: Cursive script (East Asia) Shorthand_sentence_31

In imperial China, clerks used an abbreviated, highly cursive form of Chinese characters to record court proceedings and criminal confessions. Shorthand_sentence_32

These records were used to create more formal transcripts. Shorthand_sentence_33

One cornerstone of imperial court proceedings was that all confessions had to be acknowledged by the accused's signature, personal seal, or thumbprint, requiring fast writing. Shorthand_sentence_34

Versions of this technique survived in clerical professions into the modern day, and influenced by Western shorthand methods, some new methods were invented. Shorthand_sentence_35

Europe and North America Shorthand_section_3

An interest in shorthand or "short-writing" developed towards the end of the 16th century in England. Shorthand_sentence_36

In 1588 Timothy Bright published his Characterie; An Arte of Shorte, Swifte and Secrete Writing by Character which introduced a system with 500 arbitrary symbols each representing one word. Shorthand_sentence_37

Bright's book was followed by a number of others, including Peter Bales' The Writing Schoolemaster in 1590, John Willis's Art of Stenography in 1602, Edmond Willis's An abbreviation of writing by character in 1618, and Thomas Shelton's Short Writing in 1626 (later re-issued as Microscopic Editing Software). Shorthand_sentence_38

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. Shorthand_sentence_39

It was also used by Sir Isaac Newton in some of his notebooks. Shorthand_sentence_40

Shelton borrowed heavily from his predecessors, especially Edmond Willis. Shorthand_sentence_41

Each consonant was represented by an arbitrary but simple symbol, while the five vowels were represented by the relative positions of the surrounding consonants. Shorthand_sentence_42

Thus the symbol for B with symbol for T drawn directly above it represented "bat", while B with T below it meant "but"; top-right represented "e", middle-right "i", and lower-right "o". Shorthand_sentence_43

A vowel at the end of a word was represented by a dot in the appropriate position, while there were additional symbols for initial vowels. Shorthand_sentence_44

This basic system was supplemented by further symbols representing common prefixes and suffixes. Shorthand_sentence_45

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". Shorthand_sentence_46

The reader needed to use the context to work out which alternative was meant. Shorthand_sentence_47

The main advantage of the system was that it was easy to learn and to use. Shorthand_sentence_48

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. Shorthand_sentence_49

Shelton's chief rivals were Theophilus Metcalfe's Stenography or Short Writing (1633) which was in its "55th edition" by 1721, and Jeremiah Rich's system of 1654, which was published under various titles including The penns dexterity compleated (1669). Shorthand_sentence_50

Another notable English shorthand system creator of the 17th century was William Mason (fl. Shorthand_sentence_51

1672–1709) who published Arts Advancement in 1682. Shorthand_sentence_52

Modern-looking geometric shorthand was introduced with John Byrom's New Universal Shorthand of 1720. Shorthand_sentence_53

Samuel Taylor published a similar system in 1786, the first English shorthand system to be used all over the English-speaking world. Shorthand_sentence_54

Thomas Gurney published Brachygraphy in the mid-18th century. Shorthand_sentence_55

In 1834 in Germany, Franz Xaver Gabelsberger published his Gabelsberger shorthand. Shorthand_sentence_56

Gabelsberger based his shorthand on the shapes used in German cursive handwriting rather than on the geometrical shapes that were common in the English stenographic tradition. Shorthand_sentence_57

Taylor's system was superseded by Pitman shorthand, first introduced in 1837 by English teacher Sir Isaac Pitman, and improved many times since. Shorthand_sentence_58

Pitman's system has been used all over the English-speaking world and has been adapted to many other languages, including Latin. Shorthand_sentence_59

Pitman's system uses a phonemic orthography. Shorthand_sentence_60

For this reason, it is sometimes known as phonography, meaning "sound writing" in Greek. Shorthand_sentence_61

One of the reasons this system allows fast transcription is that vowel sounds are optional when only consonants are needed to determine a word. Shorthand_sentence_62

The availability of a full range of vowel symbols, however, makes complete accuracy possible. Shorthand_sentence_63

Isaac's brother Benn Pitman, who lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, was responsible for introducing the method to America. Shorthand_sentence_64

The record for fast writing with Pitman shorthand is 350 wpm during a two-minute test by Nathan Behrin in 1922. Shorthand_sentence_65

Nathan Behrin wrote on Pitman shorthand in 1914: Shorthand_sentence_66

In the United States and some other parts of the world it has been largely superseded by Gregg shorthand, which was first published in 1888 by John Robert Gregg. Shorthand_sentence_67

This system was influenced by the handwriting shapes that Gabelsberger had introduced. Shorthand_sentence_68

Gregg's shorthand, like Pitman's, is phonetic, but has the simplicity of being "light-line." Shorthand_sentence_69

Pitman's system uses thick and thin strokes to distinguish related sounds, while Gregg's uses only thin strokes and makes some of the same distinctions by the length of the stroke. Shorthand_sentence_70

In fact, Gregg claimed joint authorship in another shorthand system published in pamphlet form by one Thomas Stratford Malone; Malone, however, claimed sole authorship and a legal battle ensued. Shorthand_sentence_71

The two systems use very similar, if not identical, symbols; however, these symbols are used to represent different sounds. Shorthand_sentence_72

For instance, on page 10 of the manual is the word d i m 'dim'; however, in the Gregg system the spelling would actually mean n u k or 'nook'. Shorthand_sentence_73

Japan Shorthand_section_4

There are several other pen shorthands in use (Ishimura, Iwamura, Kumassaki, Kotani, and Nissokuken), leading to a total of nine pen shorthands in use. Shorthand_sentence_74

In addition, there is the Yamane pen shorthand (of unknown importance) and three machine shorthands systems (Speed Waapuro, Caver and Hayatokun or sokutaipu). Shorthand_sentence_75

The machine shorthands have gained some ascendancy over the pen shorthands. Shorthand_sentence_76

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). Shorthand_sentence_77

There are several semi-cursive systems. Shorthand_sentence_78

Most follow a left-to-right, top-to-bottom writing direction. Shorthand_sentence_79

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. Shorthand_sentence_80

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. Shorthand_sentence_81

Japanese also has its own variously cursive form of writing kanji characters, the most extremely simplified of which is known as Sōsho. Shorthand_sentence_82

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.) Shorthand_sentence_83

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). Shorthand_sentence_84

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. Shorthand_sentence_85

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. Shorthand_sentence_86

(Even today, Japanese writing uses the syllabaries to pronounce or spell out words, or to indicate grammatical words. Shorthand_sentence_87

Furigana are written alongside kanji, or Chinese characters, to indicate their pronunciation especially in juvenile publications. Shorthand_sentence_88

Furigana are usually written using the hiragana syllabary; foreign words may not have a kanji form and are spelled out using katakana.) Shorthand_sentence_89

The new sokki were used to transliterate popular vernacular story-telling theater (yose) of the day. Shorthand_sentence_90

This led to a thriving industry of sokkibon (shorthand books). Shorthand_sentence_91

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. Shorthand_sentence_92

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). Shorthand_sentence_93

Classification Shorthand_section_5

Geometric and script-like systems Shorthand_section_6

Shorthands that use simplified letterforms are sometimes termed stenographic shorthands, contrasting with alphabetic shorthands, below. Shorthand_sentence_94

Stenographic shorthands can be further differentiated by the target letter forms as geometric, script, and semi-script or elliptical. Shorthand_sentence_95

Geometric shorthands are based on circles, parts of circles, and straight lines placed strictly horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Shorthand_sentence_96

The first modern shorthand systems were geometric. Shorthand_sentence_97

Examples include Pitman Shorthand, Boyd's Syllabic Shorthand, Samuel Taylor's Universal Stenography, the French Prévost-Delaunay, and the Duployé system, adapted to write the Kamloops Wawa (used for Chinook Jargon) writing system. Shorthand_sentence_98

Script shorthands are based on the motions of ordinary handwriting. Shorthand_sentence_99

The first system of this type was published under the title Cadmus Britanicus by Simon Bordley, in 1787. Shorthand_sentence_100

However, the first practical system was the German Gabelsberger shorthand of 1834. Shorthand_sentence_101

This class of system is now common in all more recent German shorthand systems, as well as in Austria, Italy, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Russia, other Eastern European countries, and elsewhere. Shorthand_sentence_102

Script-geometric, or semi-script, shorthands are based on the ellipse. Shorthand_sentence_103

Semi-script can be considered a compromise between the geometric systems and the script systems. Shorthand_sentence_104

The first such system was that of George Carl Märes in 1885. Shorthand_sentence_105

However, the most successful system of this type was Gregg shorthand, introduced by John Robert Gregg in 1888. Shorthand_sentence_106

Gregg had studied not only the geometric English systems, but also the German Stolze stenography, a script shorthand. Shorthand_sentence_107

Other examples include Teeline Shorthand and Thomas Natural Shorthand. Shorthand_sentence_108

The semi-script philosophy gained popularity in Italy in the first half of the 20th century with three different systems created by Giovanni Vincenzo Cima, Erminio Meschini, and Stenital Mosciaro. Shorthand_sentence_109

Systems resembling standard writing Shorthand_section_7

Some shorthand systems attempted to ease learning by using characters from the Latin alphabet. Shorthand_sentence_110

Such non-stenographic systems have often been described as alphabetic, and purists might claim that such systems are not 'true' shorthand. Shorthand_sentence_111

However, these alphabetic systems do have value for students who cannot dedicate the years necessary to master a stenographic shorthand. Shorthand_sentence_112

Alphabetic shorthands cannot be written at the speeds theoretically possible with symbol systems—200 words per minute or more—but require only a fraction of the time to acquire a useful speed of between 60 and 100 words per minute. Shorthand_sentence_113

Non-stenographic systems often supplement alphabetic characters by using punctuation marks as additional characters, giving special significance to capitalised letters, and sometimes using additional non-alphabetic symbols. Shorthand_sentence_114

Examples of such systems include Stenoscript, Speedwriting and Forkner shorthand. Shorthand_sentence_115

However, there are some pure alphabetic systems, including Personal Shorthand, SuperWrite, Easy Script Speed Writing, and Keyscript Shorthand which limit their symbols to a priori alphabetic characters. Shorthand_sentence_116

These have the added advantage that they can also be typed—for instance, onto a computer, PDA, or cellphone. Shorthand_sentence_117

Early editions of Speedwriting were also adapted so that they could be written on a typewriter, and therefore would possess the same advantage. Shorthand_sentence_118

Varieties of vowel representation Shorthand_section_8

Shorthand systems can also be classified according to the way that vowels are represented. Shorthand_sentence_119


  • Alphabetic – Expression by "normal" vowel signs that are not fundamentally different from consonant signs (e.g., Gregg, Duployan).Shorthand_item_0_0
  • Mixed alphabetic – Expression of vowels and consonants by different kinds of strokes (e.g., Arends' system for German or Melin's Swedish Shorthand where vowels are expressed by upward or sideway strokes and consonants and consonant clusters by downward strokes).Shorthand_item_0_1
  • Abjad – No expression of the individual vowels at all except for indications of an initial or final vowel (e.g., Taylor).Shorthand_item_0_2
  • Marked abjad – Expression of vowels by the use of detached signs (such as dots, ticks, and other marks) written around the consonant signs.Shorthand_item_0_3
  • Positional abjad – Expression of an initial vowel by the height of the word in relation to the line, no necessary expression of subsequent vowels (e.g., Pitman, which can optionally express other vowels by detached diacritics).Shorthand_item_0_4
  • Abugida – Expression of a vowel by the shape of a stroke, with the consonant indicated by orientation (e.g., Boyd).Shorthand_item_0_5
  • Mixed abugida – Expression of the vowels by the width of the joining stroke that leads to the following consonant sign, the height of the following consonant sign in relation to the preceding one, and the line pressure of the following consonant sign (e.g., most German shorthand systems).Shorthand_item_0_6

Machine shorthand systems Shorthand_section_9

Traditional shorthand systems are written on paper with a stenographic pencil or a stenographic pen. Shorthand_sentence_120

Some consider that strictly speaking only handwritten systems can be called shorthand. Shorthand_sentence_121

Machine shorthand is also a common term for writing produced by a stenotype, a specialized keyboard. Shorthand_sentence_122

These are often used for court room transcripts and in live subtitling. Shorthand_sentence_123

However, there are other shorthand machines used worldwide, including: Velotype; Palantype in the UK; Grandjean Stenotype, used extensively in France and French-speaking countries; Michela Stenotype, used extensively in Italy; and Stenokey, used in Bulgaria and elsewhere. Shorthand_sentence_124

Common modern English shorthand systems Shorthand_section_10

Notable shorthand systems Shorthand_section_11

For a more comprehensive list, see List of shorthand systems. Shorthand_sentence_125


See also Shorthand_section_12

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