Hugh Longbourne Callendar.

A manual of cursive shorthand online

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9 :







Hon&on: c. J. CLAY


Price Two Shillings.

Ex Libris







Honlron: c. J. CLAY AND SONS,


All Rights reserved.



HITHERTO the use of Shorthand has been chiefly con-
fined to clerks and reporters : it has not as yet, to any
appreciable extent, supplanted longhand for use in
ordinary writing.

The reason of this appears to be that the majority of
existing systems are either, like Taylor's, deficient in
completeness (that is, they cannot distinguish words with
sufficient accuracy), or, like Pitman's, involve too many
ambiguities and refinements, and cannot be fully written
at a reasonable speed (see p. 15).

The conditions which a system of shorthand for general
use should satisfy, are discussed at some length in the
Introduction to the present work. The argument is briefly
recapitulated on p. 40, to which the reader is referred for
a summary of the claims of ' Cursive Shorthand'.

The chief features of 'Cursive' are facility, complete-
ness, and freedom from refinements; but it must not
be supposed that it is therefore wanting in brevity. The
ordinary style of Cursive, besides being much clearer,
is also much shorter than the corresponding style* of

* It would not of course be fair to compare the ordinary full style of
Cursive with the reporting style of Pitman's. I mention the point
because I have noticed that Mr Pitman, in a widely circulated pamphlet
on Professor Everett's system, compares a short paragraph written
in the latter's ordinary style, with the same in the most abbreviated
style of Phonography. The two specimens are set side by side "to speak
for themselves ", without the least hint that the comparison is not a fair
one. In the Everett specimen more than 80 vowels are definitely ex-
pressed ; only three are inserted in the Pitman.


iv Preface.

Pitman's. In the reporting style, if equally abbreviated,
Cursive has still the advantage in facility and clearness.
This point is more fully illustrated in the 'Comparison
with Pitman' p. 102, and in the Introduction.

In comparing the two systems it must be remembered
that the primary object of Cursive is general utility, and
that the present manual is not intended to teach the
reporting style. Moreover, Cursive, as its name implies,
was invented with a view to being written with a 'running' 1
hand, and does not show to advantage in a type-metal cut ;
whereas Pitman's, being a 'geometric' system, is specially
adapted to that mode of illustration, but very difficult
to write accurately.

The difficulty of satisfactorily imitating the natural
peculiarities of a ' script ' system in a type-block is so
great that works of this kind are almost invariably illus-
trated by photolithography. I have all the more therefore
to thank the type-cutter, Mr Saunders, whose work in
connection with the illustration of shorthand systems is so
well known, for the great care and skill he has bestowed
on the laborious task of executing the cuts for the present

I wish also to thank my friends, Mr H. M. Innes, M.A.,
Fellow of Trinity College, Mr C. F. Clay, M.A. of Trinity
College, and Mr J. B. Holt, B.A. of Christ's, for their
kindness in reading proof-sheets, and for many valuable
suggestions they have made while the book was passing
through the press: having had the advantage of their
revision the work should be free from serious errors.

Dec. 1888.



1. CURSIVE SHORTHAND is designed to supply the need of a
system sufficiently easy, regular, and legible, for general use,
and at the same time brief enough to be adapted to reporting

The advantages to be derived from a knowledge of short-
hand are sufficiently obvious, and are moreover very fully set
forth by many other writers on the subject. The principles
upon which a good system should be constructed are much less
generally understood. I may be pardoned therefore if in
publishing a new system I proceed at once to the considera-
tion of the principles it involves, taking it for granted that the
reader fully appreciates the benefits resulting from a practical
acquaintance with the art, and seriously desires to master it.

The aim of every shorthand inventor has always been
to produce a system of writing which should be as brief as
is compatible with the conditions that it should also be simple
to learn, easy to write, and easy to read. The widest divergence
of opinion exists, however, in the interpretation of these re-
quirements. The relative importance to be attached to the
qualities of Brevity, Simplicity, Facility, and Legibility, de-
pends in part on the purpose to which shorthand is applied.
For reporting purposes brevity is a most essential condition ;
but for general use legibility is much more indispensable, and
a very high rate of speed is comparatively valueless. The
reason why shorthand is not more generally practised, appears
to me to be that this point is not sufficiently kept in view.

A system adapted for reporting may be more or less un-

2 On tlie Principles of Shorthand.

suitable for general use. For instance, the system known as
Legible Shorthand, by Mr E. Pocknell, was specially con-
structed to secure the greatest possible brevity, and is con-
sequently, as the author himself admits, unnecessarily difficult
and delicate for general use. The same remark applies to
Pitman's system, which, moreover, is much less regular than
PocknelPs. Mr Pitman, however, claims that his system of
phonography is, at once, "as legible as longhand and six times
as brief"*; and "so simple that a child can master it"t.

In explaining the conditions which a system for general use
must satisfy, I have drawn my illustrations mainly from
Pitman's Phonography, both because it claims to be the uni-
versal system J, and because from practical experience I am
well acquainted myself with its merits and drawbacks.

For convenience of arrangement, the subject is divided into
four general headings, (1) Conditions of Facility, (2) of
Simplicity, (3) of Legibility, (4) of Brevity. It must however
be understood that these conditions are not generally indepen-
dent of each other : the conditions of brevity are often opposed
to those of legibility, which again are dependent on those of
facility and simplicity ; other things being equal, the more
simple and facile a system is, the greater the speed with which
it can be legibly written. The suitability of a system for
general use, depends, not on excessive attention to any one
point, such as neatness or brevity of appearance, but on the
blending of all the various qualifications in due proportion.

For a brief summary of the claims of Cursive Shorthand as
a system for general use the reader is referred to p. 40.


2. DISTINCTIONS OF FORM. In order that any kind of
writing may be scribbled without becoming illegible, too fine
distinctions of form must be avoided.

* Tract entitled, "A Persuasive to the Study of Phonography."

t Pitman, Leaflet No. 13.

t During the last year or two several articles have appeared in
Pitman's Journal, asserting that it is the only system fitted for general
use, and advocating its adoption to the exclusion of all others.

Cutiditions of Facility aiid Clearness. 3

In my experience, which I find is endorsed by many skilful
stenographers, and in particular by Professor Everett, it is
impossible in rapid writing to distinguish more than two sizes
of character, as in longhand.

Pitman distinguishes four : for instance
" stands for you or beyond according to position.
^ mt as in might, met, meeting, etc.
^^ m as in me, my, him, may, am, etc.
^ ^ mtr, mdr, or mthr as in matter, mother, etc.

Difference of curvature, by itself, apart from difference of
size or direction, is not a safe means of distinction. For
instance, the Pitman outline ^~\ Ir (liar, lore, allure, lower,
etc.) differs but slightly in shape from m or mtr, and is easily
mistaken for either if badly written.

Difference of direction is a good means of distinction, pro-
vided that too many directions are not recognized. In Cursive
Shorthand four directions are practically distinguished ; the
downstrokes / and \ , the upstroke / , and the horizontal
stroke . Pitman distinguishes the vertical stroke | from the
back downstroke / ; each of these strokes however is some-
times awkward ; by adopting, instead of them, the intermediate
slope / (which may of course have any convenient inclination
between the two extremes), an immense gain of clearness and
facility is secured.

The forward downstroke \ is certainly less facile than the
other directions ; but it is waste of material to reject it al-
together, as so many script systems do : a better plan is to use
it for comparatively rare sounds.

3. DISTINCTION OF THICKNESS. In Pitman's and similar
systems, difference of thickness of stroke is employed to dis-
tinguish pairs of letters like | t and | d, ~~\ r and "^ rch,
s~~~. m and /s mp or mb : it is very difficult in rapid writing to
preserve this distinction accurately, even after years of practice.

It is true that the difference of sound in many of these

4 Conditions of Facility and Clearness.

pairs (as between ( and d) is not very great ; but the confusion,
even in this case, becomes very serious, when more than half
the sounds are omitted, so that the writing is not strictly
phonetic. In Professor Everett's system, which is very strictly
phonetic and literally represents ' talking on paper ', con-
fusion of thickness is not nearly so serious as in Pitman's,
in which the vowels are generally omitted, and the phonetic
principle is otherwise less accurately observed.

In writing with a pencil the distinction of thickness is
particularly difficult to give clearly ; with a stylograph it is
quite impossible to make it at all. Some writers no doubt
possess the light touch required to enable them to preserve
it in a large number of cases when using pen and ink, but
the majority of ordinary folk would probably never acquire
the requisite skill. It must therefore, I think, be regarded as
a device unsuitable for general use.

Cursive Shorthand uses only two sizes of characters, and
does not employ the distinction of thickness. Thus, where
Pitman distinguishes the ten* varieties, \ of, \ all, \ pt,

\ bd, ^ p, "^ b, \w pp, >^ bb, ^^ bp,
N. pb : Cursive Shorthand distinguishes only two, \ , as

in ell, and \. ey, as in they: and so on throughout the
alphabet. It is therefore, on this account alone, much more
easy to write legibly, and much more simple to learn.

It might appear at first sight as though by recognizing five
times as many distinctions it would be possible to make a
system, say, twice as short. This is by no means the case, even
in theory; and as a matter of fact, Pitman's Phonography, as
will appear later, is not only not shorter, but actually takes
very much longer to write than Cursive Shorthand, when
fully written.

* Pitman admits also an occasional treble length in words like
attitude (p. 35). The additional distinction of position (see p. 31) is
applied to many of these signs. Pocknell distinguishes only eight
varieties, and does not use ticks standing alone.

Conditions of Facility and Clearness.


4. With a view to ascertain for my own edification what
sort of combinations were most facile, and what forme
could be most clearly distinguished in rapid writing, I put
together an electric chronograph capable of recording auto-
matically to the hundredth part of a second the time taken to
form any portion of any stroke in any kind of writing. At the
Cambridge laboratories we have every facility for this kind
of work. The clockwork, electro-magnets, and other parts of
such an apparatus being ready to hand, very little has to be
specially constructed. The special portions of the apparatus in
the present case were made after a design suggested by my
friend Mr Horace Darwin ; its performance was all that could
be desired.

The apparatus was so arranged that by comparing the
actual writing with the record on the chronographic cylinder,
a complete solution of the time-question could be obtained.
A great many experiments were made on various kinds of
writing, including specimens of Phonography (Pitman's) by a
skilled reporter. Space would not suffice to give a full descrip-
tion of the experiments; only a few of the more interesting
results will be incidentally mentioned as the questions arise to
which they refer: but to myself the experience thus acquired
was of the greatest practical value in the endeavour to esta-
blish the present system on a sound basis.

5. LENGTH OF OUTLINES. Among the general results of
these experiments we may here mention that, as is evident
a priori, the actual length of an outline has little relation to
its facility. One often sees estimates of the relative facility of
two systems based almost entirely on a comparison of the dis-
tances traversed by the pen, whereas the order in which a
series of strokes is made, and, above all, the way in which they
are joined, are a great deal more important than the length or
direction of the individual strokes.

In deciding questions of relative facility and in esti-

6 Conditions of Facility and Clearness.

mating speed, the method of repetition has, I believe, been
exclusively adopted by previous experimentalists. It has the
merit of simplicity, but the information it affords is not
complete and may even be misleading. For instance, in
describing a series of strokes, such as \, in succession, the
hand and arm are unconsciously placed in the most favourable
position for that particular direction, so that, in an experiment
thus conducted, it may happen to appear more facile than it
really is. The chronographic method has the advantage that
the actual conditions of the problem are more closely repro-
duced ; it is possible to determine the exact time corresponding
to each portion of an outline, and to allow for imperfections of
formation, and for loss of time from hesitation or other causes.

A common method of estimating the time required to write
any given passage, is to count the number of ' pen-strokes' or
' inflections'. Not to mention the difficulty of fixing definitely
the meaning of an 'inflection', this is a very rough and in-
accurate method, especially if lifts of the pen are not taken
into account*. For instance, on this plan, the combination
~\ ^/ might be counted as two pen-strokes, and the combina-
tion n as three, whereas in reality the latter is much the more

In comparing different specimens of the same system, or of
similar systems, Professor Everett's rulef would give reliable
results, although it makes no allowance for the great differences
that occur as regards good and awkward joinings. But in
comparing a script with a geometric system, it would be
absurdly unfair to the former, because no account is taken of
its most essential feature, namely that the majority of the
outlines and joinings are easy. No such simple rule in fact
can be made to meet this case.

The objection to all such rules is that they cannot take
account of clearness as apart from ease of joining; the easiest

* See the controversy on Shorthand Systems in The Bazaar, 1882-83.

t Shorthand. May, 1884. 'All round Criticism.' (This is the organ
of the Shorthand Society, and must not be confused with Ford's
Shorthand Magazine.)

Conditions of Facility and Clearness. 7

joinings are often the most indistinct. The real question is
not the making of a number of marks, but of distinctions; not
how briefly a word can be written, but at what speed it can be
safely distinguished. A system abounding in outlines that
cannot be clearly distinguished unless carefully drawn to scale,
and that cannot therefore be written fast without spoiling most
of its characteristic features, however neat and brief it may
appear in print, ia quite unsuitable for general use, and cannot
be compared with a system in which such faults are avoided.

6. STRAIGHT LINES VERSUS CURVES. It is commonly stated
that straight lines are more facile than curves. This is true of
a series of straight lines described independently ; but the curve
often has the advantage in the matter of joining to other cha-
racters, for its curvature may generally be varied, especially
near the ends, so as to make the joining easier. The most
facile directions for straight strokes are the up and down
strokes of longhand / / , the horizontal stroke , and the
upstroke /. The backward slope \ is generally awkward
unless the arm be held in an unnatural position. The hori-
zontal curves r\ w are the most facile curves; they do not
leave the line of writing, and they generally present good

In Cursive Shorthand the arrangement of the alphabet is
such that curves are more common than straight lines: the
majority of the strokes are on the slope of longhand writing,
and lines in the awkward direction are comparatively rare.

educated person must learn to write longhand, and generally
acquires considerable facility therein, he will evidently find a
system of shorthand easier to write, the more closely it imitates
the outlines and joinings with which he is already familiar in

The objection to script systems in general (such as that of
Gabelsberger) is that the distinction between different charac-
ters is often too vague and indefinite ; they cannot usually be

8 Conditions of Facility and Clearness.

defined by simple geometrical forms. The outlines resemble a
series of flourishes in which the component characters cannot
easily be traced; and the points of distinction are often so
subtle as to be difficult to recognize even in an engraving.

On the other hand a strictly geometrical system abounds in
polygonal outlines, like these /~\ \x~i "^ ^/\/ (taken
from Taylor, 1786), which are very far from cursive and are
difficult to write freely. Again there are several good outlines,
such as Q/ fl I (j , which are common and familiar in long-
hand, but of which a geometric system cannot make any use
proportionate to their facility.

I have endeavoured in Cursive Shorthand to combine the
advantages of both methods. The characters of the alphabet
are defined as far as possible by simple geometrical forms, but
are assigned to the various sounds of the language in such
a way that the majority of the outlines are cursive, and as
similar as possible to those of longhand. The other class of
outlines, however, are not altogether rejected, but are relegated
to the representation of comparatively rare combinations of
sounds ; such as x~\ Oh-eh, in Oasis.

8. BLUNT ANGLES. Whenever a blunt angle occurs in an
outline there is a tendency in rapid writing either to sharpen
or slur it. The great objection to geometric systems is that
they abound in blunt angles.

An outline such as \ pk (Pitman), when written

rapidly, tends to become | or \ (usually the latter), which

both mean something totally different. A blunt angle is most
difficult to mark distinctly when it occurs before or after a
curve in the same direction, as in the Pitman outlines,

r^ help'd, ^y flirt, ex; wearer, V^/""^ forum.

Outlines of this kind, in which the blunt angle cannot
be rounded off without causing confusion, become indistinct
when written fast.

The chronographic experiments showed that a blunt angle
was never correctly given, even by accident, without consider-

Conditions of Facility and Clearness. 9

able waste of time, and that to mark it with the minimum of
distinctness took longer than to make two sharp angles. A

sharp angle, such as > <u, is the most rapid and distinctive

joining of all, being slightly superior to a circle between two
curves in the same direction, such as VJ^. Two characters

joined continuously, like kk (Pitman) from k and it

take little longer to write than one; but such a joining is of no
value as a means of distinction apart from the difference of
length, if it is not clear from other evidence where one charac-
ter ends and the other begins, unless, for instance, there is a
point of inflection, as in ^ from n and u . In any case
two continuous joinings in succession must generally be
avoided, as they make the outline indistinct and wanting in
sharpness. It is one of the chief merits of Pitman's Phono-
graphy that he is enabled to avoid continuous joinings in many
cases, and thus to secure greater neatness and sharpness of
outline than the majority of geometric systems, by the use of
his numerous alternative characters ; but, as we shall see, from
want of system and regularity in their application, this advan-
tage is only gained at an enormous sacrifice.

In Longhand, when clearly written, sharp angles predomi-
nate, two continuous joinings hardly ever follow in succession.
Cursive Shorthand aims at utilising sharp angle joinings as
far as possible, and avoiding blunt angles, and so arranges
matters that wherever blunt angles occur, they may, except
in very rare cases, be slurred or sharpened without detriment
to legibility.

9. SLOPING CURVES. Among other generally recognized
sources of indistinct outlines are the sloping curves _/ x. \ (
which Taylor and others reject on this ground. It is only in
certain combinations that these characters are liable to produce
confusion ; to reject them altogether is to waste much valuable
stenographic material. Pitman avoids the difficulty by using
alternative characters for I, sh, and r, besides hooks for I, r,
and/; when the natural outline of a word is bad, he writes it
some other way. He still retains, however, several outlines

10 Conditions of Facility and Clearness.

which I should regard as not sufficiently distinct. For in-
stance, it is very difficult in writing to keep the double-sized /

V ftr, fdr, or fthr, distinct from both I f/*,andV fk,

which are outlines having the same length, and similar slope
and curvature, without confusing it with some other outline,
such as \^y pn. Again pn, even in print (see Pitman's
publications passim), may be often mistaken, when too much

flattened, for double-sized n x '; and similarly / N rm

for f Itr, Idr, Ithr ; or /" N mtr, mdr, mthr.

In Cursive Shorthand the bad combinations are almost
entirely avoided by the arrangement of the alphabet : the few
that remain are eliminated by using alternative characters.

10. ALTERNATIVE CHARACTERS are otherwise objectionable
as increasing the complexity of a system and the number
of possible ways of writing each word. Systems, however,
which do not use them, must submit to the worse evil of
indistinct and awkward outlines. Pitman utilises his numerous
alternative ways of writing a word, primarily for the purpose of
securing good outlines, directing the student generally to choose
for himself those outlines that he finds clearest and easiest.

In Cursive Shorthand the number of alternative characters
employed is as small as possible. They are used chiefly for the
purpose of securing clear outlines: rules are given in every case
showing how this is best effected.

11. LINEALITT. Longhand is perfectly 'lineal', that is to
say, every character returns to the line of writing.

In Cursive Shorthand lineality is secured by giving to all
the commonest sounds characters which return to the line of

writing, such as w d, s~\ b, \s> th, r I, A r, f m, l n, fj nd;
and by using characters which do not satisfy this condition,
either for the rarer sounds, as T > C f r #> .1 > or mainly as
prefixes and terminations.

* See T. A. Reed, Review ofDnploj/e's Shorthand, p. 5, end.

Conditions of Facility and Clearness. 1 1

12. USE OF SYMBOLS. By a ' symbol ' is meant a hook or
circle or loop attached to a character to signify the addition of
some other sound, instead of writing the latter by its proper
alphabetic sign. The ' symbols ' in a geometric system form
a kind of subsidiary alphabet. They are used for various
purposes: by Pitman chiefly as alternative characters to pro-

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Online LibraryHugh Longbourne CallendarA manual of cursive shorthand → online text (page 1 of 10)