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Alternative characters such as bear no resemblance to
each other, and especially 'symbols' (as defined in 12),
are objectionable because they violate this principle, in that
the same sound is represented by different signs.

* It is a common mistake to suppose that Pitman's system satisfies
this condition ; very dissimilar words often have the same outline in his
'phonography' (see p. 27, near end).



Conditions of Legibility. 23

22. ONE WORD, ONE OUTLINE. If similar sounds should
be represented by similar signs, a fortiori the same word,
apart from variations of pronunciation, should always be
represented by the same sign*. Of equal importance is the
complementary principle that different words should be re-
presented by different signs.

These are two most essential conditions of legibility, apart
from all question of good or bad writing ; but it is un-
doubtedly very difficult to satisfy both at once. This was
in fact far the most serious difficulty encountered in construct-
ing the present system.

The variety of material supplied must be sufficient for
the distinction of all such words as differ in sound, and
at the same time the rules must be made so strict and
definite that the same word cannot be correctly written in
several different ways. The pages of illustrative matter in the
exposition of the present system are mainly devoted to explain-
ing how words should be correctly written, so fully and precisely
that all learners may naturally write them alike from the
outset. It is not enough to say to the student, 'Here are
your characters: select those joinings which you find the
best and clearest.' It is necessary to point out definitely in
each case which characters are to be used.

23. Most authors are agreed with regard to the importance
of distinguishing different words, and, in order to satisfy this
condition, they generally provide such a superabundance of
material thick and thin strokes, symbols, detached vowels, and
many different lengths and directions of character that they
find it impossible to satisfy the other condition. Sometimes
they admit the failure as a misfortune, sometimes they glory
in the ' endless variety of possible outlines ' without appearing
to notice its drawbacks ; sometimes they deny that it has any
disadvantages, and refuse to recognize the importance of
laying down strict rules, and of always writing the same word
in the same way.

* Except, of course, as regards simple omission ; part of a word may
be omitted for convenience in phrasing or abbreviation: this is not the
same thing as admitting several different outlines for a fully written word.



24 Conditions of Legibility.

On this point we entirely agree with Mr Pitman, who
says*: "It is essential to easy and fluent writing that every
word should always be written in the same way ".

Butt : " Seeing that in the Phonographic Alphabet [Pitman's]
s and r have duplicate forms, that sh and I may be written
either upward or downward, that w and y have both vowel and
consonant forms, that h may be written by its consonant form
(up or down), or by a joined tick, or a dot; also that many
groups of consonants may be expressed either by their alphabetic
forms or by abbreviations [symbols], it is evident that a large
number of words may be written in more than one way."
That is to say, in a very large number of cases the same word
may (apart from all variations of pronunciation) be correctly
represented (as far as the rules are concerned) by several
(sometimes two or three hundred) different signs. Not only
are these signs different, but they bear as a rule not
the vaguest resemblance to each other. The hooks, circles,
loops, bear no resemblance whatever to the alphabetic cha-
racters of the letters I, r, f, v, n, s, z, st, str, which they
represent : and to halve the length of a stroke is not in the
least like adding d or t to it.

24. The primary object of this variety is the avoidance
of the straggling outlines that arise from the inadequacy of
the alphabet (see p. 34). Unfortunately it " opens the door to
a diversity of stenographic representation for some words, and
casts on the writer the necessity of deciding which form is
most convenient " J. The resulting confusion has been in some
measure alleviated by the publication of a Phonographic Dic-
tionary, which is intended to relieve the student of the labour
of choosing for himself which of several possible outlines is
most convenient and correct.

It is one of the chief advantages of a phonetic system that
words can be written by ear without reference to the spelling ;
tin's advantage is lost when it becomes necessary to learn
correct outlines from a dictionary.

* Manual, p. 43, 139 (note). Ed. 1886.
t Manual, p. 46, 153. Ed. 1886.
j Dictionary, Preface. Ed. 1884.



Coitditioiis of Leyibility. 25



In this respect there is a close analogy between Pitman's
system of shorthand and the common orthography. Just as
in learning to spell, the correct spelling of individual words
must be learnt, so in Pitman's system the student must learn
the correct outlines.

In Phonography the choice of a correct outline of a word
is not made entirely at haphazard, similarly in common
spelling there are many elastic and general relations between
the sound and the orthography ; but the exceptions are so
numerous, that you cannot from the analogy of any number
of cases deduce with certainty the correct result in any other
case however similar.

The difficulty of learning Phonography, like that of learn-
ing to spell, is consequently very great. In fact, as Mr Pitman
himself writes, " Fonography is undoutedly not a thing to be
lerned without a littel truble". Most of our readers have
probably long since forgotten the weary toil of learning to
spell, and will hardly be able to realize the force of our com-
parison : but Pitmanites, at any rate, who are ardent spelling
reformers, will appreciate its full significance.

The number of alternative characters even in Pitman's
alphabet is small compared with the number of words in the
language. If the usage of the alternative characters were
denned by strict rules, a dictionary would not be required.
The absence of strict rules, although it makes a system appear
simpler at first sight, is in reality attended with serious dif-
ficulties, because it compels the writer, if he does not wish to
acquire a style peculiar to himself and illegible to others, to
learn the correct outlines of individual words.

25. But we have been assuming hitherto that the Dic-
tionary in question is a recognised and absolute standard* of
correct Phonography. If it were so, Pitman's system, like the
common orthography, "in spite of its complexity and its many
glaring defects "f, would still be a practical system. In reality

* As a matter of fact it is very imperfect. Many of the most puzzling
words are omitted, especially those whose outlines are awkward or un-
certain.

t Standard, Sept, 26, 1887.



26 Conditions of Legibility.



the comparison is altogether unfair to the common orthography,
for not only is the possible variety of phonographic outline
much greater than the possible variety of spelling on any
reasonable analogies, but whereas the common orthography is
exceedingly strict and definite, the usage of distinction by
outline, even among skilful phonographers and in printed
specimens, is far from regular and uniform.

In fact so great is the possible variety of outline in Plw-
nography and so elastic are the rules that Mr Pitman has
not after fifty years succeeded in establishing uniformity
even in the text-books published by himself. To take one
instance, out of many that might be given ; La the Reporter,
p. 28*, the outline for cart (or according to) is given as c- ,
which properly stands for a word of the form kr-t as crate ;
on p. 43, the outline given for cart (also carat, accurate, and

curate) is ' , which properly stands for a word of the form

k-r-t as carrot; but in the Piionographic Dictionary the form

given is x,, which could hardly be distinguished in rapid

writing from \ care (the latter word may also be written
c , like acre, crow, occur).

Again, it is very desirable that in a series of related words
the same syllable should always be written in the same way.
Here Mr Pitman apparently gives up the attempt to maintain
consistency: every page of the Dictionary is crowded with
illustrations of the disregard of this obvious principle.

Take for instance the word critic, which is written
krtk ; in order to form critical, it ought only to be necessary
to add the syllable -al: instead of that, Mr Pitman writes the
first syllable in an altogether different way, and puts a hook
before the final k, adding nothing at all at the end ; the result
krtkl, does not in the least suggest the form of the
original word critic.

* See also Manual, p. 46. Ed. 1886. It is necessary to note the par-
ticular edition because changes are always being made. I expended in
1887 upwards of 10s. on a new set of Pitman's instruction books. I find
that several changes have already been made since then.



Condition of Legibility. 27

Or take again the word cart, and compare the derivatives ;
*J krtj, cartage; ~~\\ krtr, carter; ^ krtt, carted.

These are by no means exceptional cases. There would be no
difficulty in giving thousands of similar examples.

We do not say that starting with Mr Pitman's methods and
materials it would have been possible to achieve a better result :
the success attained is probably as great as the fundamental
imperfections of his system will admit. He at any rate recog-
nizes the desirability of always writing the same word in the
same way, though his manner of attaining that end is defective.
The Dictionary method, even if consistently followed, would
involve too much strain on the memory to be of general use.

2G. NECESSITY OF-INSERTING VOWELS. In the Phonographic
Reporter* we find this " variety of forms with which the same
cluster of consonants may be written", quoted, " among the
many points of superiority which Phonography possesses over
all other systems ". It is used "in providing different outlines
for such words" as contain the same consonants, " so tha't
they may be distinguished at once without the insertion of
then: vowels ".

Now Pitman's capricious variety of outline, in addition to
its other disadvantages, is quite inappropriate to this purpose.
For in the case of long words, where the variety is so great as
to be absolutely bewildering, the distinction is comparatively
seldom required ; and in the case of short words containing
one or two consonants, where the distinction is most needed,
it most hopelessly fails. To take as an instance some words
containing three consonants : the combination krt can be
written in six different ways, three of which are given for the
word cart (see 25). To take one of them : the outline c-
(according to the Phonographic Dictionary) represents the
dissimilar words crate, accord, curt, occurred, acred, create etc.,
and if thickened, great, grade, agreed, augured, etc., and if
the dot for con be omitted, as it often is, concrete, concurred,
* p. 17, edition 1886.



28 Conditions of Legibility.

concord; except in 'Dictionary' writing it might stand for
several other words.

Of the remaining five ways of writing krt, one is too
awkward to be of any use ; the other four are used for other
words, such as carat, accurate, curate, cart, curt, carroty, etc.
This however is a particularly favourable case : the variety of
five available outlines is unusual in so short a combination ;
yet even here it is seen to be quite inadequate : it is much
more so in the case of shorter words. The cases where it just
happens to fit the requirements of the language are exceedingly
few in comparison, and are very poor " compensation" * for the
trouble and perplexity of choosing between the several different
outlines possible for every long word.

It must appear altogether absurd that it should be possible
to write the consonant outline of the word Switzerland in
nearly four hundred different ways ; the more so, when we



reflect that, after all, the correct outline, ck sts-tlnt, may

still be misread for as-it-is-your-land, or cities -of -Ireland, or
as -much-as-Ir eland, or such-as-were-lent, or something else,
according to context, and clearness of writing, and virulence
of phraseographic mania.

The natural way to distinguish words containing the same
consonants, is to write, or at least to indicate, the vowels.

In Cursive Shorthand we have provided for the facile in-
sertion of vowels by giving them joined characters which are
written in their proper order together with the consonants.
All words differing in sound are thus naturally distinguished
in writing. How a word should be written, or whether to
insert a vowel or not, is not left to the option of the student ;
the correct outline in every case is determined by general rules,
so that no confusion of the kind we have described can arise.

27. VOWEL INDICATION. Vowel insertion alone is not alto-
gether satisfactory unless supplemented by vowel indication ;
otherwise, if any vowels are omitted, there is nothing to show

* Phonographic Dictionary, Preface.



Conditions of Legibility. 29

where they ought to come, and even if all the vowels are
inserted there is nothing to show that they are all there.

It is in reading long words that a good system of vowel in-
dication, showing at a glance how the consonants are grouped,
is of the greatest utility. Indicated vowels may be very freely
omitted in long words without risk of actual clashing, because
they seldom have precisely the same consonant skeletons.
When the vowel sound itself is obscure*, and of no distinctive
value apart from its place among the consonants, it is even
preferable to omit it, provided that its place can be indicated.
Important vowels however should still be inserted as an aid to
legibility. For instance, although a knowledge of the language
will enable anyone to discover that d-m-n-sh-n^ can only
stand for domination, and not for admonition, damnation, or
dimension; nevertheless the insertion of the principal vowels
(thus: dom-nash-n) is a very great help to the instantaneous
recognition of the word.

We have seen that Pitman's method of inserting vowels is
bad ; in addition to this his appliances for vowel indication are
very rudimentary, and are moreover so capriciously employed
as to rob them of nearly all their value. His methods of
arbitrary distinction by outline must not be confounded with
systematic vowel indication.

To return to our previous example ; compare the words,

e n kr-t? - c ~ 1 ^7. t r \ creature \i k-rtr-

I creator \ " (courtier \ carter.

No one can pretend that this is systematic vowel indica-
tion. Courtier is confused with creature, a word of totally
different structure. The other words, indeed, are 'provided
with different outlines', but this is an instance particularly
favourable to Mr Pitman, because the combination krtr can be
written in fifteen different ways; it contains two r's, each of
which can be expressed in three ways, which are theoretically

* The fact that more than half the vowels in English are of this kind
is probably the origin of the common superstition that all vowels can be
readily dispensed with. See p. 63.

t It might at first sight be mistaken for diminution, which however
contains a y thus d-m-ny-sh-n.

c. 3



30 Conditions of Legibility.

used for the purpose of vowel indication ; (1) the hook (r), r
preceded by a consonant; (2) the character ~\ (-r), r preceded
by a vowel; (3) the character / (r-), r followed by a vowel.
Unfortunately (except that the downward r, being an awkward
character, is rarely used when a vowel follows) these rules are
so little observed in practice that no reliance can be placed on
them as a means of vowel indication. (See also p. 103.)

Mr E. Pocknell has undoubtedly rendered great service to
shorthand by the stress he has laid on the importance of vowel
indication : but I think he goes too far in neglecting vowel in-
sertion. It is true that a great many words are readily recog-
nized by their consonant skeletons, especially if they are not
spelt phonetically. No one would find much difficulty in re-
cognizing the words,

Gl-dst-n-, E-nd-lph, C-lq-h - n, Br-ght, sh-rth-nd,
phl-gm, t-bl-, d-bt, -n - gh, str-ngth.

In the power of distinguishing monosyllables and short
words without the aid of detached vowel marks, by indicating
the number and position of the vowels, his system is certainly
a great improvement on Pitman's.

But in many cases even the indication of the precise position
and number of all the vowels, is not sufficiently suggestive, or
fails to show the exact word. It may take some time to guess
words like - t-, -g - , b - -, -d - , -b - , q - -. In the case of
short words there is usually a choice of alternatives, unless the
exact vowels are written.

To reporters, who from constant practice become familiar
with the outline of every individual word, and who can transcribe
their notes while the memory of the subject is still fresh, a
certain amount of guess-work is not a very serious drawback.
But for general use, especially for correspondence and notes
of lectures on technical subjects, we require much greater
certainty* of reading, and continual guess-work is not to be
tolerated. The exact expression of vowel sounds is at once
the most direct, simple, and complete method of distinguishing
words, and. given joined vowel characters, this can be effected
without serious expenditure of time.

* Professor Everett, Shorthand, May, 1884



Conditions of Legibility. 31

Cursive Shorthand has not only provided very fully and
definitely for the facile insertion of vowels, where they are
needed ; but has supplemented vowel insertion with a complete
system of vowel indication, which shows in every case where
vowels do not occur. We are thus enabled to omit obscure
vowels not only without loss, but with actual gain of legibility.
By systematically inserting accented vowels and indicating
unaccented vowels, the outline is made to show in almost
all cases exactly how the word is accented or divided into
syllables*. The facility thus secured in reading long and un-
familiar words correctly at sight, is found to be of the greatest
practical value.

28. POSITIONAL WHITING. The device of writing a word in
'Position' above, on, or through the line, is commonly em-
ployed in shorthand for indicating the nature of a vowel with-
out writing it.

In Pitman's system, writing a word 'in position' implies
that its accented vowel is one of five or six: this informa-
tion is rather too indefinite to be of much usef. Besides it
assumes that the rarer vowels are always inserted. In reality
the w and y series of vowels, long and short, and the dis-
syllabic diphthongs, ought to be included. This would raise
the total number of vowels to nearly fiftyj, to be divided
among three positions.

The use of position for this purpose, besides being indefinite,
is particularly objectionable if the accented vowel does not
happen to be initial, because it is illogical to begin a word out
of position in order to convey information about the nature of
a vowel which may come somewhere near the end. Position,
if used, ought logically to be restricted to the expression of
initial sounds. It is thus used in Professor Everett's system ;

* Many 'syllabic' systems claim the advantage of showing, by the
way a word is written, how it is divided or accented.

t Of so little use that, except for logograms, it is generally neglected.

J Yet with all this multitude of signs, no distinction is made between
the sounds of the vowels italicized in the words, curt and cwrry, hair-oil
and hayrick, boa and \x>wie. Cursive Shorthand is able to distinguish
vowel sounds with much greater accuracy and completeness, although
it employs only about one-third of this number of vowel characters.

32



32 Conditions of Legibility.

he writes a word above the line to indicate the omission of an
initial circle ; below the line to indicate the omission of initial
a. This is not only perfectly logical, but also very simple
and useful.

The device itself however is open to some objections, which
make it in my opinion unsuited for general use. It appears
difficult and unnatural to the average student, who generally
fails to master it thoroughly. It is not at all a safe means of
distinction, unless ruled paper is used. Even then the positions
must be strongly marked by putting the words well above or
below the line. This seriously violates the conditions of com-
pactness and lineality, and may often make it necessary to
shift the hand up or down in the middle of a line, or to write
half an outline in a cramped position. In any case much
space is wasted, and the writing acquires a straggling appear-
ance, so that the lines are apt to become confused, unless
widely separated. It conflicts with phraseography ; a word
cannot be distinguished by position when joined in the middle
of a phrase. For these and other reasons we have made no
use of positional writing in Cursive Shorthand; we are thus
enabled to dispense with ruled paper, and to secure the
maximum of compactness, lineality, and phraseographic power.

On the other hand the device of expression by 'mode',
that is of writing characters in position with respect to each
other, requires no ruled paper and is perfectly reliable and
distinct. But it should be used in moderation, or it is apt to
give rise to straggling and scratchy outlines.

CONDITIONS OF BBEVITY.

29. The material at our disposal being thus limited by the
essential conditions of facility, simplicity, and legibility ; how
is it to be utilized to the best advantage in securing brevity?

By brevity we do not mean simply shortness of outline, but
rather speed, or shortness of time. The rate at which an
outline can be clearly written, so as to be unmistakeable for
anything else, depends more on its facility than on its length.



Conditions of Brevity. 33

30. ARBANGEMENT OP ALPHABET. Subject to the condition
that ' similar sounds should be represented by similar signs ', it
is evident that, in arranging the alphabet, brevity will he best
secured by giving the quickest and easiest signs to the com-
monest sounds, and the clearest and most facile joinings to the
commonest combinations.

The sign chosen for any sound should be suitable to its
usage, and to the mode of its occurrence in the language.
Characters which are facile at the beginning or end of an out-
line, but join badly elsewhere, should be given to sounds which
occur generally as prefixes or as terminations respectively.

It is one great advantage of a ' phonographic ' as opposed to
an ' orthographic' system, that any given sound, from its very
nature, occurs only in a limited number of combinations.
Two vowel sounds, for instance, rarely occur together, and
the number of common combinations of consonants without
intervening vowels, is very limited. It is therefore possible to
choose for each sound a character suited to its mode of
occurrence. In an ' orthographic ' system, on the other hand,
in so far as it is unphonetic, the combinations are not governed
by any natural law : each letter is liable to occur in every
variety of way, and it is more difficult to arrange the alphabet
so as to avoid awkward outlines.

31. WASTE OF MATERIAL. All the available stenographic
material should be used up as completely as possible. It
should not be possible to change any distinctive feature of an
outline without making it mean something different. The
ability to write the same sound in many different ways neces-
sarily implies proportionate waste of stenographic material,
and a want of definiteness in the meaning of the outlines and
in the rules by which they are formed.

If we grant that it is possible in writing to distinguish two
sizes of character, a large size and a small size, strokes and
ticks, as in longhand, we ought so to arrange our alphabet as to
take the greatest possible advantage of the distinction, to use
it up completely. In Taylor's alphabet, and in most of the



34 Conditions of Brevity.

systems founded upon Taylor, a double or a triple length
character stands for a character repeated two or three times,

as in s (ass), ss (assess), sss (assizes); these

cases occur so rarely that the distinction of two sizes, though
it has none the less to be preserved, is practically wasted.

In Cursive Shorthand this wasteful use of the two sizes is


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