avoided by the arrangement of the alphabet ; and the distinc-
tion is utilized in other ways so as to make the alphabet
complete. At the same time the sound represented by the small
size character, is in each case so related to that represented by
the large size, that confusion of size, if it occurs, may be
attended with the least possible harm.
32. SOME 'METHODS OF ABBKEVIATION'. We have already
pointed out certain objections to the use of symbols. These
devices are commonly known as 'methods of abbreviation'.
To take a favourable example from one of Pitman's pamphlets :
the full alphabetic form of the word 'misrepresentation' in
Phonography, omitting all vou-els, is the first of the following
If we introduce hooks for r and shn, and put circles for s
and z, it reduces to the second form, which is somewhat
shorter and clearer, thanks particularly to the circles which
replace the awkward s, z characters. This example will
suffice to show how necessary these 'methods of abbreviation',
with all their attendant disadvantages, are to a purely geo-
metric system. The necessity arises from the inadequacy of
the alphabet ; there is no remedy for it, but an entirely new
Pitman has two special ' methods of abbreviation '.
(1) The addition of t or d is implied by halving the length
of a character : (2) tr or dr or thr (in most cases) by doubling it.
Halving a stroke is a very real source of brevity, especially as
the characters which Pitman assigns to t and d are perpen-
Conditions of Brevity. 35
dicular strokes, thin and thick 1 1 , which if used to any great
extent, would cause many of the outlines to descend too far
below the line, like attitude
Given Pitman's arrange-
clioice but to have some
> compare \ byadtiut (beatitude).
ment of characters *, there is no
other means of expression for
these letters: the halving principle however has many dis-
advantages. If it is necessary to distinguish four different
lengths of character, it is waste of material to use two of these
lengths almost exclusively for the representation of a single
pair of letters, and that in such a way as to leave it generally
uncertain which of the two is intended.
^, -^ may stand for mtr (matter) or mdr (madder) or
mthr (mother or may there).
V for ppn (pippin) or pnt r (painter) or pndr-t (ponder)
a or pnthr (panther).
/^ rpt for rapid or wrapt.
Moreover in rapid writing these distinctions cannot be
rigidly observed; half length strokes are written so as to be
mistaken for ticks or full length strokes, and full length strokes
for half length or double length. The confusion produced in
this way, by the accidental insertion or omission of countless t'a
and d'a, is one of the worst sources of illegibility in Pitman's
system. It is the natural consequence of such a reckless dis-
regard of the fundamental principle, that similar sounds should
be represented by similar signs.
And yet we have seen it stated that "the halving principle
is one of the happiest devices in the whole history of short-
hand"!. It is true that later in the course of the same
article the writer says of Phonography: "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
* Compare the arrangement of Everett's alphabet, in which hori-
zontal strokes are assigned to these common sounds.
t The Manual and the Dictionary are at variance on this point,
as on many others.
J Enc. Brit. Edition ix. Article ' Shorthand'.
36 Conditions of Brevity.
length strokes ". An admission of this kind, at the end of an
article devoted to an indiscriminate eulogy of Pitman's system,
is very significant.
33. Where several of these methods of abbreviation happen
to conspire, we obtain exceptionally short outlines. "Among
the many points of superiority" (mentioned above, p. 27) which
Pitman claims for his system over all others, we find first, "the
great concentration of consonant power in the simplest mathe-
matical forms". He instances outlines like (9 strfs (strives),
\9 sdrshns (abbreviation for considerations) ; ^ prnt (print),
^ frnt (front, friend).
It is a common device in comparing two systems to select
words of this sort, which happen to have exceptionally short
outlines in one but not in the other. Such outlines as the
above are very attractive to the inexperienced eye, and look
well in advertisements; but are often so exceedingly difficult
to write clearly that the gain in brevity is more apparent than
real. As Mr Pitman himself says with reference to the hooked
and looped forms of which beginners are so fond : "The briefest
outline to the eye is not always the most expeditious to the
hand"*; and again: "In selecting one out of two or more
possible forms for any word, the student must recollect that
great ease in writing, and, consequently, the saving of time
[and, he might have added, legibility], is not secured by using
hooked and grouped, and especially half-sized, letters, on all
possible occasions ; but he must learn to make a judicious
selection. He should choose a long, easy and legible form
rather than a short and cramped one "t.
That the elaboration of such highly concentrated abbrevia-
tions is an exceedingly fascinating and seductive mental re-
creation, we do not for a moment deny : but they are too com-
plicated to be extemporized; each combination must become
individually familiar before it can be profitably used. As
Professor Everett says: "There is a certain pleasure doubtless
* Manual, p. 46. 153. Ed. 1886.
t Id., p. 86, 129.
Conditions of Brevity. 37
in carrying out an elaborate system of rules for writing con-
cisely, when we are not hurried, but are able to make all the
contractions at our leisure. But in proportion as we lose
simplicity, and depart further from mere alphabetic writing,
the writer will be liable to find himself unready when instant
action is required". (See also 20.)
34. PHBASEOGBAPHY. Another common method of saving
time is to join words together in phrases continuously without
lifting the pen. In a strictly phonetic system (like Professor
Everett's), where the outlines represent sounds rather than
words, this does not make the writing illegible in so far as
it does not alter the sound. But in a system which is not
phonetic, it often happens that joining two words together
makes the outline of some different word. Phraseography is
then a great source of illegibility and hesitation. In such
systems word division is just as essential to legibility as in
ordinary print. Even in a purely phonetic system phraseo-
graphy should not be too freely employed. The knowledge
that each separate outline stands for a separate word, is of
great assistance in deciphering a sentence if badly written.
Abbreviated words in any system should not be joined together,
except in very common phrases, such as 'of the', which, even if
they clash with words, are so soon learnt that they may
be used with safety. The more common a ' phrase ' is, and the
closer the connection of the words it contains, the better.
Pitman lays great stress on phraseography ; in fact, he says:
"In no other system has this plan of joining words together
been so fully carried out". But since in Phonography all the
words are abbreviated by the omission of their vowels and
otherwise, words cannot be freely joined together without
clashing. Only known phrases can be used safely. An un-
familiar phrase may be quite illegible. The student has to
learn admissible phrases from a phrase-book, just as he has to
learn correct outlines from a dictionary.
35. ABBREVIATION BY OMISSION. The 'method of abbre-
viation' par excellence which is common to all systems of
38 Conditions of Brevity.
shorthand, is that of omission ; the first step is generally to
omit all the vowels; the next only to write the first two or
three consonants of each word. The following is an exact
transcription of one of Taylor's specimens.
-t s b b b rtrs f mr t n rdr t- kkn -mn ndstr prf s s- kntrfd
-t t r d- fd s nt t- b prkrd wt m pns n Ibr.
This is sufficiently hard to make out as it stands ; in actual
writing several of the letters would be uncertain which would
add considerably to the difficulty.
A reporter who has to transcribe his notes while the
subject is still fresh in his memory, can put up with a great
deal of illegibility and abbreviation by omission : but for
ordinary purposes of correspondence, and for cases where the
original notes (untranscribed) are required to be read easily
at any distance of time, perfect legibility is the most essential
point, and the words should not be too much abbreviated.
The best methods of abbreviation are those which are
familiar in longhand. Indicating terminations of long words,
especially of words that are often repeated, omitting unim-
portant connecting words, and similar methods, are very
largely used in reporting, and are much preferable, for general
use, to the wholesale omission of vowels, or the use of hundreds
of arbitrary abbreviations, such as still disfigure systems of
shorthand. It is true that nothing can be easier to read or to
write than an arbitrary word-sign, when once it has become
perfectly familiar. But such word-signs, if they happen not to
be familiar, are absolutely illegible, and the difficulty of
learning them, except in special cases, is so serious that they
can only be of general use to professional writers.
36. EEPOBTING. For the purposes of Verbatim Eeporting,
abbreviation by omission must be freely employed in any
system, but facility and discretion in the use of it are only
to be acquired by diligent practice.
If the coveted art of Verbatim Eeporting could be so easily
acquired as many unscrupulous advertisers would have us
believe, it would not be so highly valued. Its very value
Conditions of Brevity. 39
proves its difficulty. The following statement of Mr Edward
Pocknell, a very well known reporter, will be read with interest
by those who wish to know the real experiences of a man of
undoubted ability in the modern school of reporting.
"The statements often published ever since the art flou-
rished about learning to write 100 words per minute, in any
system, in a few weeks, or in two or three months, with a
practice of an hour a day, are simply ludicrous to those who
have had any experience. The principles of a good system
may be acquired as fast as the student pleases to read them;
but reducing them to PRACTICE is an essentially different thing.
The author [Mr Edward Pocknell], after two years' daily prac-
tice of Lewis's system, in his early professional career, could
not write 100 words per minute; and on abandoning that
system for Phonography, which he also practised daily, some-
times at long spells, as a Reporter of Speeches for the Press,
three years passed before he could write 140 words per minute.
This statement is made in the assurance that the experience
of other practising writers has been the same."
Of a certain system we have seen it stated that the report-
ing style may be acquired in twelve hours; but beginners in
Cursive should not be discouraged if they find that, though a
month's practice will enable them to write it with greater
facility than longhand, a much longer apprenticeship is required
for verbatim work.
37. It is not unlikely however that, wherever verbatim
accuracy is required, human agency will in a few years be
superseded by mechanical.
The well-known 'Phonograph' does verbatim reporting
automatically, and therefore not only far more cheaply but
also more accurately than the most skilled artist. The ' Phono-
graphic' records have to be transcribed and put into shape for
the press, like any ordinary verbatim reports, but it is much
easier to transcribe by dictation from a ' Phonograph ', which
delivers five to ten words at a time, than from the best
40 Conditions of Brevity.
But for the great majority of private purposes such as
correspondence, copying, and taking notes of lectures where
transcribing is out of the question, and legibility is more
essential than speed, the phonograph will never supersede
shorthand. In fact there is every indication that the popu-
larity of the art in the future will increase. It seems to me
therefore that it is a mistake, in constructing a system, to
attach so much importance to brevity as to sacrifice to it any
considerations of legibility and simplicity.
38. To recapitulate briefly the argument of the Introduc-
tion, I claim that Cursive Shorthand is a good system, and
suitable for general use, for the following reasons :
(1) Because it is easy to write :
It uses only two sizes of character. It does not employ the
distinction of thick and thin strokes, or of positional writing,
so that it can be written equally well with pen, pencil, or
stylograph, and on ruled or unruled paper.
It is very cursive and lineal, and similar to longhand, and
avoids indistinct joinings and awkward geometrical outlines.
The vowels are written in their natural order, by joined
characters like the consonants. Detached dots are rarely
used, and only for subsidiary purposes, and need not be
(2) Because it is simple to learn :
It is strictly 'alphabetic', and does not use 'symbols' or
It is strictly phonetic, and avoids the inconsistencies of the
The rules are simple, definite, and free from exceptions.
(3) Because it is easy to read :
Its legibility is due partly to its simplicity, to the facility
and clearness of its outlines, and to the scientific arrangement
of the alphabet ; partly to its completeness all words differing
Claims. 4 1
in sound are naturally distinguished in outline, and the rules
are so definite that the same sound cannot be correctly written
in more than one way. Besides this, there is a complete
system of vowel indication, and the outline is made to show,
in nearly every case, how the word is accented.
(4) Because it is as brief as is compatible with the above
The given material is not wasted, but is used up as com-
pletely as possible, and disposed in the most suitable manner.
It can be scribbled as recklessly as longhand, and is about
three times as brief when fully written (see also p. 102).
Cursive Shorthand, in addition to the above qualifications,
possesses great advantages for educational purposes. Besides
being strictly phonetic, it is also very regular, systematic, and
complete; thus it not only improves the pronunciation, but
affords a valuable mental training.
I do not think that there is any system at present before
the public which combines all these qualities in so high a
degree and in such suitable proportions.
OEIGIN OF CUBSIVE SHORTHAND.
39. The present system was founded on my reminiscences
of an American pamphlet, the title and description of which
(taken from Dr Westby Gibson's admirable Bibliography of
Shorthand) are as follows: A Brief History of the Art of
Stenography, with a proposed new system of Phonetic Short-
hand, by William P. Upham. Essex Institute, Salem, Mass. ,
U.S.A. 1877. [Large 8vo. Two plates, containing 48 alpha-
bets, from John Willis, 1602, to Thomas Towndrow, 1837.
viii. and 120 pp., including 10 plates.]
Lest I should appear in what follows unduly to depreciate
the value of Upham's work, I may say at the outset, that
I owe much more to him than to any other author, and that
I found his system so far superior to Pitman's for general
purposes that, although I had spent some two years in learning
the latter, I at once abandoned it in favour of Upham's system.
42 Origin of Cursive ShortJiand.
The latter, like Cursive Shorthand, was designed to supply
the need of a system for general use. It discarded the dis-
tinction between thin and thick strokes, and the use of detached
vowel marks. Its alphabet was based on a very complete
phonetic analysis, and provided signs for all the necessary
sounds. The distinction of two sizes of character only, was
employed throughout. In all these fundamental points we
have made no change. But in one sense Upham's system was
incomplete. Some of the characters of his alphabet were
inadequate, and gave rise to awkward combinations entailing
special devices. Among the worst were the following :
< /(, AW?, v y, * I, ^ r, *<L ng,
V sh, Q*i, -v- ch, v^ j ;
\^ a, i (down) i, i (up) M, I (down) ee, \ (up) do, | i.
The remaining characters of his alphabet, with a few ex-
ceptions, were much the same as in Cursive Shorthand, but
The loop characters (? A were devoted to /, v, Ih, and the
large and small circles to z and s. The device of expression
'by mode' was not used. The short vowels were distinguished
'by character', a method very fruitful in bad outlines, since
most of the short vowel characters would not join clearly in
several combinations. The method of vowel indication con-
sisted in the use of a large number of special compound conso-
nants; many of these were objectionable as not containing
their respective primaries ; thus,
i_ tr from v t and ^ r, 3 pi from r> p and ^ 7,
U nt from t n and u t, n mp from / m and <^.p,
J kr from c k and ^ r, r ngg from -*=^. ng and ( g,
-^- kw from c k and A w, etc.
There were also many arbitrary non-alphabetic signs for
common words, prefixes, terminations, and phrases; the dis-
Origin of Cursive Shorthand. 43
tinctiou of three positions was arbitrarily applied to several of
40. In laying the foundations of Cursive Shorthand the
'alphabetic' principle ( 20) was adopted as opposed to the
1 ideographic '. Arbitrary compounds and arbitrary word- signs
were therefore rejected wholesale. A great saving of steno-
graphic material was effected by giving the downward tick
/ to s, z, and using the device of adding the small circle to the
mutes, r> p, -~> t, etc., to form the corresponding sibilants
n /, u> th, etc. The loop characters A', fr were then assigned
to I, r. Hooks were used at first for w and y.
The alphabet of Cursive Shorthand thus took shape on the
first of January, 1887. The hooks for w and y were soon found
to be particularly objectionable, especially when medial, and the
device of expression ' by mode ' was, after various trials, applied
to these characters. This device was found to be so satisfactory
that its use was extended to purposes of vowel indication.
Meanwhile many changes were made in the vowel alphabet,
especially in the expression of the short vowels. The characters
for ng, the reverse loops /i for I, r, the alternatives 3 )
for t, d, were added to the consonant alphabet. The system of
vowel indication was completed and simplified in such a way
aa to render the meaning of every outline more precise and
definite, and the writing consequently far more legible.
Awkward and indistinct outlines were carefully hunted oqj,
and eliminated by the application of suitable rules to the
usage of the alternative characters : these rules were made
strict, instead of permissive, so that the same sound could
not be correctly written in several different ways.
The above changes are more extensive and fundamental
than might appear at first sight: of the characters of the
alphabet less than a quarter remain unchanged in meaning
and usage; and although Cursive Shorthand still bears a
strong superficial resemblance to its precursor, the change in
spirit and significance is so great as to entitle it to rank as
a new system.
44 Phonetic Spelling.
41. Cursive Shorthand is very strictly phonetic: words are
written as they are spoken and not as they are spelt. The
common spelling is so complicated and so full of inconsistencies
that it is impossible to construct a simple and consistent system
of shorthand except on a phonetic basis.
In order to separate as far as possible the difficulties which
are purely phonetic from those of the shorthand itself, we
employ a simple Phonetic Notation (distinguished throughout
by the use of thick, or Clarendon, type) which enables us to
make our statements about sounds sufficiently brief and
definite, and to represent very accurately the sounds which
the shorthand characters are intended to express.
It is more fully explained and illustrated in a small
pamphlet* on Phonetic Spelling, which the student of Cursive
Shorthand will find very useful.
42. The phonetic alphabet, if we include the letter x for
ks, contains 30 letters, namely the 26 of the old alphabet and 4
inverted letters A, o, s[, q. The letters 3[, q are used for the
two varieties of th heard in thin j[in, and then qen. The letters
A, o, are used for the vowel sounds in the words butter, toAto ;
The letters c, j, q, represent the sounds sh, zh, ng; as in the
words vicious, vicos; vision, vljon; singer, siqo. The soft
sound of ch, as in whic/t, is the compound tc (tsh). The soft
sound of g, as in gentle, is the compound dj (dzh). The letter
j, zhay, has the sound of the French j, as inj'ai. The sound
of qu, as in queen, is kw. Hard ch, as in c/taracter, is k.
The remaining 23 letters have their .usual meaning.
The vowels a, e, i, o, u, when not followed by o, w, or y,
represent the sounds of the accented short vowels, as in the
words pat, pet, pit, pot, put.
* Phonetic Spelling, by H. L. Callendar. Same publishers, price 6d.
Phonetic Spelling. 45
The letters o, w, y, are used for the unaccented short
sounds of the vowels eo er, uw oo, iy ee, respectively.
The long vowels and diphthongs are represented by ' di-
graphs ' (double letters). Each digraph is formed by affixing
o, w, or y, to one of the six letters a, e, i, o, A, u.
The following are required in English :
ao as in there, fared, ey as in they, may. ow as in how, now.
eo ,, her, word. iy ,, we, see. AW low, note.
oo laud, lord. oy ,, boy, oil. uw ,, you, who.
AO ,, ah, tars. Ay ,, my, eye.
43. The Phonetic Alphabet should be learnt by saying the
names of the letters in the following order :
Mutes; p pee, \) bee; t tee, d dee; ls.kay,ggay:
Hisses; f ef, v vee; j[ eth, n thee; s ess, z zee; c shay,
Trills; 1 el, rre: [jzhay:
Nasals ; m em, n en, q ing :
Sighs ; h he, w oo, y ee :
Vowels; o 8r; & at, e et, iit; o ot, A. Hit, M dot.
44. The Capital, Script and Italic forms of the new letters
are as follows :
LETTEES. CAPITALS. ITALICS. SCBIPT FOBMS.
3i (thin) H J -Q- $
H (then) A a a 8 (79-
A (but) A A A v "D xi
o (butter) fi o o 9 ol &
THE COMMON OETHOGEAPHY.
45. The ordinary spelling of a word is frequently mis-
leading as to its sound: we therefore append a few practical
hints which will assist the beginner to deduce the correct
phonetic spelling from the common spelling in many cases.
46 The. Common Orthography.
(1) Omit mute, or silent, letters.
For example, the italicized letters are not pronounced, and
are therefore omitted, in the following words :
Mute e. believed, blessed (blest), live, sieve, late, league.
Mute gli. though, right, caught, etc.
Miscellaneous, damn, lamb, phthisic, ps&lm, empty, fcnow,
knight, phlegm, yac/it, lick, written, honour.
(2) A letter is often doubled in the common spelling to in-
dicate a short vowel, and a mute e is often added to indicate
a long vowel. These devices are not required in phonetic
spelling or in shorthand, where long and short vowels are
distinguished by other means. For instance, one letter only
would be written in each of the following cases :
betier, sinwer, poppy, merry (compare very, bury) seH, kiss,
add, buzz, irreligious, immeasurable, innate, connect, BaccTms.
(3) In common spelling some consonants change their
sound according to their situation. For instance :
g is hard in give, get, but stands for dj and J in gentle, judge.
c stands for k as in cat, for s as in city.
In the phonetic alphabet the letter c is used only for the
sound sh as in ocean, vicious, chaise, suspicion, sufficient.
ch stands for k as in character, and for to as in church.
t stands for c (sh) as in nation, for tc as in nature.
s stands for z as in busy ; for c (sh), as in sugar, sure; for
J (zh) as in pleasure, vision.
ph stands for f as in phonetic, for v as in nephew.
n stands for q (ng) as in ink, finger (compare singer).
ng for q in hanger, for qg in anger, for ndj in danger.
th has three distinct sounds ; the sharp sound J[, in thin,
thigh, wreath; the dull sound q, in then, thy, wreathe, the
compound sound th, in pot-hooJc, short-hand.