Thursday, August 02, 2012

Gregg, Pitman, and Me: The Death of Shorthand

When I was in the 8th grade, our junior high had various after school activities you could participate in. Of course there were sports teams and cheerleading. Being a nerdy type I was a member of the Reading Club (oh, how I loved that club) and a special shorthand class.

Yes, I said shorthand.

My mom thought it would be a good idea for me to learn shorthand to help in any future career aspirations. Now, I don't remember much from that class. In fact I would say I remember nothing except that I did incorporate some dashes into my everyday writing that I still use today. I'm assuming this was learned  from that class.

Shorthand is like a secret code. Throughout history and possibly your genealogy, people have written in codes. I've seen postcards between lovers that include seemingly random numbers. The early Mormon settlers in Utah had their own alphabet. The Deseret Alphabet was an attempt at incorporating a phonetic alphabet but it never gained much of a following.

Shorthand evolved into  a secret language of women. This was the language of women who worked as secretaries and had to possess the skills of not only typing fast but also for "taking letters" which meant writing fast. Shorthand ensured that women were able to get down every word that was spoken and not have to ask for anything to be repeated.

Did someone in your family keep notes or diaries written in shorthand? Our family has inherited such encrypted notes. Notes written in shorthand  so no one else could read them.

When I think about the current controversies about cursive and how soon no one will be able to read or write in  cursive, how it will become a dinosaur, I think of shorthand. In the near future very few people will have the knowledge to unlock that secret handwriting we call shorthand. To read one history of shorthand check out the website Shorthand Shorthand Shorthand.

1 comment:

Jo said...

Oh yes, I remember the tyranny of the "dot ing" - but it's all I remember, and I do use it when taking notes! I have a family bible with a few lines in what looks like shorthand - maybe your link will help me figure it out :-) Jo