Isn't it fascinating?
In today's time and technology, making note of something someone says is child's play. There are just so many ways one can take down a few points now, be it by using a recorder or one of the gazillion apps that are available to download.
But technology, in itself, is a rather new development. So, have you ever wondered how people from the bygone eras took down notes? Well, with shorthand.
Considering the fact that an average person speaks about 125-150 words per minute, it is nearly impossible to write down each and every single word one says. Invented during the Victorian period, shorthand became invaluable to take down notes, according to The EpochTimes.
The shorthand uses two different systems: one developed by Thomas Pitman, which was widely used in Britain, and another developed by John Robert Gregg, which was used commonly in the United States.
Both were designed to help take down notes at the speed at which they were spoken, without having to skip out on anything. Pitman's version included 25 single consonants, 24 double consonants, and 16 vowel sounds.
The long lop strokes used to write words in full were known as the longhand, while shorthand was designed to reduce letters to their simplest forms, making it easier to document notes faster. The art of writing shorthand was called “stenography,” which translates to “narrow writing” in Greek.
Since shorthand bears no resemblance to the actual words, it's very easy to mistake the font for ancient text. The text looks like small curved lines with the odd dot and dash. Some of the letters are cursive and loopy, which makes them seem more like Arabic letters than English.
Though Thomas Pitman developed the initial system, Gregg revolutionized shorthand by focusing on the sounds of the words rather than the alphabets.
To better explain, the symbol for the sound of k could either be represented by the letter c or k. It can only be understood by reading the rest of the word.
Gregg grouped similar sounding letters together, and it reduced the time taken to document speech drastically. Another example was him grouping the sounds of letters d and t. He also devised symbols to denote commonly used words such as it, the, to, and for. Gregg also varied the lengths to tell the difference between diagonal lines and loops. Gregg's system was centered around circles, hooks, and loops.
He first published his work in the form of the pamphlet, Light-Line Phonography in the year 1888.
Though the Pitman shorthand was used in the United States, it wasn't very popular. So, Gregg took his revised version and traveled through the Midwest, the West, and the South, to teach and implement his system which caught on and became the standard in the country.
Wondering how effective shorthand is? Well, if someone picks up the shorthand system of Gregg, it will enable them to take down a staggering 280 words per minute.
The system hasn't entirely gone out of practice and is still used to take notes in legal, medical, and secretarial fields. Having said that, knowing shorthand is always going to be an advantage, especially if you wish to keep notes of things that you don't want others to know about.
Fancy learning this fancy script now?
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | robynmac