Gregg shorthand is a form of shorthand that was invented by John
Robert Gregg in 1888. Like cursive longhand, it is completely based on
elliptical figures and lines that bisect them.
Gregg shorthand is
the most popular form of pen stenography in the United States; its
Spanish adaptation is fairly popular in Latin America. With the
invention of dictation machines, shorthand machines, and the practice
of executives writing their own letters on their personal computers,
the use of shorthand has gradually declined in the business and
reporting world. However,
Gregg shorthand is still in use today.
There is a reasonable possibility that
John Robert Gregg
John Robert Gregg structured
his shorthand on the
Mnemonic major system based on the previous work
Pierre Hérigone and others following the publication of The
Anti-Absurd or Phrenotypic English Pronouncing and Orthographical
Dictionary by Major Beniowski in 1845.
Several versions of this system were published. Pre-Anniversary
includes the first five editions, the first one published in two small
paper-covered pamphlets in 1888, the second published in 1893, the
third in book form in 1897, the fourth in 1902, and the fifth in
1916. Anniversary, a revised and simplified form published in 1929,
was so called because it was to be published on the fortieth
anniversary of the system (1928), but there was some delay in
publication. In 1949, Simplified was created, in which many of the
principles and memorized forms were removed or simplified due to
findings of studies by the publishers and suggestions of many
shorthand teachers. Diamond Jubilee was published in 1963, which
simplified the Simplified version. Series 90 was published in
1978, which simplified it further. The last version was
Centennial, published in 1988, with several similarities to the
Diamond Jubilee system earlier. Besides these main editions, which
were designed for the dictation speeds expected of any shorthand
system of the time, a number of simpler, personal-use editions were
published from 1924 to 1968. These included "Greghand" in 1935, and
"Notehand" in 1960 and 1968.
Gregg is often contrasted to Pitman shorthand, as the two share
significant predominance over other English shorthand systems.
Pitman uses line thickness and position to discriminate between two
similar sounds, but
Gregg shorthand uses the same thickness
throughout and discriminates between similar sounds by the length of
John Robert Gregg
John Robert Gregg was originally a teacher of a
Duployan shorthand adaptation to English (
Duployan shorthand was the
dominant system in France, and also featured uniform thickness and
attached vowels). However, he found the angular outlines of
Duployan-based systems to be detrimental to speed. Gregg shorthand
features cursive strokes which can be naturally blended without obtuse
angles. In addition, because the symbols of
Gregg shorthand are
developed especially for English rather than adapted from a French
system, they are a better fit for the language (for example, Gregg has
a symbol for th /θ/ whereas the Duployan systems would use a dotted
t, which takes longer to write).
2.1 Pre-Anniversary Gregg shorthand
Shorthand Anniversary Edition
Shorthand Diamond Jubilee Edition
Shorthand Series 90
Shorthand Centennial Edition
2.7 Other versions
4 See also
6 Further reading
7 External links
Gregg shorthand is a system of phonography, or a phonetic writing
system, which means it records the sounds of the speaker, not the
English spelling. It uses the f stroke for the /f/ sound in
funnel, telephone, and laugh. All silent letters are omitted.
The image on the right shows the strokes of Gregg Shorthand
Simplified. The system is written from left to right and the letters
are joined. Sh (= /ʃ/) (and zh = /ʒ/), Ch (= /tʃ/), and J (or Dzh,
= /dʒ/) are written downward, while t and d are written
upward. X /ks/ is expressed by putting a slight backward slant on
the s symbol, though a word beginning ex is just written as if spelt
es (and, according to Pre-Anniversary, ox is written as if os). W
when in the middle of a word, is notated with a short dash under the
next vowel. Therefore, the letter Q (= /kw/) is usually written as
k with a dash underneath the next vowel. In Anniversary and
before, if z need be distinguished from s, a small tick drawn at a
right angle from the s may be written to make this distinction.
Sample of text from "A Christmas Carol", published in Gregg shorthand,
Many of the letters shown are also brief forms, or standard
abbreviations for the most common words for increased speed in
writing. For instance, instead of writing kan for "can", the Gregg
stenographer just writes k. These brief forms are shown on the
adjacent image. There are several others not shown, however. For
instance, "please" is written in Simplified and back as simply pl,
and "govern" as gv.
Phrasing is another mechanism for increasing the speed of shorthand
writing. Based on the notion that lifting the pen between words would
have a heavy speed cost, phrasing is the combination of several
smaller distinct forms into one outline. For example "it may be
that the" can be written in one outline, "(tm)ab(th)a(th)". "I
have not been able" would be written, "avnba" (note that to the eye of
the reader this phrase written in shorthand looks like
"I-have-not-been-able", and so phrasing is far more legible than a
longhand explanation of the principle may lead one to believe).
The vowels in
Gregg shorthand are divided into groups that very rarely
require further notation. The a is a large circle, and can stand for
the a in "apple" /æ/, "father" /ɑː/, and "ache" /eɪ/. The e is
a small circle, and can stand for the e in feed /iː/ and help /ɛ/,
the i in trim /ɪ/ and marine /iː/, and the vowel in her and learn
/ɜːr/. The ī represents the i in fine /aɪ/. The o is a
small hook that represents the al in talk /ɔː/, the o in jot /ɒ/,
cone /oʊ/, and order /ɔːr/. The u is a tiny hook that expresses
the three vowel sounds heard in the words who /uː/, up /ʌ/, and foot
/ʊ/. It also expresses a w at the beginning of a word. In
"Anniversary," short and long vowel sounds for e, a, o and u may be
distinguished by a mark under the vowel, a dot for short and a small
downward tick for long sounds.
There are special vowel markings for certain diphthongs. The ow in
how /aʊ/ is just an a circle followed by a u hook. The io in lion
/aɪ.ə/, or any diphthong involving a long i and a vowel, is written
with a small circle inside a large circle. The ia in piano /i.æ/
and repudiate /i.eɪ/ is notated as a large circle with a dot in its
center. In Anniversary and back, if ea need be distinguished from
ia, it is notated with a small downward tick inside the circle instead
of the dot. The u in united /juː/ is notated with a small circle
followed by an u hook above it.
Due to the very simple alphabet,
Gregg shorthand is very fast in
writing; however, it takes a great deal of practice to master it.
Speeds of 280 WPM (where a word is 1.4 syllables) have been reached
with this system before, and those notes are still legible to others
who know the system.
Some left-handed shorthand writers have found it more comfortable to
Gregg shorthand from right to left. This "mirror writing"
was practiced by a few people throughout the life of Gregg shorthand.
However, left-handed writers can still write
Gregg shorthand from left
to right with considerable ease.
Throughout its history, different forms of
Gregg shorthand have been
published. All the versions use the same alphabet and basic
principles, but they differ in degrees of abbreviation and, as a
result, speed. The 1916 version is generally the fastest and most
abbreviated version. Series 90 Gregg has the smallest degree of
abbreviation, but it is also generally the slowest standard version of
Gregg. Though each version differs in its level of abbreviation, most
versions have expert and reporting versions for writers who desire
Pre-Anniversary Gregg shorthand
Shorthand was first published in 1888 by John Robert Gregg;
however, it was in a very primal stage, and therefore did not gain
much success. Five years later, a much better version was published.
This version was published in a second edition in 1893, then in a
third edition titled "Gregg Shorthand" in 1897. The fourth edition,
published in 1902, developed more shortcuts. The fifth edition,
published in 1916, is the version most commonly referred to as
"Pre-Anniversary" Gregg shorthand; this version has the largest number
of brief forms, phrases, and shortcuts.
Shorthand Anniversary Edition
In 1929 another version of
Gregg shorthand was published. This system
reduced the memory load on its learners by decreasing the number of
brief forms and removing uncommon prefixes. It was intended to have
been published in 1928 on the fortieth anniversary of the system, but
it was published a year afterward due to a delay in its production.
Shorthand Simplified was published in 1949. This system
drastically reduced the number of brief forms that needed to be
memorized to only 181. Even with this reduction in the number of brief
forms, one could still reach speeds upward of 150 WPM. The system was
simplified in order to directly address the need of business
stenographers, who only needed to produce 100-120 WPM transcription.
The creator of an advanced reporting version of Gregg Shorthand,
Charles Lee Swem, wrote in The National
Shorthand Reporter, "An
abbreviated, simplified edition of our system has been published and
accepted for the purpose of training office stenographers, and not
necessarily reporters." He also advised, "I do not believe any young
student should hesitate to study Simplified for fear it will
jeopardize his chances of becoming a reporter. It is fundamentally the
same system as we reporters learned from the Anniversary edition. Once
Simplified is learned, the change-over to the reporting style is
comparatively simple and can be made by any writer."
Shorthand Diamond Jubilee Edition
The Diamond Jubilee series was published through most of the sixties
and the seventies (1963–1977). It was simpler than the Simplified
version, and reduced the number of brief forms to 129. For Diamond
Jubilee students who wanted to increase speed for reporting, an
edition of "Expert" Diamond Jubilee was available to push speeds
Shorthand Series 90
Series 90 (1978–1987) was an even simpler version, which used a
minimal number of brief forms and placed a great emphasis on clear
transcription, rather than reporting speed. Although it introduced a
couple of new abbreviations and reintroduced some short forms that
were missing in Diamond Jubilee, it eliminated several other short
forms, and was in the main simpler, longer, and slower than the
Shorthand was dwindling in popularity during this
Shorthand Centennial Edition
Published in 1988, this is the most recent series of Gregg shorthand.
It was the only version since the Pre-anniversary edition of 1916 to
increase the complexity of the system from the previous one, having
132 brief forms.
The above versions of
Gregg shorthand were marketed for professional
use, such as business and court reporting. Gregg
Manual, designed for junior high school students, was published in
1927 and 1929. Greghand, A Simple
Phonetic Writing for Everyday Use by
Everyone was published as a pamphlet in 1935. The 1960 and 1968
editions of Gregg Notehand focused on how to take effective classroom
and personal notes using a simple form of Gregg shorthand.
Gregg shorthand has been adapted to several languages, including
Afrikaans, Esperanto, French, German, Hebrew[citation
needed], Irish, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese,
Russian, Spanish, Catalan, Thai and Tagalog. With a few
customizations, it can be adapted to nearly any language. The Spanish
version, designed by Eduardo Vega, is the most popular adaptation.
Mandarin Chinese version slightly modified the original system,
under the name 'Beifang Suji (Northern Shorthand)'.
^ Gregg, John Robert (1922). Basic Principles of Gregg Shorthand
(PDF). New York: Gregg Publishing. p. 5.
^ History of the Major System
^ The Anti-absurd Or Phrenotypic English Pronouncing &
Orthographical Dictionary by Major Beniowski
^ The Mnemonic Major System and Gregg
Shorthand Have the Same
^ Gregg, John Robert (1895). Gregg's Shorthand: A Light-Line
Phonography for the Million. Boston: John Robert Gregg.
^ Gregg, John Robert (1905). Gregg Shorthand: A Light Line Phonography
for the Million. New York: Gregg Publishing Co.
^ Gregg, John Robert (1916). Gregg Shorthand: A Light-Line Phonography
for the Million. New York: Gregg Publishing.
^ Gregg, John Robert (1929). Gregg Shorthand: A Light-Line Phonography
for the Million (PDF). New York: Gregg Publishing.
^ Gregg, John Robert (1955). Gregg
Shorthand Manual Simplified (2d
ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-024548-7.
^ Gregg, John Robert (1971).
Gregg shorthand ([2d ed.]. ed.). New
York: Gregg Division, McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-024625-4.
^ Gregg, John Robert (1978). Series 90. New York: Gregg
Division/McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-024471-5.
^ Gregg, John Robert (1988). Gregg
Shorthand for Colleges. New York:
McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-037401-5.
^ Leslie, Louis (1968). Gregg Notehand (2d ed.). New York: Gregg
Division, McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-037331-0.
^ Gregg, Basic Principles, 2.
^ Pitman, Isaac (1916). Course in Isaac Pitman Shorthand. New York:
Isaac Pitman & Sons. p. 6.
^ a b c d e Gregg, 1929 Manual, 1.
^ Cowan, Leslie (1984). John Robert Gregg: A Biography. Oxford: The
Pre-Raphaelite Press. p. 18. ISBN 0-947635-00-9.
^ a b Gregg, Basic Principles, 16.
^ Sloan, John M. (1883). The Duployan Phonographic Instructor: An
Improved Adaptation to the English of the Duployan French Method.
Dublin: W. Leckie & Co. p. 11.
^ a b Gregg, 1929 Manual, 18.
^ Gregg, 1929 Manual, 29.
^ a b Gregg, 1929 Manual, 53.
^ Gregg, 1929 Manual, 23.
^ Gregg, 1929 Manual, 10.
^ Gregg, 1929 Manual, 66.
^ Gregg, 1929 Manual, 50.
^ Gregg, 1929 Manual, 15.
^ Gregg, 1929 Manual, 86.
^ a b Gregg, 1929 Manual, 3.
^ a b c Gregg, 1929 Manual, 61.
^ Gregg, 1929 Manual, 34.
^ Gregg, 1929 Manual, 48.
^ Gregg, 1929 Manual, 52.
^ Gregg, 1929 Manual, 4.
^ a b c Gregg, 1929 Manual, 65.
^ Gregg, 1929 Manual, viii-ix.
^ Leslie, Louis (1953). Methods of Teaching Gregg Shorthand. New York:
McGraw-Hill. pp. 128–129. ISBN 0-07-037254-3.
^ Swem, Charles Lee, "Why Gregg Simplified?" The National Shorthand
Reporter, 14(9): 385.
^ Jackson, Ernest L. (1918). Gregg
Shorthand Adapted to Esperanto
(PDF). New York: Gregg Publishing.
^ Senecal, R. J. (1939). Sténographie Gregg. New York: Gregg.
^ Greenberg, Samuel Valencia (1924). Gregg
Shorthand Adapted to the
German Language. New York: Gregg.
^ Widzowski, Józef (1926). Stenografja Polska. New York: Gregg.
^ Harter, Eugenio Claudio (1955). Estenografia Gregg. New York:
^ Gregg, John Robert (1923). Taquigrafía Gregg. New York:
Hollier, Dennis (June 24, 2014). "How to Write 225 Words Per Minute
With a Pen". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on
2015-03-11. Reporter offers "a lesson in the lost technology of
Gregg.angelfishy.net, dedicated to Gregg Shorthand's perpetuation
Internet Archives Public Domain Gregg
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