THOMAS NATURAL SHORTHAND is an English shorthand system created by Charles A. Thomas which was first published in 1935. Thomas described his system as "designed to meet the existing need for a simple, legible shorthand that is based on already familiar writing lines, and that is written with a minimum number of rules." The system has fallen into disuse with the decline of pen shorthand in the later 20th century, but the spirit of the system lives on in Teeline shorthand , with which it shares a number of characteristics (although the symbols used in each system are quite different).
A sample of Thomas Natural Shorthand. The text reads as follows:
Dear Sir: Please give the proposition we are enclosing your most earnest consideration. We believe you will find our line a money-maker from the start. We shall appreciate the privilege of sending you samples of those numbers in which you are interested.
Mr. Jones, who has charge of our sales in your territory, will call on you about the first of April.
We assure you of our desire to co-operate with you in every way possible. Let us know how we may be of immediate service to you. Cordially yours,
The system aims to be simpler to learn than competing symbol shorthand systems of the time, boasting "only twelve word signs and one abbreviating principle". Total mastery of the system could therefore be achieved much quicker than the major court-reporting systems, and although this simplicity did come with a loss of speed, the speeds achieved were still adequate for secretarial use.
The system's failure to achieve popularity came from its
"jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none" position. Those looking for an
easy to learn system were far more likely to choose alphabetic systems
Forkner shorthand or
Speedwriting ; those interested in
developing serious shorthand speed were drawn to more established
systems with a court reporting track record such as Gregg or Pitman.
To the untrained eye, Thomas Natural shorthand bears a close
COMPARISON WITH TEELINE
Teeline shorthand shares largely the same philosophy and approach as Thomas Natural Shorthand; it is however more accessible to beginners since the symbols used are themselves based on the Latin alphabet (although so abstractly that most would consider Teeline a symbol, rather than alphabetic, system). The Thomas Natural symbols, on the other hand, were chosen for speed rather than familiarity. Furthermore, Thomas Natural was published in the 1930s-1940s, at a time when alphabetic systems were just beginning their ascendency, whereas in the contemporary era in which Teeline is being promoted, the limitations of the alphabetic systems have made them less attractive than formerly, when their potential seemed greater.
* ^ Thomas, Charles A (1937), Thomas natural shorthand; a modern, progressive system of shorthand based on natural, already familiar writing lines, New York, Prentice-Hall, inc, OCLC 18220117
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