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Back in the Day:  A Look at Transcription Technology Through the Ages

How does shorthand work?  Making sense phonetically

Shorthand (also called stenography) refers to systems of writing which symbolize sounds, words and phrases, speeding up the process of writing.  There are several systems of shorthand, invented at different times, each promising more efficiency in transcribing spoken dictation or dialogue to text.  Two popular types in North America and Europe are Pitman and Gregg.

Pitman shorthand

Screenshot 2015-05-18 15.55.42(image from Long Live Pitman’s Shorthand Blogspot)

http://long-live-pitmans-shorthand.blogspot.com/2013_02_01_archive.html

 

Gregg shorthand

Screenshot 2015-05-18 15.52.57

(Image from American Treasure of the Library of Congress)

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/tri190.html

 

Most shorthand systems are phonetic.  English often has multiple ways of spelling the same sound.  (For example, look at the sound ‘sh’ in these words: crustacean, potion, shell, machine, crucial, tissue, fission…and there are more.)  Shorthand systems use one symbol per sound, reducing the number of symbols that make up a word.  They also use the simplest possible symbols – one stroke, perhaps, rather than three.  Words are abbreviated–often vowels are omitted.  Some shorthand systems produce writing that is as complete and explicit in meaning as longhand, if you know how to read it.  Other systems, such as the widely used Gregg, must be transcribed into longhand soon after writing, or the meaning of the transcript may become difficult to glean.  Accuracy depends on memory and context.

 

Carmen Perry

 

Sources:

http://www.galleryofshorthand.org/history.html

www.alysion.orgHow to Write 225 Words Per Minute With a Pen

Dennis Hollier Jun 24 2014 theatlantic.com

 

Transcription Technology