Gregg shorthand is a form of stenography
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 structured his shorthand on the Mnemonic major system
based on the previous work of 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, 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 huge
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 the stroke. John Robert Gregg was originally
a teacher of a Duployan shorthand adaptation to English. 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. Writing
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 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, Ch, and J are written downward, while t and d are
written upward. X is expressed by putting a slight backward slant on the s
symbol, though a word beginning ex is just written as if spelt es. W when in
the middle of a word, is notated with a short dash under the next vowel.
Therefore, the letter Q 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. 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 image to the
right. 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”.
The vowels in Gregg shorthand are divided into three main groups that very
rarely require further notation. The a is a large circle, and can stand for the
a in “apple” , “father” , and “ache” . The e is a small circle, and can stand
for the e in feed and help , the i in trim and marine , and the vowel in her
and learn . The ī represents the i in fine . The o is a small hook that
represents the al in talk , the o in cone , jot , and order . The u is a tiny
hook that expresses the three vowel sounds heard in the words who , up , and
foot . 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 is
just an a circle followed by a u hook. The io in lion , or any diphthong
involving a long i and a vowel, is written with a small circle inside a
large circle. The ia in piano and repudiate 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 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 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 write 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.
Versions Throughout the history of Gregg
shorthand, different forms of Gregg were published. All the versions use the same
alphabet and basic principles, but they differ in degree 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 version of Gregg. Though each version is
different in its level of abbreviation, most versions have expert and reporting
versions for writers who desire more shortcuts.
=Pre-Anniversary Gregg shorthand=Gregg Shorthand was first published in
1888 by John Robert Gregg himself. 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 a full book in a third edition was entitled “Gregg Shorthand” in 1897. The
fourth edition in 1902 developed more shortcuts. In 1916, the fifth edition
was published, which is what is most often the edition meant by the term
“Pre-Anniversary.” This version of Gregg Shorthand has the largest number of
brief forms, phrases, and shortcuts.=Gregg 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.
=Gregg Shorthand Simplified=Gregg 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 producing business stenographers who
only needed 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.”
=Gregg Shorthand Diamond Jubilee Edition=
The Diamond Jubilee series was published through most of the sixties and the
seventies. 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 upward.=Gregg Shorthand Series 90=
Series 90 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 previous editions. Shorthand was dwindling in popularity
during this series’ usage.=Gregg 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
Gregg shorthand has been adapted to several languages, including Afrikaans,
Esperanto, French, German, Hebrew, 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, whose designer was Eduardo Vega, is the most popular adaptation.
The Mandarin Chinese version slightly modified the original system, under the
name ‘Beifang Suji(Northern Shorthand)’. See also
Court reporter Pitman shorthand
^ Gregg, John Robert. Basic Principles of Gregg Shorthand. 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 Underlying Structure
^ Gregg, John Robert. Gregg’s Shorthand: A Light-Line Phonography for the
Million. Boston: John Robert Gregg. ^ Gregg, John Robert. Gregg Shorthand: A
Light Line Phonography for the Million. New York: Gregg Publishing Co.
^ Gregg, John Robert. Gregg Shorthand: A Light-Line Phonography for the Million.
New York: Gregg Publishing. ^ Gregg, John Robert. Gregg Shorthand: A
Light-Line Phonography for the Million. New York: Gregg Publishing.
^ Gregg, John Robert. Gregg Shorthand Manual Simplified. New York:
McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-024548-7. ^ Gregg, John Robert. Gregg shorthand.
New York: Gregg Division, McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-024625-4.
^ Gregg, John Robert. Series 90. New York: Gregg Division/McGraw-Hill. ISBN
0-07-024471-5. ^ Gregg, John Robert. Gregg Shorthand
for Colleges. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-037401-5.
^ Leslie, Louis. Gregg Notehand. New York: Gregg Division, McGraw-Hill. ISBN
0-07-037331-0. ^ Gregg, Basic Principles, 2.
^ Pitman, Isaac. Course in Isaac Pitman Shorthand. New York: Isaac Pitman &
Sons. p. 6. ^ a b c d e Gregg, 1929 Manual, 1.
^ Cowan, Leslie. 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.. 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. 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.. Gregg Shorthand Adapted to Esperanto. New York: Gregg
Publishing. ^ Senecal, R. J.. Sténographie Gregg.
New York: Gregg. ^ Greenberg, Samuel Valencia. Gregg
Shorthand Adapted to the German Language. New York: Gregg.
^ Widzowski, Józef. Stenografja Polska. New York: Gregg.
^ Harter, Eugenio Claudio. Estenografia Gregg. New York: Gregg.
^ Gregg, John Robert. Taquigrafía Gregg. New York: Gregg.
Further reading Hollier, Dennis. “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 shorthand.”
External links Gregg.angelfishy.net, dedicated to Gregg
Shorthand’s perpetuation Internet Archives Public Domain Gregg
Shorthand Novels and Manuals