Remember Shorthand?

NY Times: Shorthand wasn’t always just for secretaries and court reporters, Leah Price writes in her essay on the history of shorthand in the London Review of Books.

Before the 1870s, it was used more for writing down one’s own thoughts or discretely noting the conversation of others. Samuel Pepys, Isaac Newton and Charles Dickens used it, as did legions of “spirit-rappers, teetotalers, vegetarians, pacifists, anti-vivisectionists, anti-tobacconists,” and other members of a “counter-culture of early adapters” who generated something of a shorthand craze in mid-19th-century Britain. Isaac Pitman, creator of the wildly successful “Stenographic Soundhand” method still used today, made arguments that don’t sound so different from the tweeting techno-evangelists of our age. When people correspond by shorthand, he declared “friendships grow six times as fast as under the withering blighting influence of the moon of longhand.”

I remember my mother with her spiral top notebook and two columns of lines writing down what seemed to me to be completely indistinguishable marks. Anyone out there know shorthand? Is it of any value today?


(Haven't read the article, yet).

I took two terms of shorthand, many years ago. At the end of the second term it finally *clicked* and it was just a matter of building up speed. Unfortunately, they never offered the class again (there were only three of us at my last term) and I didn't have the self-discipline then to keep practicing by myself. I just checked out a shorthand book last week so I can learn it again.

btw, they used shorthand to send hidden messages in the latest season of Torchwood. They also used shorthand in the Doctor Who episode "Blink." In both cases, it was young people using it.

Subscribe to Comments for "Remember Shorthand?  "