It Looks Like Like Alien Writing. A Few Baby-Boomers Might Know What It Says

Writing words down in a hurry can be tricky: many words are written with more letters than they really need and spelling can get very strange, indeed. Gregg shorthand is one means to write words in a more efficient and much faster way. It was devised by Irish-American educator and publisher John Robert Gregg in 1888 as an improved way for stenographers to record speech. In some respects, Gregg shorthand might look similar to cursive but it actually works very differently. It uses a system of elliptical and bisecting lines to represent spoken sounds. So, someone who knows their Gregg can jot down the words someone is saying very quickly, recording the words as sounds rather than spelling them out in the usual way.

For decades, Gregg’s shorthand system (and others like it) were a big help to everyone from newspaper reporters, to courtroom stenographers, to students taking lecture notes, and of course to secretaries taking down dictated letters and memos. People of a certain age can remember the boss barking, “Take a memo !”

Gregg shorthand is still in use, though it isn’t nearly as popular as it once was. For some people, new technologies like dictation machines, tape recorders, personal computers, and now smartphones have rendered shorthand obsolete. Changes in office culture have played a part, too. More and more, everyone in the office types their own letters (or e-mails !), even the people at the very top.

If you like the idea of being able to write down the spoken word quickly and easily, you’ll definitely want to start with the video we’ve posted below. It’s the first part of a five-part course.

Was Gregg shorthand new to you or had you seen it in action before? We’d love to know, so please comment at Facebook. Also, like and share so your friends can either learn something new or take a walk down memory lane.