Day 148 – Pitman Shorthand

Let me start by saying I didn’t know shorthand was still a thing. I honestly thought it went out in the 1980s, with the rise of the computer and more modern technology, so I was surprised to learn that it’s still commonly used in some careers. A stenographer must transcribe interviews, meetings, or court hearings, all as quickly and efficiently as possible, making shorthand the simplest option. I say simple, but it’s really a complex language mae up of different strokes. There are a few different varieties, but one of the most common (and oldest) is Pitman Shorthand, which has been around since its conception in 1837.

My mum studied Pitman shorthand when she was younger, but when I pressed her for some top tips, she barely remembered any. After looking at some of the strokes, I’m not surprised: it really is like learning another language, with a whole different alphabet. Pitman shorthand is a phonetic alphabet, so you end up with specific strokes for “ow” instead of “o” and “w” together. It’s a lot to take in.

My attempt

I followed a quick tutorial from a website, which detailed the basic sounds and letters, and then tried to make a sentence by myself. Well…this was not fun. I had no idea why some strokes should be under the line, and some halfway, and why you join some strokes together but not others: it really gave me a headache.

I didn’t enjoy this at all, but to be honest, I didn’t really care. This was the first time in a while where I felt like I was just going through the motions with my new thing: it’s not something I’ll use again (mainly because I didn’t get it right the first time), and it isn’t something I’m interested in learning further, I just wanted to give it a go. I guess that’s all part of the experience, I’m not going to love or hate everything, some things I’m just going to be apathetic about, and that’s OK too.

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