Taking notes is easy with the help of technology in the digital age. You can record meetings, conversations, and ideas with apps that help you keep track of them, or you can do it the old-fashioned way. Before these helpful inventions, though, life wasn’t so easy. In the past, a way of writing called “shorthand” made it possible to take notes in real time.
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Greek historian Xenophon was the first person to use shorthand. But it wasn’t until the Roman Empire that people used the writing system to quickly take notes as people talked. Before the Middle Ages, the Latin shorthand system had been used for more than a thousand years.
During the Victorian era, shorthand became popular again after a long break. During the Reformation, it was also used to mark Bible translations more quickly. The need for stenographers during the Industrial Revolution led to the development of modern shorthand.
Sir Isaac Pitman made a modern version of shorthand in 1837, and in 1852, his brother brought it to the United States. Even though the Pitman style was popular in Britain, it was eventually replaced by the style of John Robert Gregg in the United States. In 1888, it was called Light-Line Phonography, but later it was called Gregg Shorthand.
The term “long hand” meant that words were written with long strokes, while “shorthand” meant that letters were written in their simplest forms. This made it easier to take notes and write things down quickly. Because shorthand doesn’t look much like the word it stands for, it’s easy to think it’s some old writing. Some people think it looks more like Arabic than English because of all the dots and loops that are used to shorten the vowels and consonants.
Once people learned Gregg’s shorthand, they were able to write down 280 words. It is no longer the only way to take notes, but it is still used in the legal, medical, and secretarial fields.
How do you feel about it? Have you used it before or do you know someone who has? Tell us what you think and share this with others so they can find out more about this strange script.