2014-11-04

terminology: orthographic vs. phonetic

Shorthand systems can be classified according to their place on the orthographic versus phonetic spectrum.

A purely orthographic system mirrors the spelling of its native language. An orthographic shorthand for English might start out with just 26 symbols to represent the letters A to Z and then add a few symbols to stand for the most common words.

A purely phonetic system writes a language based on its pronunciation with no regard for how it is spelled. In a phonetic system for English, the shorthand outlines for off, cough and staph would all end with same symbol which represents the F sound.

Some systems use a mixed approach. In Gregg Shorthand, for example, the consonant sounds are written phonetically (in general). Some of the vowels are lumped together in a way that is inspired by their most common spellings in English: the /eɪ/ diphthong of play, the /æ/ vowel in cat, the /ɑ/ of calm and the /ə/ of tuna are all written with the large circle called “a.” These phonemes have nothing in common except that they are normally written with the letter A in English.

The claims made by promoters of various shorthand systems often do not match their reality. Many stenographic scripts that claim to be purely phonetic are partly orthographic and vice versa.

1 comment:

  1. Strangely, I can’t comment on the articles about shading and German shorthand videos. Therefore, I use the most recent post for that purpose…

    The use of shading in Pitman looks a bit awkward in some outlines. Forming an obtuse angle _and_ changing thickness (writing pressure) seems quite difficult to me. (That’s why I’ve chosen a non-standard, but light-line, German system.) It’s interesting that Pitman uses shading for different consonants, whereas Standard German Shorthand uses shading for different vowels, e.g. close join of consonant symbols = e, close join with second consonant thick = a.

    The German shorthand video you have linked to contains excerpts of two dictations. That Youtube account has the full versions, too.

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