2014-12-20

quick summary of Emma Dearborn's Speedwriting

Here are some notes on the original version of Speedwriting invented by Emma Dearborn in the 1920s. (After she died various people controlled the Speedwriting trademark over the years and made modifications as time went by.) To learn more about this system, get your hands on a copy of Speedwriting – the Natural Shorthand by Emma B. Dearborn; the original version was published in 1923 and re-printed several times between 1923 and 1937.

Speedwriting can be handwritten or typed on a typewriter. (It is keyboard-friendly.)

Speedwriting uses all of the same "devices" used in other shorthand systems: omission of silent letters, phonetic writing rather than mirroring English spelling, systematic abbreviation of long words, arbitrary wordsigns (a.k.a. brief forms) for the most common words, combining wordsigns without spaces between them into phrases, etc.

Handwritten Speedwriting uses a slightly modified version of regular cursive writing. The "t" is not crossed, it is merely a tall vertical line, so the "l" must be written with a distinct loop.

A declarative sentence ends with a regular period (a.k.a. full stop) and a question ends with a normal question mark.

Omit all silent letters: know > no

Hard c becomes k: could > kd … college > klj

Infinitive "to" (as in "to see") becomes t, affixed to the following verb: to know > tno

In "as … as" phrases, as becomes s: as well as > sls … as long as > slgs

sol lkt mon Os. = Some will like it more than others.

wl lk tdo thwk. = We all like to do this work.

Words are written by sound rather than conventional spelling: new > nu, weigh > wa, try > tri

The "ch" sound is represented by c: check > ck … touch > tc

In the middle or end of a word the "ow" sound is represented by w: cow > kw … mouse > mws

The suffixes -ly, -ily, -ley are reduced to l: nearly > nel … family > fml … valley > vl

tk moti adou wkl. = Take more time and do your work well.

luk V tor pl nw? = Will you come over to our place now?

In the middle or end of a word the "ee" sound is represented by a comma: money > mn,

The ng sound is usually reduced to g: long > lg … sing > sg

-ing or -thing at the end of a word is also reduced to g: knowing > nog … nothing > ng

"and" is omitted from phrases like these: more and more > momo … over and over > VV

Two wordsigns can be combined to represent another word: anything > n,tg

Numbers larger than one are written numerically rather than phonetically: in a day or two > nad or 2

hod lk tg tr ag wme? = Who would like to go there again with me?

evy trs momo tdo. = Every year there is more and more to do.

In words like "something" the "some" is reduced to s: sometimes > stis

In words like "however" the "ever" is reduced to v: whenever > wnv

The "th" sound can usually be represented by t: them > tm

When "s" at the end of a word is pronounced as z, it is written as z: raise > rz

Past tense (-ed) and present participle (-ing) are omitted when the writer feels it is safe to do so: I am doing well > imdo l … I have worked for you before > ivwk fubf

somn lk tse hwmc ty kdo nad b Os tkmo ti ado evg l. = Some men like to see how much they can do in a day but others take more time and do everything well.

The "oi" sound is represented by y: boil > byl … joy > jy

The "st" sound at the end of the word is represented by a comma: past > p, … missed > m,

When the first syllable of a rootword is capitalized, this indicates that the rootword is followed by -er, -der, -ter or -ther: mother > Mo … larger > Lj

wkd tltm ab aO by hosd tsa tg. = We could tell them about another boy who said the same thing.

ehs hdhi befw atl, ta tm, kdw. = He had his head high but he found at last that it must come down.

Medial and final "ple" is reduced to p: triple > trp … sample > smp

The "sh" sound is represented by uppercase Z: rushing > rZg … shoes > Zz

A diagonal stroke (from lower left to upper right) represents "rd" or "rt" at the end of a syllable: card > k/ … artist > a/, …

To add plural "s" or present tense "s" to a word that ends with a symbol, repeat the symbol: birds > b// … casts > k,,

ustl fipp he holgiu akiw/. = You still find people here who will give you a kind word.

The "nd" and "nt" and "ment" sounds are represented by a hyphen: front > fr- … paint > pa- … sentiment > s--

"ity" at the end of a word can be represented by a semicolon: oddity > od; … divinity > dvn;

"nk" at the end of a syllable is represented by q: sink > sq … banquet > bqt

itq tyvb nts; mo, vtti. = I think they have been in the city most of the time.

fawl hwv tywk nets; osol-. = For a while, however, they worked near the city on some land.

update: Apparently I'm researching an article on the changes that happened to Speedwriting over the years. That must be the reason why there are so many Speedwriting books in my house?? After 1940 the people who took over the Speedwriting trademark made a lot of significant changes to the system.

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