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Pitman On Phonography


Need for Shorthand (1852)


Advantages of Shorthand (1852)


Need For Shorthand


This excerpt is taken from Sir Isaac Pitman's book "A Manual of Phonography" of 1852 where he describes in detail the need for an improved writing system:



To this general disregard of the principles of a true orthography, in the spelling of the English language, may be referred much of the educational destitution that is seen among the working classes of this country. It is also the cause of a great waste of time* in attaining the elements of learning among all classes of society. The realization of a reformed system of orthography, by which these evils would be removed, many practical educators have considered* as highly desirable, though it has generally been thought to be unattainable. That which few had courage even to hope for, has been given to the world through the apparently unimportant circumstance of the publication, in 1837, of a new system of shorthand, based on an analysis of the English spoken language.


* Omission phrase "waste (of) time"  "have (con)sidered"



The author of this system* of Phonography had originally no intention to disturb the established orthography of the language, and in the 3rd edition of his work, published in 1840, he observed, "it is, of course, utopian, to hope to change the printed medium of intercourse of the millions who speak the English language; but it is not extravagant, or hopeless, to attempt to find a substitute for the complicated system of writing which we at present employ." It may, perhaps, not be inappropriate to observe that Phonography, with all the intellectual and social benefits that follow in its train, has resulted from the seemingly trifling circumstance that the author of the system at the age of seventeen, learned Taylor's system of shorthand from Harding's edition, and that he was incited to the study chiefly by the perusal of the following eloquent enumeration of some of the advantages arising from the practice of the art, from the pen of Mr Gawtress, the publisher of an improved edition of Byrom’s svstem. (300 words)


* "of this system" The large circle represents the two S sounds for convenience of reading, rather than to reflect pronunciation


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Advantages of Shorthand


This excerpt is taken from Sir Isaac Pitman's book "A Manual of Phonography" of 1852 where he is quoting the words of Mr Gawtress who inspired his first study of shorthand. The punctuation is copied exactly from the original book.

A practical acquaintance with this art is highly favourable to the improvement of the mind, invigorating all its faculties, and drawing forth all its resources. The close attention requisite in following the voice of the speaker, induces habits of patience, perseverance, and watchfulness, which will gradually extend themselves to other pursuits and avocations, and at length inure the writer to exercise them on every occasion in life.

When writing in public, it will also be absolutely necessary to distinguish and adhere to the train of thought which runs through the discourse, and to observe the modes of its connection. This will* naturally have a tendency to endue the mind with quickness of apprehension, and will impart an habitual readiness and distinctness of perception, as well as a methodical simplicity of arrangement, which cannot fail to conduce greatly to mental superiority.


* Omission phrase "it (w)ill"


* "this will" Downward L in order to join this phrase



The judgment will be strengthened and the taste refined; and the practitioner will by degrees become habituated to seize the original and leading parts of a discourse or harangue, and to reject whatever is common-place, trivial, or uninteresting. The memory is also improved by the practice of stenography. The obligation the writer is under to retain in his mind the last sentence of the speaker, at the same time* that he is carefully attending to the following one, must be* highly beneficial to that faculty, which, more than any other, owes its improvement to exercise. And so much* are the powers of retention strengthened and expanded by this exertion, that a practical stenographer will frequently recollect more without writing, than a person unacquainted with the art could copy in the time by the use of common-hand. It has been justly* observed, “this science draws out all the powers of the mind;—it excites invention, improves the ingenuity, matures the judgement, and endows the retentive faculty with those superior advantages of precision, vigilance, and perseverance.” (314 words)


* "at the same time" Halving to represent the T of "time"


* Omission phrase "mus(t) be"


* "so much" It is quicker to write this phrase than to lift the pen and use the short form for "much"


* "justly" omits the T sound

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