21 January 2010

[type] There Seems To Be No Such Thing As A Beautiful Shorthand

2305.I have certain requirements for my handwriting, no matter what mode it is; alphabetic, syllabaric, whatever. I also have a penchant for diary writing - actual diary writing, not public blogging (though I love this too, obviously).

Diarising fiend that I am, I find that, maybe I get lazy or something, but the chance write, put pen to paper, doesn't present itself as much as I'd like. Or maybe I'm too picky about my surroundings, or maybe I just approach it the wrong way sometimes.

Occasionally it occurs to me that I'd get more down and have more fun using a shorthand. Many of the great figures in literature, I find, used shorthand (George Bernard Shaw used Pitman). So, I think, now and again, the acquisition of a shorthand skill would be good. Problem: All the shorthand systems in the world I find ugly.

Here, sourced from Wikipedia, is The Lord's Prayer, written in the Pitman shorthand system:

Now, understand clearly that the following is meant as no reflection on the proclivities, preferences, or talents of the scribe who produced the above, but; ugh. Not beautiful. Not even pretty.

But what about the other major popular system, Gregg shorthand? Well, here's The Lord's Prayer in Gregg:

Better, but not by much. I find the presence of harmonious curves and a certain slant rather appealing, but not enough to commend.

Another thing that should be clearly understood is that I'm not judging each system on technical worth or efficiency; if you want to dash down a thought in a split-second, shorthand – developed for a time when court reporters had to do everything by hand – is just the thing. They accomplish thier goal by using coded strokes to map to sounds rather than letters to form phonetic bits. Aesthetically, though, these both leave colder than cold. And, moreover, say I do learn one of these systems, but fall away from using them. Decades later, am I going to have to carry about a key to remind myself what it was I wrote?

Some have devised their own shorthand, and I may or may not be that bright, but what good is a shorthand that will lock its secrets away with the absence of the owner?

A shorthand system may be something I'd use … but as for now, the search for such a thing continues. As for now, the plain old Latin alphabet will have to suffice.

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