Stenography, often called shorthand, involves alternative handwriting systems that use symbols or letters instead of words. Stenography systems were created to make the transcription of meetings, court hearings, lectures and speeches faster and easier.
Traditional stenography systems include Pitman shorthand and Gregg shorthand. More modern systems include AlphaHand and Speedwriting.
Pitman and Gregg shorthand systems are both symbol systems, with lines, circles and curves representing words. AlphaHand and Speedwriting are alphabetic shorthand systems, which use letters to represent sounds.
Symbol systems take a long time to learn but have excellent speed potential. Alphabetic systems are easier to learn but don't have the speed potential of symbol systems.
Sir Isaac Pitman developed his system of shorthand in 1837, while John Robert Gregg created his system in 1888. Gregg shorthand caught on in the United States with court reporters and secretaries.
Alphabetic shorthand systems also work when using a keyboard. The Pitman shorthand system is still commonly used in England.
More sophisticated technology, such as personal recording devices and word processing software, has almost phased out the traditional stenography systems.
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