With voice recorders and keyboards available on every cell phone, the need to jot down quick notes is being eliminated. What was once the language of private detectives, reporters and historians is now relegated to the courtroom and with that, an important piece of our linguistic development is threatened with extinction. However, there’s something mysterious about reading over old notebooks filled with symbols and squiggles, and the loss of shorthand would take away that magic for future generations.

Whether or not shorthand is necessary in your job, there are many arguments against letting the language die out. We’ve highlighted five of what we think are the most compelling reasons to save shorthand.

1) Shorthand Connects Us to Something Greater

Here at Paperblanks® we celebrate timeless art, and using shorthand is one means of staying connected to the classics. The earliest shorthand systems date back to the mid-4th century BC in Ancient Greece, and this abbreviated form of writing is an important part of the histories of Ancient Rome, Imperial China, Victorian England and Modern Japan.

Copyright: Copyright Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents and Trustees of the British Museum (http://vindolanda.csad.ox.ac.uk/)

2) Using Shorthand Improves Your Focus and Listening Ability

When using shorthand you have to actively think about every word you write down. There is no blind copying when you must focus on summarising everything you hear into concise phrases and symbols. Rededicating yourself to active listening will only serve to enhance your social and academic experiences.

3) Maybe, One Day, We Can Beat the Epidemic of Text-Speak

Smartphones and instant messaging services aren’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean that our grammar and vocabulary have to suffer. Who hasn’t overheard someone complaining about “TMI” or professing to “lol” rather than actually laughing out loud? Text-speak is working its way into our everyday language as a type of modern shorthand. Going back to the original method of condensed writing in our limited 160-character messages would be a great way of preserving a classic language while heightening the classiness of our instant communications. Yes, this would involve a new keyboard design, but wouldn’t it be worth it?

4) The Sky’s the Limit When You Possess an Unusual Skill

Because the use of shorthand is so rare in this modern technology age, those who are fluent in the language are in high demand. Knowing shorthand can even open you to the possibility of being the stenographer at a salacious courtroom event, like President Clinton’s Impeachment Trial. Shorthand is not just a language of our history, but can actually help get you in the record book yourself!

Can you find the court stenographer?

5) You Can Teach Yourself a New Language Without Going Back to School

There are many accredited shorthand lessons and courses available online. Most proponents of shorthand are eager to see the language survive and therefore offer flexible courses at low rates. Get yourself started with this handy guide to Teeline Shorthand, or delve into the full language here.

Show us your photos of where you’ve used shorthand in your Paperblanks® journals and tell us about the experience learning a new (old) language. Good luck!

About Paperblanks®: We have been producing superb writing journals for twenty years. We are book people, and we believe that the written word matters and that our blank books have a critical role to play in the art and continued practice of writing itself. For more about Paperblanks®, go to our website at paperblanks.com.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I learnt shorthand in 1968 and although I haven’t used it in my job for years my boss is very impressed and fascinated when I jot a note down in shorthand. It would be a shame if it died out.

  2. I found out this new shorthand method called ShortPen which you can use for texting and the writer describes it as a form of gesture control. Its miles easier than Teeline but not as quick from what I understand. At least I can write again. 🙂

  3. Shorthand allows one to incorporate guiding principles to build speed, improve active listening skills, build vocabulary, think outside the box, and greatly improve your overall analytical skills. It’s simply a great tool to know.

    • Very good points, Trent! Do you use any of the existing shorthand “languages,” or use a hybrid that you’ve created for yourself?

  4. SHORTHAND is still relevant in-between secretaries in an organization, coz confidential information can be sent regularly and will be unknown to an unauthorized persons

    • Hi Oluwaseun,

      Interesting, thanks for letting us know! We knew that shorthand provided a lot of benefits in terms of speed and convenience, but the confidentiality aspect is one we hadn’t thought about.

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