Pitman, Gregg

   Shorthand is an old system for quickly recording speeches. Marcus Tullius Tiro invented what has come to be known as the Tironian system. Tiro was a freedman and amanuensis of Cicero. The ampersand (&), a contraction of the Latin and, is still sometimes called the Tironian sign. In 1837, Isaac Pitman (1813-1897), after studying Samuel Taylor's scheme for shorthand writing, introduced his shorthand system through his publication Stenographic Soundhand, which explained a system phonetically based on dots, dashes, strokes, and curves to signify various sounds. The system was not easy to master because it depended on the slope and position of strokes and on shadings, a light shade giving one phonetic sound and a dark one another. But the Pitman system was universally accepted, and the name Pitman became synonymous with "shorthand." Isaac's brother, Benn (1822-1910), immigrated to the United States and devoted his time to popularizing the Pitman system.
   Sir Isaac Pitman (1813-1898) was born in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England, the son of an English textile manufacturer. He was employed as a Sunday School superintendent, but devoted much of his life to the study and promulgation of phonetics. His love for phonetics never left him. The epitaph he wrote for his wife's grave read: "In memori ov MERI PITMAN, Weif ov Mr. Eizak Pitman, Fonetik Printer, ov this site. Deid 19 Agust 1857 edjed 64 Treper tu mit thei God' Amos 4, 12." Although there are a number of shorthand systems in the United States, the most popular one today, and the chief replacement of the Pitman system, is the Gregg system. Simpler than the Pitman system, it is based on naturally curved strokes of ordinary written script and does not require the shadings of the older system.
   John Robert Gregg (1864-1948) was born in Ireland, but his book The Phonetic Handwriting was published in England. Gregg migrated to the United States and introduced his simpler system of writing in shorthand. The Gregg system quickly took over as the most popular in America. That's the long and the short of it.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

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