Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

“It’s worse than either system, but unity is important”

I was reading a book about the history of shorthand, with particular emphasis on Germany, and in the bit about the evolution of German Unified Shorthand (DEK = Deutsche Einheitskurzschrift; roughly, a compromise of the two predominating systems, Gabelsberger [49.6% of shorthand users] and Stolze–Schrey [35.2% of shorthand users]), it said that when the system was presented to parliament, Dr. Theodor Heuss (who would later go on to be federal chancellor) said, “the new system is worse than Gabelsberger, and also worse than Stolze–Schrey, but unity is necessary”.

Damning with faint praise :)

That was in 1925, and the system is still in use in Germany and Austria; all other systems are insignificant by comparison in terms of number of users. (In Switzerland, on the other hand, Stolze–Schrey is the virtual monopolist; not only in the German-speaking part, but also in the Italian-speaking part, which uses an adaption of Stolze–Schrey for Italian.)

Still, I’m probably going to go on with Stiefografie; in particular, the use of broad and thin strokes in DEK (as in Pitman) seems unappealing to me, and unsuited to being written well with ball-point pens (for example). (Though I’ve read that even without this distinction, DEK is mostly unambiguous.)

Also, while the “Vereinigung Rationelle Stenografie” is pretty unresponsive, I’ve found someone who not only offers correspondance courses but also resells the learning materials.

Right now, I’ll wait and see whether the materials I ordered from the VRSt will arrive (he said that their unresponsiveness has been a constant source of irritation to him over the years, but apparently he has ordered things successfully from them before, it just sometimes takes forever; so I’m not writing off my money as lost just yet); then I’ll probably start a correspondence course with him. He also said that of all the systems he’s tried for German so far, he found Stiefografie to be the best.

I may end up learning DEK as well, since that’s what anyone else who knows shorthand at all is likely to know; on the other hand, I don’t suppose many people still use it regularly (or even know it) these days, and my chief use of shorthand is likely to remain notes to myself, in which case it’s probably more important to use something that is easy to learn and easy to read and write and reasonably efficient over one that’s standard but is more complex and harder to learn—even if DEK, in its higher levels, claims that very high speeds are possible, I don’t see myself taking dictation, let alone transcribing real-time conversation without pauses, so absolute speed really doesn’t seem like a priority to me.

So it’s likely to remain Stiefo.

Also, while there was a pamphlet on how to apply Stiefo to English, that was from 1977 and is surely long since out of print. But I found a booklet in the public library on how to apply DEK to English, and I might take inspiration from that to apply Stiefo to English myself; that’d save me learning a whole new system of shorthand. (Though I did find a PDF of a Gregg manual with lots of examples and so on… but I’m not sure whether I’d manage to distinguish all those similar strokes in my writing, let alone reading.)

Tags: shorthand
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