Does anybody use shorthand anymore?

I’ve often thought I’d like to learn shorthand. I write stories, and sometimes I like to write in public places where I’d prefer not having nosey people looking over my shoulder (even if they’re not, I’m constantly thinking that they might, and that’s kinda hard on the creative juices). Besides, I think it would be fun to be able to write in chicken scratches that almost nobody else can read even if I lose my notebook, then transcribe them later when I’m home on my computer. It would be sort of like writing in code. :slight_smile:

I’ve taken a look at a couple of online courses and books, but it just seems to me like it would be a really hard thing to learn without an actual teacher. Does anyone actually use shorthand these days, or has it gone the way of the dodo in our computer age? I know court reporters still use a kind of shorthand, but that’s created with a little machine, right?

Barring a real teacher which I think will be hard to find as a one-shot community college type class, can anyone recommend a particularly user-friendly online course or book? Maybe even something modern?

I work in a newspaper office, and yes, journalists use shorthand all the time, eg when taking notes from phone conversations.

I wish I could do it. I did try teaching myself from a book about 10 or 12 years ago, but never managed to improve on my longhand speed (and I often couldn’t read it back!) I can’t remember any of it now.

Get a book, practice, repeat. You need a lot of drills to get the forms into your memory.

One good way to practice is to transcribe song lyrics, as they are usually going at a moderate speed and there are gaps so you can catch up.

It is a very handy skill for many types of note-taking, with the advantage that most people can’t read it so it’s like a secret language.

Unfortunately I always found that, for me, I needed to transcribe it, if I was ever going to, within a day or two of taking the notes, otherwise it was kind of a secret language to me, too, as my technique wasn’t all that precise. (I sometimes have trouble reading my own handwriting, too.)

I think Hilarity has it right: practice, practice, practice.

Funny (sad?) story about my MIL and shorthand. In her 40+ year work career, she was an executive secretary fluent in some sort of shorthand. She continued to use shorthand for everything and everything remotely personal up to the day she died. Unfortunately, it was one of her own devising. More accurately, it started out as the “XXX” shorthand system but evolved over the years into her own personal code. After she died, I was the one to clean out her apartment. She had all sorts of documents, going back for years, with shorthand notations on them that no one could read. There were full 8x11 sheets of paper with shorthand written on it. I have no idea what it said. Were they Great Thoughts? Probably not, but I’d like to have been able to read them anyway.

Also, don’t think that writing in shorthand will keep people from looking over your shoulder. You’ll actually draw more attention, I’d think, because people will notice that you’re not writing normally and will have to interrupt and ask, “Is that shorthand!”

jayrey, that reminds me: around the same time I was trying to learn shorthand, we were going through a lot of my gran’s possessions after she died. She’d kept her diaries from right back when she was a young woman, in the late 1920s. Most entries were in plain extra but certain passages were in shorthand. I suspect they were the juicy bits from when she went out with a young fellow :wink:

I tried deciphering them and got the odd word here and there, but I think she must have been using a different system to the one I was learning. Maybe just as well.