Saturday, August 6, 2011

Stenograph Alphabet

While writing my last blog on which theory was less stroke intensive, Sten Ed or Phoenix, I wondered why the initial side and final side alphabets in both theories were so close.  Meaning, I wondered if Phoenix had borrowed from Sten Ed or from an older theory.

I located and bought "Touch Shorthand Dictionary and Handbook" published by Stenograph in 1968.  After looking through the book, it seemed like both Sten Ed and Phoenix probably "borrowed" the alphabet from Touch Shorthand (as well as some other things).  Doing some more research, however, I learned that the Stenograph Company was formed in 1938 and that the stenograph machines used today (the basic machine and keyboard layout) was invented by Ward Stone Ireland in 1911.  This means that the alphabet used by Sten Ed and Phoenix could be based on an earlier theory.

Believe it or not Ward Stone Ireland not only developed the basic alphabet we use today, but developed a fundamental stenograph theory that has influenced today's theories.  The 1968 Touch Shorthand theory is very similar to Ireland's 1914 theory (search Google book "Stenotypy" by Ward Stone Ireland published in 1914).  Today's theories are more complex due to the need to eliminate conflicts.

Getting back to the alphabet. The only differences between Modern theories and Ireland's 1914 theory are:
1. In 1914, Initial Z = S (Now: Sten Ed= S* and Phoenix= SWR)
2. In 1914, Final V = F  (Now: Sten Ed= *F and Phoenix= -FB)
3. In 1914, Final Z = S. Note that the 1914 (as well as the 1968) keyboard had no Z.

On an interesting note, on Google books I found a manual from Ward Stone Ireland for a stenograph machine in 1917.  Apparently, he "improved" on his stenograph machine keyboard layout.  Basically, he rearranged the key layout, added another 2 keys on the initial side, and added a bar below the lower bank of keys that added more consonants.

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