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Q: Translating old shorthand ( No Answer,   7 Comments )
Subject: Translating old shorthand
Category: Reference, Education and News > Teaching and Research
Asked by: cholmondeley-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 25 Oct 2006 07:16 PDT
Expires: 24 Nov 2006 06:16 PST
Question ID: 776727
Where can I find someone who can help me translate some 18th century
shorthand?  I have inherited a notebook dating from about 1790 which
contains several pages of shorthand.  It definitely pre-dates Pitman. 
I have tried posting a request to Mensa and to the Society of

Request for Question Clarification by pinkfreud-ga on 25 Oct 2006 14:33 PDT
Do you have an image file that you could post online somewhere, so
that we can take a look? There were several popular systems before
Pitman, and seeing a sample page from your notebook would be very

Clarification of Question by cholmondeley-ga on 01 Nov 2006 00:44 PST
Yes I have some scanned pages, but nowhere obvious to put them.  I
don't have a website or anything like that.  Suggestions?

Clarification of Question by cholmondeley-ga on 01 Nov 2006 06:03 PST
I hope this works.  See link
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Translating old shorthand
From: myoarin-ga on 25 Oct 2006 14:52 PDT
Here is a possible source that you cannot access online, and probably
not in person:

Here is another shorthand collection:

Scroll down half way on this page and you will find a reference to an
18th c. shorthand:

I found a mention of "Taylor's shorthand" for the year 1786

Perhaps this could be of help, if you can access it:

And you might contact the National Shorthand Reporters Association:

And finally, are you sure what language the shorthand records?
Subject: Re: Translating old shorthand
From: cholmondeley-ga on 01 Nov 2006 00:47 PST
The language is almost certainly English - the rest of the notebook
consists of poetry, and it is probable that the shorthand pages are
poetry as well - lengths of line, similar sound symbols at the end of
each line, grouped in fours or sixes etc etc.
Subject: Re: Translating old shorthand
From: myoarin-ga on 01 Nov 2006 03:55 PST
I borrowed this from another question:
"Go to":
and create an acct. 

Upload the picture from your computer, then post the like here inthe
clarifications section. We can then click the link and go view your


Then access your picture and post here the URL at the top of your
screen so we can see it.  We can't "climb into" the website.
Subject: Re: Translating old shorthand
From: myoarin-ga on 01 Nov 2006 06:32 PST

It does work.  I hope the photo helps someone answer your question.

Cheers, Myoarin
Subject: Re: Translating old shorthand
From: ironclaw-ga on 18 Nov 2006 09:34 PST
Try asking a historian
Subject: Re: Translating old shorthand
From: myoarin-ga on 18 Nov 2006 16:07 PST
Have you tried any of the sources I suggested?

Entirely irrelevant to you question, it was interesting to see that
the person had divided each page into two columns, since it relates to
the subject of an early question about steno pads.  It is obviously a
much older practice than I thought and indicates an experienced
Does that suggest that the person was recording a spoken recital of the text?
Someone else's poetry?
I am just speculating:  
If the person had been just "encrypting" the text (as Pepys sometimes
did in his diaries), he or she wouldn't have had to prepare the pages
with the double lines.  Is it possible that the poetry in the rest of
the book could be transcripts of the shorthand?  ??

Trying to figure that out could be an interesting puzzle, but I hope
it is either immediately fruitful or can be quickly ruled out.

Good luck, Myoarin
Subject: Re: Translating old shorthand
From: cholmondeley-ga on 21 Nov 2006 06:33 PST
I have considered comparing the shorthand with the actual poems, but
it would have been a ludicrously cumbersome thing to do, because the
shorthand is effectively upside down at the other end of the book. 
Before you ask the obvious question, ink, the way the pen is handled
and the look of the paper all point to the same authorship.
The other indicator which runs counter to the idea that they may be
copies of each other is the obvious numbering system in use for the
shorthand; none of the poems are numbered at all.

I have followed up all your suggestions.  If I can get down to London,
I will try to visit the University Library.  No-one else has


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