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Troab Shorthand, origins and foundation

July 2018

The Troab Shorthand method is based on many years of development in shorthand system design, drawing on centuries of inventive ways to capture the spoken word on paper.

John Willis (b.1575), the ‘father’ of modern shorthand designed a geometric system based on a complete alphabet of consonants and using diacritic marks for vowels. Folkingham (b.1575) used selected portions of ordinary longhand letters and introduced blended consonants combinations, FL, FR and TR. This was picked up by Shelton (b.1601) using double consonant combinations for TH, SH and CH. Mason (1672) indicated medial vowels by writing a following consonant in one of three positions and writing the dominant vowel sound in double vowels. There was extensive use of abbreviated words and he appears to be the first to use a small circle to represent the letter ‘s’.

Samuel Taylor’s system (b.1768) influenced Gabelsberger (b.1749) and Duployé (b.1873); the latter system was adapted from the French by A.J. Pernin (1877) and later by J.M. Sloan (1884).

Isaac Pitman (1813-1897) published his ‘phonetic’ system in 1837; this was geometric-based and attracted criticism immediately. Anderson regarded the system as “one of the most ill-constructed and deficient systems ever invented”. Another critic, Thomas Malone, published his own system, ‘Script Phonography’ in 1886 and this was later developed by John Robert Gregg in 1888. both these systems used joined vowels instead of diacritic marks. The so-called ‘deficiences’ in the Pitman system were addressed by Benn (the Benn-Pitman version and later by Taylor (1903).

Reginald Dutton made his own analysis of the significant elements of shorthand design and drew attention to the sounds of R and L, and the letters T, D, N and S. His own system ‘Shorthand in one week’ (1916) was based on these conclusions.

Dutton’s analysis, but not his system design, was duly noted by Roy Tabor in July-August 1946 as a basis for Troab Shorthand (1951). A further influence was Emily Dearborn’s ‘Speedwriting, or natural shorthand’ (1923); this was a script system where Roman script letters are used together with some standard punctuation marks.

The Tabor shorthand method, Troab Shorthand, was formally published in 1951; it began as a script system but was developed into a two-level method of writing, Alpha, or Basic level and Professional level. This is a fully integrated shorthand method which can be used by the occasional note-taker and also by the professional shorthand writer where writing speeds of more than 100 words a minute are required.

The Basic (Alpha) level uses familiar script consonants and incorporates four core consonants in their contracted form from the Professional level. There are only three primary rules enabling Basic level to be presented as a self-study approach.

The word abbreviation rules are common to both levels so progression from Basic to Professional level is seamless and may be achieved partly or fully as needed.

Troab Shorthand has a firm foundation in the long development of shorthand design experience resulting in a versatile system that is fast to write and easy to read.

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