Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Shorthand, A Boon In Typewriting Days But Now, Both Are Nearly 'No More'!

ON THE WANE:N. Ramachandran, who set up a short-hand and typewriting institute in 1963, says that the demand for professionals has come down drastically, especially in Chennai.
I read this article in 'The Hindu' just now, about the usage of 'shorthand' which is slowly dying now. The article took me down my memory lane, to the early 70's, when I was a student of Shorthand and Typewriting!

Learning typewriting and shorthand was the 'in-thing' in those days.  I had finished my school just then and in the summer holidays, my mother joined me to a typewriting class where shorthand also was taught.  It was the norm in those days.  Most of my classmates had joined.  Every area had these typewriting institutes where shorthand also was taught.  You won't believe, the fee was Rs.10 per month for typewriting and another Rs.10 for shorthand, which were 1hour classes each! The class looked like the one in the above picture! The owner cum typewriting teacher of the class lived upstairs.  He was in his 40's I think.  He was monitoring from 5 am to 9 am (god, I still remember!) and then from 6 to 10 pm.  Students or working people came to the early morning or late evening/night classes.  It was strictly only 1 hour class at these periods.  In day time we can sit there and practice as much as we wanted if the typewriters were free. We had to take the plain papers with us and type on both sides.  We had to show him whatever we had typed while leaving the class.  Typewriter ribbon cost was not charged was covered in the Rs.10 fee! God, our fingers and shoulders used to ache in the early days hitting the keys...

asdf fdsa on left hand fingers
jkl; ;lkj  on right hand fingers

We were asked to type this sentence many times.  'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog'  which uses every letter in the English language.

Got this 'fingering' picture from this link 

I remembered the name of the typewriter also, which I used, Remington! Thanks to google
I got 'Higher' exam certificate for typewriting.  The typewriting classes and the examination centres (Govt. Schools) used to be very crowded.  The Hindu article says how it is now, very deserted. 40 words per minute for 'Lower' exam and 100 words per minute (wpm) for 'Higher' exam, I think. My sons and husband use the computer keyboard in their own type/style of fingering now! I got the Pitman book and fingering book for my elder son...I must ask him if he is using the old fingering method for typing in his computer! He didn't learn shorthand though!

An old gentleman was taking shorthand classes (Pitman method) in the intstitute.  I still remember him...he used to chew paan! But his English Accent and booming voice were superb.  Words were very clear...he used to read texts (books were there especially for this purpose with marks/lines after every 40 words (40 wpm) for lower speed and 100 for higher exam speed).  The tone should change when the next sentence starts. Concentration is very very important while dictating or while taking notes. We took notes in shorthand in a ruled note book, which looked like it is shown below.  Lines have more gaps in between for writing 'on top of the line, on line and across the line' strokes with PENCILS!
Shorthand note books (link)
Students/people who went to colleges and offices, used to take shorthand notes in the morning, transcribe it in daytime, come back in the evening or the next morning and get corrected.  After I wrote Lower shorthand exam, I started assisting our teacher in the evenings with dictations.  Clarity in words is important for shorthand.  The strokes are written according to the phonetic sound.  Our grammar should be good because when we write strokes we skip the strokes for some words/grammar etc.  My language improved because of my shorthand learning, at least to some extent!  Now, to some strokes:

The two pictures show the shorthand strokes clearly (link)

You can notice that the strokes are written above the line, on the line and some reach below the line.  The strokes will be thick or thin and the meaning changes accordingly.  After a lot of practice, we can start using our own shortest strokes.  I used to dream about new strokes in my dreams in those days! I was really obsessed with shorthand!

I wrote the higher exam also in shorthand and I was the only person who passed from the exam centre, I remember (the centre was some Govt. school in Kodambakkam, Chennai).  I don't remember the marks or class! The certificate is somewhere with my old papers now!

Our Institute teacher gave me a thick ink pen as a prize! I had it for many years!


P.S.: Thank you google for the above link!


sm said...

i also learned it but forgot shot hand but typing helps me lot today also.

Sandhya said...

sm: Thanks for the first comment, sm!

Sometimes I use shorthand to note down things which I don't want others to decipher, in my diary! Typewriting is always useful, like you say!

KParthasarathi said...

The knowledge of TW and SH would not go waste.You must be typing faster in your laptop than those who had not learnt.I joined a TW class in my 70th year but left after a month.
We hardly use writing instruments like pencil and pen these days except for signing.Many old gadgets are becoming extinct and newer ones filling the space!

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Those were wonderful days. Pitmans shorthand and Remington typewriter.

Many girls after high school studied shorthand and typewriting with the aim of become secretaries in offices. Most girls did not look for other jobs. Now we can see how the time has changed. Women are everywhere doing jobs which were once considered a male bastion.Many women are doing better than their male counter parts.

Yes. it is astounding how everything has changed over a period of time.

Your post brought nostalgic memories back to me.

Best wishes

SG said...

Thanks for the nice info. No one is using shorthand nowadays. I remember a joke. A boss asked a secretary if he can take shorthand at 120 words per minute. The secretary asked him if can he speak 120 words a minute.

Destination Infinity said...

I learned typewriting through an institute like this. Even in my days, it was quite crowded. Those were pre-computer-everywhere era! But I never took any typing exam. Once I was comfortable with basic fingering, I dropped out. I use proper fingering taught there to type on computer even today, that makes me type faster :)

Glad you passed Higher in both typing and shorthand. My mother also did.

Destination Infinity

Zephyr said...

I remember the typewriter. We had one at home which had belonged to my brother. He had learnt typing and shorthand when he was in high school and had started working at 15! He would practice endlessly with the Pitman's along with my sister who dictated to him. I inherited that typewriter and it had helped me earn some extra by freelancing later in life. Loved this nostalgic post :)

Sandhya said...

K PARTHASARATHY: Yes, I can type fastly! Your typewriting class experience must be helping you too at least to some extent, to type fast!

Many old gadgets are absconding in a fast pace nowadays! But thank god, most of us are learning fast to use the new ones!

JOSEPH PULIKOTIL: Yes, women are seen doing all types of jobs now...pilots to truck drivers. Most of the school toppers are girls nowadays! Feel happy!

Thank you!

SG: Journalists still use, it seems except while recording incidents. Talking at 120 wpm...he would have ran away!!!

DESTINATION INFINITY: Many girls in my class had passed these exams!

Good to know that you are using fingering to type even now.

ZEPHYR: Your typewriter must be sleeping now. I think we too have one portable typewriter in the attic! Then electric typewriter came which needed feather-touch fingering, which took time to get used to since we were used to bang the keys in the old typewriters! Hmmmm...let us all record our experiences here about our good old days...our children will write about their 'good old days' which is the current period! All of us feel 'old is gold' because we don't remember the negative things of those days, which is good, actually!

Thank you, Zephyr!

Loco mente said...

Those were simple days. Typewriting is still needed. It teaches how to type properly. This might help in reducing wrist and finger pain.

logic said...

Nice post i grew up listening to the typewriter sound as my dad started his career as a stenographer.
This post of yours brought back those memories.

Renu said...

I too started learning shorthand and typing but never completed the course but because of typing i could use the keyboard of comp very easily..

Sandhya said...

LOCO MENTE: Yes, people who don't use the normal fingering, tend to type in single fingers of both hands and they ache later. Fingering gives speed too!

LOGIC: Thank you!

RENU: Yes, fingering helps us to learn to use computers fast!

Rama Ananth said...

What a lovely post on TW and SH. Even I went to a class looking just like the one in the picture. bought all the books but never could master both.
We also have one typewriter, but not in the attic. Many times I have felt the urge to use it, but somehow never got to the point of using it.
Those days it was mandatory to learn all these things, whether one liked it or not.
Yes, even I used to think of making use of SH to note down things which nobody would understand except me, but it turned out I was never good in it.
Nice walk down the memory lane!

Jeevan said...

My uncle, who finished higher in typewriting, taught me the basic or how to place fingers and reach words on keyboard, and I practiced in that method and used to type pages, just ABCD... and also reverse in order until I become familiar with words. I haven’t used typewriter but have typed few lines when I once got chance to accompany one of my neighbors friend to a typewriting institute in neighborhood when I was in school. So I could connect with your experience, but i don’t think i will learn shorthand even if someone taught me.

Sandhya said...

RAMA ANANTH: As all parents think that their children should learn to use computers (!), it was the norm that all children, mainly girls, should learn at least typewriting if not shorthand. So our generation people were familiar with typing.

It is interesting to try to write in shorthand, just to test our memory!

Thank you, Rama!

JEEVAN: Yes, it is difficult to learn typing in the beginning, but once you learn, it is for life!

Unless you are interested you can't learn a new art and now shorthand is not used that much, except journalists, I think!

Thank you, Jeevan!

rudraprayaga said...

Everything has its own time of flourishing and expiring.Now the cassettes, floppies are also in their list.Nice write-up,Sandhya.

radha said...

I learnt typing on my grandfather's Underwood typewriter with a Learn on your Own book. Same - asdfg ;lkjhj
Makes the use of computer keyboard so easy

Sandhya said...

RUDRAPRAYAGA: Yes, Rudraprayaga! No regrets. We are blending with times. I still have got some cartons full of cassettes in the attic. No player though!

RADHA: Yes, the knowledge of fingering is helping us to type fast in the computer key boards!

Shail Mohan said...

I have attended a few classes in typing ages back :)

Sandhya said...

SHAIL MOHAN: Do you use fingering while typing? Once you learn fingering, you will never forget!

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