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Shorthand

 Contents..

When I was a student, in lectures, students tried to write down notes about what the lecturer was saying. Portable voice recorders and similar devices let people record the audio of a lecture nowadays - and video it too. A fast typist could even bring a computer keyboard to a lecture and type the notes.

A shorthand system was most useful before that technology was common. One approach, in lectures, was to remove the vowels from much of a word so that it took less time to write. The skill is to leave in the vowels which are essential and strip out the ones which are not so that a re-read of the words still makes sense.

With my interest in memory techniques, I wanted a shorthand system which could also be used as a memory system for remembering quotes accurately in exams, etc. This article is the core of the shorthand system.

Typically, I am using 2 characters to represent words which are more than 2 characters long. Eg. An image meaning AC could be a prompt for 'ACcountant' or 'ACcessory'. The spelling prompts from an earlier lesson (People 00 to 99 article) can be used; or the alphabet A-Z images for weaker prompts: the Apple image (meaning 'A') can be stored at a mental location to prompt a word that begins with 'A' and a category of second letter: one of those people implies an 'A' followed by a consonant (person 71); and so 'A P-as-a-consonant -pointment' might be a prompt for recalling the word.

Word Code Default meaning Comment 2 Comment 3 Comment 4
why 0



how 1



because 2



what 3



for 4



where 5



or 6



when 7



and 8



if 9



a / an A



although A0



acid A1



alkaline A2



act A3 theatrical acting behave Perform a duty
already A4



angle A5



around A6



also A7



anything A8



able A9




(All of the shorthand...)

The shorthand system was adjusted in August 2007 to allow images which represent 2 words. This was done by considering that the images for 00, 01, 02, ... 98, 99 [00 to 99] could all represent a pair of words if the first digit occurs in a list of 10 words and the second digit occurs in another list of 10 words:


First digit represents these possibilities:

0 you

1 he

2 she

3 we

4 they

5 there

6 I

7 this

8 that

9 it


Second digit represents these possibilities:

0 is / are

1 has / have

2 want

3 had

4 can

5 could

6 will

7 should

8 would

9 were


So, 23 is 'she' followed by 'had': 'she had'.

94 is 'there / where' followed by 'can': 'there can' or 'where can' [deduced from the context].

Another adaption is to allow a digit and a letter to represent 2 words; the intention is to create an image library to represent 0A, 3D, and so on [a digit followed by a letter].

First digit represents these possibilities:

0 why / from

1 how

2 because / with

3 what

4 for

5 where

6 or / through

7 when / on / in

8 and

9 if / of / by


The letter represents these possibilities:

A a / an

B so / such

C she / her

D these

E they / them

F this

G something

H he / him

I I / me

J those

K that

L his

M my

N no / not

O other

P its / it's

Q any

R another

S some

T it

U our

V the

W we / us

X their / there/ they are

Y you

Z to / too


9R is 'if / of / by' followed by 'another':

'if another'; or

'of another'; or

'by another'

[deduced from the context]


Other Activities

Here is a switch of the options which could be represented by digits 0 to 9 :

0 is / are

1 has / have

2 want

3 had

4 can

5 could

6 will

7 should

8 would

9 were


And the second digit of a 00 to 99 number can come from:

0 you

1 he

2 she

3 we

4 they

5 there

6 I

7 this

8 that

9 it


eg. 00 could be 'have you'. Another 00 to 99 image system could reverse this so that 00 is 'you have'.


Since images for 00 to 99 now mean words, how would I represent the number 71 for it to actually mean 71? One approach would be to have a mental image which means 'interpret the next image in a different way to ususal' - imagine a phrase book for example to mean that. So, if you travel your mental locations and see a phrase book then the next mental location will surely be a number image which needs to be interpreted to be a number.

This system seems like a departure from the AA-ZZ system where ES might prompt for a word beginning ES... . Instead, now, ES means 'Easy'; but what if a word beginning with 'ES..' needs memorising? Can ES be used for that as well? One approach would be to create a mnemonic image which means 'use the next letter pair as a spelling prompt rather than as 'ES = Easy'; another approach is to create an extra alphabet pair system of images just for the shorthand system; and reserve the full AA-ZZ image system for the purpose of spelling prompts.

As long as you know a lot of mental locations in which to imagine each image, you could memorise a long piece of text quite reliably near the time of an exam. However, a memory system of mental locations, etc. is a big discipline to learn separately.


Note: 3 character codes like DE8 are new in 2020. It allows me to add to the shorthand a lot of words which I think are very useful for a beginner of a foreign language to know.

Some people say that you can communicate a lot in a foreign country by just pointing at things. At the other end of the spectrum is having an advanced knowledge of a language. The vocabulary here is intended to help the person who is pointing at things: by pointing and to use this set of words, a person could probably progress well in a foreign environment with regard to its language.