Voiced consonants

T and DThere’s a second set of consonants that use the same shapes we’ve already seen, but are written with a heavier line. If you take the thin vertical line that makes T, you get the Pitman symbol for D.

The sound of D is similar to the sound of T. In fact, the only difference between the two is that D is a voiced sound, and T is unvoiced. (Try saying Tuh-tuh-tuh-tuh, then Duh-duh-duh-duh.)

You’ll find that, in Pitman, similar sounds often correspond to similar shapes. That’s good. It means that even if you’ve written something sloppily, you’ll probably still be able to make sense of it. It also means that you should find the next set of consonants easy to learn – most of them are just voiced versions of the unvoiced consonants you already know.

P and BThe P symbol is an unvoiced sound. So, what happens if you make it a voiced sound? Try it – “Puh” becomes “Buh”. So, the Pitman symbol for B is a fat P. Again, say them one after the other – Buh-Puh-Buh-Puh… Hours of fun.

C and GIt’s the same for C – which, again, is the “Kuh” sound. It’s an unvoiced sound, but if you make it a voiced sound it comes out “Guh”. So, the Pitman symbol for G is a heavy C…

F and VIt’s the same for F, which, when voiced, becomes V…

Ch and J CH, where the voiced version is J…

S and Zand S, which, when thickened, becomes Z.

Sh and Zh

There’s also this pair – Sh, which, when voiced becomes Zh. If you’re not sure what Zh is, it’s the sound you get at the beginning of French words like “Jules”, or in the middle of English words like “usual”.

N and NgM and N are both already voiced sounds, but there’s no unvoiced version (try it – you’ll just get a sniffing sound through your nose), so they’re both written with a light line. However, the N symbol with a heavy line is used for a different type of heavy N – it’s the NG sound.

Here are a few more words (real and nonsense) you can test yourself on.


Bonk, Ming, Gak, Spock

bad, pet, leisure, this, fab, junk

I know what you’re thinking. More Vowels! Okay, okay. Here they are.