Some Pitman short forms

So far, we’ve looked at the basic characters that make up Pitman. Now we’ll start adding the “official” Pitman characters, starting with the ones that will save you the most time.

Pitman Shorthand lets you write every word phonetically, but for extra speed it also uses short forms. These are mostly commonsense abbreviations – the way we might use the symbol “&” instead of going to the trouble of writing out the word “a-m-p-e-r-s-a-n-d”.

Here are four of the most common short forms. Because they’re so common, Pitman gives them characters which can be written very fast. A dot on its own (heavy or light) written on the line means “the”. A similar lonely dot in the first position (ie, floating) means “a” or “an”. There’s no need to write the N in “an”, because the next word tells you which one it is. A little upwards tick – again, written left to write in the first position, means “and”. A little downward vertical line means “but”.

Those four were a bit arbitrary. Most of the other short forms are better, and are based on letters you already know. For example, a dash written in the first position is the sound of O. An O written vertically means “on”. Written at a downward angle, it means “of”.  I remember the “on” because it looks like it’s standing on something.

You remember that a bold dash in the first position stands for the sound of AW. Written upwards at a jaunty angle, it means “all”. Written downwards (right to left) it means ought.

You should also remember the sounds for YOO and IE. You won’t be surprised to learn that these are the official Pitman signs for “you” and “I”.

A dash in the third position stands for the two “OO” sounds. It stands for several short forms with the “oo” sound in them. A light, forward dash is “to”. A heavier dash is “too” or “two”. A light dash written with a backward slope (ie, written right to left) is “should”. A heavier backward dash is “who”. These are easy to mix up, so take some time to memorize them.

By now, you’ll have noticed that, when dash vowels are used as abbreviations, they’re written in a different orientation from normal – either downward or diagonally. This helps avoids confusion with regular vowels. It also that one common vowel sound can be used for several different fast-to-write words.

Efficiency is thereby augmented.

That covers some of the common vowels. I’ve started with those, because I found these to be some some of the hardest symbols to memorize. They all look alike, and most books just throw them at you, without explaining the vowels they’re connected to. But as you use them more, reading them will be second nature, your midichlorians will multiply, and the Pitmanic Force will grow strong within you.

Now here are a few short forms based on consonants. You should find these much easier. They’re all written on the line. D stands for “do” and T stands for “it”. Just “do it”.

The light TH sound (as in “thin”) is the short form for “think”. The heavy TH (as in “they”) is the short form for “they”. CH is “whiCH”. B is “be”.

Moving forward at warp speed now: C is “Come”.
G is “Give” – or “Given”. (The context will almost always make it obvious which one is meant. If it doesn’t, you can always write it out phonetically.)
M is “hiM”.
R is “youR”.
NG is “thiNG”.

And this says “Come give him your thing”.

Now, here are a couple of sentences made entirely from these shortcuts. See if you can read them. Answers at the bottom of the page, or just hover over the characters.



But more usefully, you can mix these shortcut characters with the “longhand” writing you’ve already learned. Here are some more examples for you to read.



1. Who should come to the thing? I think you ought to do it. You all ought to come.

2. But I think your thing, and a thing which I should do, ought to be on him.

3. Admit it – you despise my galactic ambitions. You think them cruel! But I care nothing for your thoughts, or what you think I ought to do. You are too timid. Soon I will give the two star systems a taste of my vengeance, a vengeance they will long remember. My robotic slaves will soon be off on the mission.

You are close to knowing a third of all the words in English. But first you must master the most challenging lesson yet!