We were surprised and delighted to hear that Sir Isaac Pitman was a key focus in BBC Radio Four’s Word of Mouth programme last week – you can catch it on the BBC iPlayer.
The programme was about the “weird and wonderful world of shorthand”, so it’s only fair that Sir Isaac was given pride of place – after all he invented shorthand back in 1840!
Various people are interviewed in the programme, including those who have learned and teach shorthand and Sir Isaac even makes an appearance himself, thanks to the programme makers finding a recording of him when he addressed the National Phonographic Society in 1891. He wasn’t able to attend the meeting so he sent a recorded address in a wax cylinder...
By means of phonography, the photograph, electric light and many other inventions, and by the discovery of some of the latent powers of nature, we are taking hold of the links that joins this natural world to the world of causes. The spiritual world. Let us all believe, with humility and gratitude, if not with fear and trembling. This speaking is one of the results of the combined labours of many enthusiastic phonographers who have worked with me during 54 yrs in perfecting a brief representation of the sounds of speech. Their labours, by extending phonography to all parts of the earth where the English language is spoken, have brought me in communication with a great number of people who reside in different countries.
Of course, we’re a little bit biased, but wow! The word visionary can be over-used, but as it means ‘a person of unusually keen foresight’ we think it’s spot on in this case. We wonder what he’d of made of the evolution of the English language today – such as with text speak and emoticons - and the development of television, the world of social networking or just the internet in general. He’d have been an early adopter at the very least!
We know that the world of shorthand can be wonderful and can transform your working life – but once you learn it, you’ll realise it’s not weird at all. We now offer a range of shorthand courses – based on the Teeline system which was a development of Sir Isaac’s work – and SpeedWriting, which can be learned in a matter of hours and increase your writing speed to 40wpm.
We hope you get chance to listen to the documentary – please let us know what you think. Oh, and last but not least, Michelle from Pitman Training Preston was also commissioned to write the transcript of the documentary for the BBC – another link that we have to this fascinating programme.