Few would argue that Sir Isaac Pitman, the inventor of the shorthand system that bears his name, should not be held in high esteem, revered even. But I was stunned to come across an article with the headline “The land where Isaac Pitman, shorthand inventor, is a god”.
His deification appears to have happened in the Indian city of Chennai. In his fascinating article for The National, reporter Samanth Subramanian tells how: “The entrances to many buildings in this southern Indian city are graced by small shrines, miniature temples, almost, to one or the other of the Hindu pantheon’s gods and goddesses.
“Among the most extraordinary of these sits in the courtyard of a building in the crowded neighbourhood of T Nagar. Resting on a plinth is a garlanded, foot-high bronze statuette of a lushly bearded 19th-century Englishman named Isaac Pitman.
“The building houses the headquarters of the Stenographers’ Guild, which explains the devotion to Pitman, a vegetarian and teetotaller who was knighted in 1894 and died aged 84 in 1897. In 1837, he developed the most widely used form of shorthand, a system of strokes, hooks, dots and squiggles, based on phonetics, which enabled stenographers to transcribe speeches with great speed and accuracy.”
Please check out the rest of this great article for the full story. The honour paid to Sir Isaac appears to be well supported. Responding to the article, Ramesh Menon said: “It was a fitting tribute to thousands of stenographers world-wide, who once ruled the administrative part of private and government offices and establishments.
“Just three decades away, we were in a world when aspiring students rushed to numerous short-hand and typewriting institutes and pass out from there improving their English skills as well as a handy tool to start their career away from home. The short-hand learning methodology rightly provided the person a correct grip and grasp on the language as well as enabled him to concise what is dictated or heard in person.
“In addition, those days, it proved an opportunity to read English literature and learn more about the nuances of the language and its grammar requirements. This field of technical education produced several eminent administrators who silently and efficiently supported great leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and JRD Tata.”
Perhaps Pitman Training in the UK might consider something similar…???