shorthand "Groote"

The Dutch shorthand system "Groote" was introduced in 1899 by A.W. Groote, aide to a Dutch general. Apparently he needed a system that he could use to take down the general's words while riding a horse! None of the existing systems worked because of the use of diacritical signs like dots. Even while going slowly on a horse, dots transformed into stripes. This is why he devised a cursive system (site).
Groote (the stenography system, not the man) has been specifically designed for the Dutch language but can also be used for other languages. I will give examples in Dutch and English. In order to write faster several techniques are used.

Simplify characters

At the age of six I learned the v like this:

It is not really complicated, but whoever invented the romantic pig tail at the end, did not have writing speed in mind. Groote simplified it to

The k I found particularly difficult to master, especially with pen and ink, and being lefthanded.

In shorthand I could have done those excercises must faster.

While the ordinary v and k are very different, in shorthand they look much more the same. This means that while shorthand is easier to write, it is harder to read back.

Write phonetically

In Groote shorthand we write words phonetically. There are some exceptions but most of the time you can write what you hear. School is written as s-g-oo-l in Dutch. (oo is one character in Groote.) Chrome is written as k-r-oo-m. Bear becomes b-e-r and egg is written as e-g. There are no capital letters.

Write in one long stroke

In Groote, each word is written without taking the pen from the paper. Crossing the x or dotting the i is not necessary. This eliminates time consuming pen movement.

Use abbreviations

For many often used words there are abbreviations. One of the more difficult ones is v-e-n-s-g which is short for verontschuldigen. Or what do you think of r-e-p-r-i-v for representative. Apart from having to learn to read and write again, you also have to learn pages and pages of standard abbreviations (about, above, accept, account, address, acknowledge, etcetera)

Leave out characters

There are several generic rules on when to leave out characters. Bakker becomes b-a-k-r, stuurde: s-t-u-r-e, lopen: l-oo-p. This can lead to possible confusion: i-r-e-s may mean interest or interesse.
Some English examples: handmade becomes h-a-n-m-aa-d, trusted: t-r-u-s-e-d, did: d-i.

Here is a list of the Dutch rules.


Let's unravel the bit of shorthand at the top of the page.

If we write the characters apart from each other, we get:

It says k-o-r-s-r-i. What does it mean? Well, s-r-i is the abbreviation for schrift. So we have korschrift. This is not correct Dutch but looks very similar to kortschrift. And since that is a correct way to shorten this word, this is what it is! Sometimes some detective work is required to read it back. Kortschrift literally means 'short writing'.

The signs

These are all the different signs in Groote shorthand.


The short a-sound. NL: kas, gas, zak, EN: at, care, ago. Vowels are written upwards.


The long a-sound. NL: kaas, gaas, zaken, EN: age, make, car, mark. The width of the sign is twice the height. Long vowel sounds have wide signs and short ones have narrow signs.


NL,EN: bad. Consonants are written downwards.


NL,EN: chef, machine, EN: watch, cheese. If ch is pronounced as g (NL: chloor), it is written as g. If it is pronounced as k (EN: chemical), it is written as k.


NL,EN: Ada.


The short e-sound. NL: eb, EN: reduce, egg, men. The height of the sign is half that of the a-sign.


NL: beek, EN: see, queen. The long e-sound. The width of the sign is equal to the height of the a-sign.


The f- and v-sound. NL: faam, vaak, EN: far, visit, rough, photo.


The g-sign is identical to the a-sign, except for the writing direction. NL: goor, chloor, EN: give, gentle.


The height of the h-sign is one quarter of the height of a-sign. This is the only sign that slants backwards. NL,EN: hen.


The short i-sound and y-sound. The width of the i-sign is equal to the height of the a-sign. If this sign appears at the start of a word, it is written at the height of the a-sign. NL: kip, EN: whirl, finish, hurry.


The long i- and y-sound. NL: mies, typisch, EN: ice, piece, why, isle. The width of the ie-sign is twice the height of the a-sign. Once again, if this sign is at the start of a word, it is written at the height of the a-sign.


The height of the j-sign is one quarter of the height of the a-sign. The j-sign can be easily mistaken for the u-sign. NL: Janneke, sjerp, EN: join, yellow.


NL: kus, NL,EN: club, EN: kiss, chemical, unique.


The l-sign has a diameter of one quarter height of the a-sign. It is drawn clockwise. NL,EN: link.


NL,EN: made.


NL,EN: node.


The short o-sound. The height of the o-sign is 1.5 times that of the a-sign. If the o-sign s the first in the word, it starts below the baseline. NL:dof, EN: none, worth.


The long o-sound. The width of the sign is three times the height of the a-sign. NL: boom, oma, EN: so, door, old.


A sign with complications. The Dutch oe-sound ( ik doe ) is the same as the English oo-sound ( boot ) and the Dutch oo-sound ( boot ) is the same as the English oe-sound( John Doe ). In the English examples we already see an exception to this rule. The English language is no known for its vowel sound consistency. To complicate things further, Groote does not allow the u-sound to be written with the oe-sign (this only causes problems for native Dutch speakers writing English Groote shorthand). The height of the oe-sign is twice the height of the a-sign. There is no long oe-sound in Dutch and English Groote Steno. NL: Oehoeboeroe (site), EN: move, cool, shoe, tour.


NL,EN: pink.


The r-sign has a diameter of one quarter height of the a-sign. It is drawn counter clockwise, which is the distinction with the l-sign. NL,EN: room.


The s- and z-sound. NL,EN: sire, zone, cent.


NL,EN: teen.


NL: duf, duur EN: fur, sure. There is no sign for the long u-sound, like there is for the other vowels. In Dutch the au-, ou- and eu-sound are each written with two signs, not phonetically. The same is true for the the au-sound in EN: cause and the ou-sound in words like EN: loud. The height of the sign is one quarter of the height of the a-sign.


NL,EN: warm. It is drawn counterclockwise.


The ng- and nk-sound have their own sign. NL: bang, klank, kring, EN: bank, clearing.


It seems NL: uit, EN: out has a sufficiently high frequency to grant it its own sign.


NL,EN: was. It can be used for verbs only.


NL: zijn. Not used in english, as far as I know. In Dutch only used for a verb and a possessive pronoun (Dutch: bezittelijk voornaamwoord).


NL,EN: 100. Replace 1 with other numbers as necessary. Other than 100 and 1000, there are no signs for numbers.


NL,EN: 1000. Replace 1 with other numbers as necessary.


Since vowels signs have different heights, and can be directly connected, it is easy to get confused as to which vowels are connected. To avoid this, the vowel connection sign has been invented. NL,EN: chaos.

More examples

Standaard Dicteerboek Nederlands by A.A. Schoevers (site), 1995
Reading and writing excercise book.
Reading excercise

Ons Kortschrift by Ads. van Gelderen, 1925
Shorthand teaching book for use in highshools.
How to connect r, w, l to consonants:
full page
Read the complete book!
Notice that the writing is much more slanted than in modern shorthand.

Schoevers' Leesboek in Steno Groote, 1927
Shorthand reading book with drawings.
cartoon, detail
cartoon, full page
The next page shows that Schoevers is the inventor of the Transformers (site).
stories with drawings, detail
stories with drawings, full page

Shorthand sites

The joy of Pitman shorthand
Gregg Shorthand Pitman Shorthand Speedwriting Shorthand
Pitman shorthand
Teeline shorthand
Historia de la taquigrafia (in Spanish, very elaborate)
Stenografi (in Swedish)