The first secretary

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"to better capsulate syllables and inflection, however, Tiro supplemented these latin scrawls with Greek shorthand"

pg. 7-8 His Master's Voice, Di Renzo

 

Incredbly frustrating it would be for me to have someone doing all my work for me. Cicero was lost while tiro was sick. What would he have done if Tiro had died? Scribes, or secretaries to the modern world, were highly valued back then. I bet that if you went to your 10 year high school reunion and told your ex-classmates that you were a secretary, no one would be impressed. Being able to write was highly valued because many people could not. In today's sense, buisnessmen who speak fluent chinese are highly valued because many cannot. And shorthand is not "the lowest form" of writing. I've seen shorthand and I cannot decipher it. Writing in shorthand is a special skill. To invent symbols that capture inflection as well as represent the word is amazing. Modern writing cannot do that, aside from line directions in a play. We have all read MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech, but to hear the man speak it himslef is an entirely different experience. Tiro was a genius.

 

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2 Comments

Jeremy Barrick said:

I cannot decipher shorthand either, but if we studied it, we may understand it better. I completely understand where you are coming from in your blog, but, I am a writer who has a very strong tie to writing. And yes, it must have been difficult to listen to a speech and have to copy it. That is why I feel that it is such an art form. Just as a journalist.

ChrisU said:

Yeah, the fact that Tiro's shorthand could so accurately record the fine details of Cicero's style is incredible.

Funny how the Roman elite refused to work on developing a written shorthand themselves because it was beneath them, but once Tiro's shorthand was finished the elite--even Julius Caesar--started to use it as a cipher to help them keep their secrets.

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