Writing by Sound – a New Exhibition on the First Floor

Pitman ExampleWriting by Sound: Pitman’s Phonographic Shorthand charts something of the extraordinary ambition of Isaac Pitman’s attempt to create and popularise a system of writing in which the ‘very sound of every word is made VISIBLE.’ Pitman’s innovation was to develop a shorthand system with a phonetic rather than orthographic basis; a way of recording speech in which what was heard could be accurately reproduced from written signs. This exhibition showcases some of the vast pedagogical output of Pitman’s Phonetic Institution and explores some of the curiosities, preoccupations, and achievements of this distinctively nineteenth-century attempt to inscribe sound as text.

You can see this exhibition on the first floor landing of the English Faculty Building.