Karl Friedrich Scheithauer

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Karl Friedrich Scheithauer (born September 21, 1873 in Xions near Ostrowo , Province of Posen , † January 12, 1962 in Leipzig ) was a German shorthand inventor , stenographer and writer .


Karl Friedrich Scheithauer first attended the grammar school in Ostrowo , where he learned in 1886 from his teacher Kòthlinski his adaptation of the German stenography system - Proud to the Polish language . In 1891 Scheithauer moved to Berlin to work as a stenographer in Ferdinand Schrey's typewriter business Schrey & Sporken . In 1894 he left this business.

In later years Scheithauer lived with his family in Leipzig , where he ran his small shorthand publishing house at Burgauenstraße (now Nathanaelgasse) 6, Leipzig-Lindenau, on the 4th floor. From there he also conducted his many negotiations with the political authorities of the Third Reich and later the GDR . The GDR authorities granted the completely impoverished man, who had been forbidden to publish for many years, an “honorary pension” of 200 Ostmarks.

Scheithauer died on January 12, 1962 in an old people's home in Leipzig. He is buried in the Lindenauer Friedhof, Merseburger Strasse, where his mother, wife and daughter Gertrud are also buried. The tombstone is adorned with his trademark, the shorthand head , also called "Scheithauer's face" (see below Ehm Welk) and is now a listed building thanks to the efforts of the stenographic collections in Dresden. His writings, drafts and other memorabilia can also be found there, as well as a portrait from 1942.

In addition to his shorthand work, Scheithauer was a translator for 12 European languages, all of which he had learned himself. Under the pseudonym Callistophanes von Thebes , he published numerous poems , bank songs and novels .

Work in the shorthand field

Karl Scheithauer was a stenographer for the Reichstag in his younger years, as was his son Richard (born February 10, 1898). They used an express type for shorthand, which, like longhand, abbreviated words, but had no “abbreviations”. This express typeface was also legible for everyone, even if the reader could not write it himself.

After Scheithauer started working as a stenographer in Ferdinand Schrey's typewriter business in 1891 , he was there with the ideas of Karl Faulmann , among other things , to create a shorthand as a “general means of communication and means of communication for the whole people”, in order to finally use the usual script replace, known and became a supporter of this school.

In September 1891 Scheithauer presented a draft of a literal, "for everyone readable" shorthand. Since this draft was not very well received, he tried in 1893 with a textbook based on the system of Ferdinand Schrey . More successful than Scheithauer's design from 1893 was his textbook folk stenography based on the principles of Gabelsberger , Stolze and Faulmann . It was a slight reform of the Schrey system. Scheithauer resorted to Gabelsberger's italic characters, the lack of pressure in certain smears, as in Arends, and the independence of lines and abbreviations in Faulmann. On September 12, 1896, he published his first textbook of his own system with the title System der Stenographie as a further development of the 1891 draft . Set up according to graphological experience . As early as 1899, Friedrich Diehm expanded this Scheithauer written form in his publication Deutsche Stenographie (Scheithauer System) - Debattenschrift - Winke and Examples for further training in the abbreviation system into a speech script for transcribing speeches at high speeds.

In 1913 Scheithauer published the Alphabetical Stenography Scheithauer 1913 . Scheithauer had made changes to 14 characters compared to the previous version from 1896. However, this written version also consists of 31 consonant symbols (smears) and 11 vowel symbols (eu and äu are the same; smears for the vowels). It works according to Scheithauer's advertising slogan “with 42 characters without thick and thin and without a sigel” (ie abbreviations, so very short characters for common words). Scheithauer submitted the written form from 1913 to the Committee of 23 for the unification negotiations to create a German unified shorthand.

Scheithauer's script is kept simple and easy to read for unfamiliar readers because it is independent of the line. It can be written with carbon copy, so that a copy of a document can be obtained, which is not possible with characters which also differ by printing. The vowels are not, such as E.g. in Franz Xaver Gabelsberger, Ferdinand Schrey or Wilhelm Stolze indicated by the following consonance, but written consistently as a separate, unchangeable vowel mark (rigid line vocalization). The 11 vocal signs are represented by two straight flat bars, five straight bars and four curved bars. According to Scheithauer and his followers, further simplifications compared to other shorthands are the lack of linguistic structure of words, no line dependency (as with Karl Faulmann) and the very simple set of rules consisting of only a few rules, which all together make it very easy to learn .

His script was developed for many languages, including English , French , Dutch , Italian , Portuguese and Spanish . There are also arrangements for ancient Greek , Latin and Esperanto . As early as 1887, Scheithauer wrote an adaptation of the Stolze system to the planned language Volapük . Russian shorthand is based on Scheithauer's handwriting.

Scheithauer's textbook was published for the last time in its 20th edition in 1946 under the title Stenographische Fibel .

The Scheithauer system received literary recognition under the name "Stenography System" by "Karl Holzhauer in Dresden ". In the novel Die Heiden von Kummerow , first published in 1937, the writer Ehm Welk lets his heroes become stenographers of this system; there are examples of script and also the "Scheithauer face", in the novel "the face that speaks" . This symbol appeared as an advertising medium on Scheithauer's textbooks as early as the turn of the century. It consists of a number of characters and words formed from them.

Other systems based on Scheithauer

Karl Scheithauer's simple and easy-to-learn script lives on in the publications of numerous successors who carried Scheithauer's ideas to the present day. Ferdinand Schrey adopted Scheithauer's system from 1913 almost unchanged and published it in 1928 under the name Volksverkehrskurzschrift (VVK). Rector Karl Otto from Gladbeck published Simple Stenography (ES) in 1959, also based on Scheithauer, but with mostly different consonant characters and 70 abbreviations. In the following years, Otto and the teacher Gundolf Alliger from Gelnhausen , who was now also the publisher, published various system revisions of simple shorthand . From 1975 to 1978 Gundolf Alliger published as the sole author further own variants of the ES (e.g. alligraphy ). The press and negotiation stenographer Peter Spiegel published his universal shorthand (UKS) in 1966 . In 1977, Dr. Jürgen Dobermann from Berlin the European shorthand , which, apart from a few changes and 6 abbreviations, is a copy of the Scheithauer script.

Publications (excerpts)

  • 42 characters without “thick and thin” and without “Sigel” ... For school and self-teaching, Leipzig 1935
  • Alphabetical shorthand Scheithauer 1913, Leipzig 1913
  • German folk stenography, 1892
  • The Stolze-Schrey shorthand - a work of stupidity, Leipzig 1915
  • Handbook of the abbreviation of fonts, Leipzig 1929, 2nd edition
  • Stenography for All, Nuremberg 1946, 20th edition
  • Stenographic primer, Leipzig 1933, 17th edition
  • System of shorthand. Prepared according to graphological experience, 1896
  • System of stenography, Leipzig 1900, 6th edition
  • Abbreviation system, Leipzig 1903, 3rd edition
  • On the question of stenographic unity, Leipzig-Thonberg 1913


  • Brodthagen, Ernst: German unity shorthand. Examination book shorthand 2. History of German shorthand and general shorthand theory in question and answer, Rinteln 1988
  • Gessner, Ingrid: In memoriam Karl Friedrich Scheithauer, in: KMI. Office management - teaching and practice 1/1992, pp. 13–16
  • Kaden, Walter: New history of shorthand. From the creation of writing to contemporary shorthand, Dresden 1999
  • Mentz, Arthur, among others: History of the shorthand, Wolfenbüttel 1981, 3rd edition
  • Moser, Franz, among others: Living shorthand story. A guide through the theory of shorthand and shorthand history, Darmstadt 1990, 9th edition
  • Schneider / Blauert: History of the German shorthand. Expanded in October 2006 by Dr. Eva Scheithauer-Waldron, granddaughter of Karl F. Scheithauer

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Christian Johnen: General history of shorthand. Berlin: Apitz, 1940. p. 166.