Self – ish Dictation

I’ve been dictating material at certain (slow) speeds into .wav files, and then doing a minute or so at difn points during the day at work, just for practice.
There is, however, a problem.
Gregg Shorthand DJS 2nd Ed manual says that a certain take is, say, 84 words long. Once I’ve transcribed it, and used the MSWord word count feature, it invariably is longer, sometimes as much as 20 percent, i.e. if the take was 84 in the manual, it can be as much as 100 for the MSWord count.
How do they count the words for the manual? I’ve tried counting syllables (3 equals a word or 2 equals a word) and I just can’t come up with the same count as the manual.
Or maybe it doesn’t really matter, and I can just use the MSWord system count to break down the takes for dictation.

(by sidhetaba for everyone)

5 comments Add yours
  1. I was pretty sure you'd know, Chuck. Thanks very much.   The key of takes would be the student transcript? I haven't really checked, but there doesn't seem to be a key at the back of the manual (2nd Edition, Canadian Edition).   Do you know why they count it that way? I remember in typing class, the teacher used to just count 12 words a line for a line width of 60 characters (on a manual typewriter, of course).   And I read somewhere that Pitman courses just count one word as one word, so "I am an amanuensis" would be 4 words.   It's quite odd, really.

  2. A "standard" word for dictation in Gregg shorthand is 1.4 syllable long. So if the take is 84 words long, it should contain approximately 118 syllables. Appearing in the key of takes, there is a little superscript number marking every 20 standard syllables. That helps you time the dictation and work the speed.

  3. "I'm sorry if I went a little too technical." No, I love the specificity of your answers!   Yes, i'm quite familiar w/ the lag — i type a lot of verbatim transcripts of interviews, usually only two people talking now, but in a previous job as many as 6 people in conference. The same lag happens, but with the wonderful foot pedal you can review. Usually, you continue typing the last bit while you are reviewing the first bit of the sentence and comparing it to the tape.   Thanks again.

  4. Yes, check the student transcript.  Sometimes they include that little number so that you can pace the dictation.  The 1.4 syllable standard for Gregg in English was established in the 30s as a means of accounting for the fact that words have different lengths.  Compare these two sentences:   "Mary had a little lamb."   versus   "Rebecca responded hesitantly after questioning."   Both sentences have five words, but it takes longer to dictate the second sentence than the first one because it has more syllables.  So, in terms of standard words, the second has more.  The first sentence has 7 syllables/1.4 = 5 standard words, while the second has 15 syllables/1.4=11 standard words.   Again, this is referring to dictation speed.  Writing speed, on the other hand, is dependent on the individual: how much of the take you can retain in your brain (carrying ability), how well you know the principles of the system (shorthand is written with the brain, not the hand), and in some cases, which version (or series) of shorthand you are using.  In theory, writing speed cannot be faster than dictation speed (unless, of course, you are psychic, ).  So when you hear someone saying that they can take 120 wpm, it means that they can take dictation at that rate with no error, and not that they write at that speed.  In fact, you can be writing slightly slower than 120 wpm, lagging behind the dictator, but writing everything because you remember what was said, and you know the principles of your system very well.  The lag between dictator and writer is inevitable, but when the dictator takes a pause, that's when you catch up.  In standard shorthand parlance though, dictation speed and writing speed are usually used interchangeably.   I'm sorry if I went a little too technical.   So, let's see: "I am an amanuensis": 5 standard words in Gregg .

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