Don’t know who to thank

Hi everyone – someone here recently made a comment which I can’t find now, but it was about writing what you hear, i.e. writing phonetically. Some reference was made to a kind of ease and smoothness between ear and hand that this achieves.  It didn’t sink in fully until:
1. Last night I was remembering grammar school in the 1950’s when phonics was in vogue, and when one of us kids encountered a new word to spell or read, the teacher would say “Sound it out.” Even with the exceptions of English spelling this worked quite well, much better than rote memorization.
2. I found a blog by a woman stenotypist who was regretting problems caused by the new transcription software attached to the stenotype machine.  She said that it used to be so comfortable to just listen and type what you heard phonetically, to her, this being the heart of stenography.  Now, though, the software only recognizes prearranged letter patterns such that if they don’t agree with the typist’s idea of how to spell something, the transcription function fails.  Thus, an undesirable kind of memorization is now needed to satisfy the transcription software.
With this in mind, I realized that I had fallen too much into a memorization mode, trying to anticipate all the words that might come up, practicing to be able to “spell” them in Gregg, and feeling overwhelmed because this could easily be thousands of words.
I started over with my practicing, aiming to put myself into the hear-and-write mode, and I think I really do feel a coherence and ease that was lacking. Any unfamiliar word is just another sound pattern, and while there are several tens of thousands of words used in everyday life, there may only be a hundred or so distinct sound patterns. Given a choice, I’d think one would feel much more prepared for anything that comes along using this approach.
Just think, too: Gregg is far more phonetically clear than English spelling, so if phonics works pretty well in English, it sure works very well with Gregg, even when we, as we do, write it without using the available diacriticals in Anniversary.

(by ukulele144 for everyone)

5 comments Add yours
  1. Hi JRGAnniversary – I was almost certain that it was you who made the salient comment, so glad to know that for sure. Thanks!  I know you found my sarcasm irritating; I just have to be more careful of being too much of a stickler.  I really hadn't thought it all through, and I still have to say it can be very frustrating.  I can keep up fairly comfortably with 100-110 wpm, but as you can imagine, hoping to double that is daunting.   When I decided to take this approach of hearing/writing, I picked up a handy nearby mystery novel and started writing it out in Gregg.  I go ahead and spell a good many words out, knowing that they need to be abbreviated, so I just circle them and come back later.  I figure that cultivating the hearing-and-writing approach should come first right now. Then, too, the abbreviations are mostly natural or logical, so I do that some, too, even though I'll later find a better one in Anniversary that I didn't think of myself.   I listen to the radio a good bit, and I must say everyone there seems to be talking at 200 wpm or more; I guess they are all schooled in the "time is money" ethos.   Anyway, so glad to find out for certain that it was you who made that comment that turned out to be very helpful to me once I digested it for a few days.

  2. Just to clarify a tiny bit… there are some stenotype theories that do require strange half-phonetic/spelling memorization, like the "ir" sound of "curse/hearse/first" needing to be spelled differently to match the spelling, but with the most popular theory now (Phoenix), it's nearly 100% phonetic, with homonyms being distinguished by a * attached to the less common of the pair (heard/herd, seer/sere, mote/moat etc). This does basically force you to trail the speaker, however.
    I haven't actually started classes yet (tomorrow), so I'm not sure how common trios like two/to/too, there/their/they're are distinguished yet, but I can let anyone who's curious know once I learn 🙂

    The average speaking speed does seem around 200wpm where I live (West Coast) when reading prepared text at a comfortable speed… I've timed myself and others with one word being 1.4 syllables. I imagine it's a bit lower (160-180wpm) at a comfortable conversation speed.

    Definitely one of the biggest blocks for stenographers of any kind is in writing unfamiliar words… That's why practicing literature is such a good idea. I find a good deal of words I don't know in Lovecraft and Stoker, so when I actually do come across words I know but haven't ever had to write (most common stumbling block), it's not nearly as stressful as it would've been before I started doing literary practice. Believe me, after "frores", "psychopomps" and "coruscations", a little "deliberate" isn't going to be hard at all!

  3. Lovecraft.

    My husband, born in 1964, read all that old stuff. In 1986 he graduated university and started looking for work as a programmer. One of the biggest insurance companies routinely gave all applicants an English test created in the 1950's. Thanks to his reading, he did much better than most of his contemporaries. (He's also glad he didn't get the job; he prefers working for small companies.)


  4. What is a "frore"? a "psychopomp"? a "coruscation"?  What fun!  Coincidentally, I've been putting into shorthand a novel I've been reading just for the heck of it.  It is a good way to "hear" the words that you are writing in shorthand, indeed.  It's also not quite as dry as copying the business letters from my DJS books, so it's a fun "break" for me.   I'm, err, a little embarrassed about the novel I'm reading & putting bits of into DJS shorthand…it's called The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn.  It's not quite a "bodice-ripper", but I do feel a little silly.  Hee-hee…    

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