In the “Speed Records – Pitman vs.  Gregg thread I spoke of having trouble with uniform stroke lengths now that I’m trying to get faster.
What I thought justified a new thread is that I’m actually probably having more trouble with connections.  Familiar connections flow quite smoothly, but a word that is even ordinary and familiar in handwriting can really catch you off guard with the
Gregg alphabet.
It seems to be mostly because of the choice between comma and left S or over and under TH, sometimes, too, with how to place O and OO.
“Whistle” is easy to write: OO-E-S-T-L, but “whisper” is a real challenge to me: OO-E-S and then the S seems to get lost in the P.  You have to use comma S, but I get a messy curve from that into the P.
The upshot of it to me is that instead of practicing  new words open-endedly, I wish I had a list of “different kinds of connections in Gregg.”  I guess I should just make up one myself, but I haven’t gotten very good yet at anticipating what Gregg connections are going to come up with different words. As I said, it’s not letter combinations per se, but the two choices in each case with S and TH.  I decided that this is part of the reason I was getting my stroke lengths messed up – probably because of making the S’s and TH’s too big for clarity’s sake and then having them look like P’s and F’s or even like the NT or TN, TM blend. Isn’t that wild?!

(by ukulele144 for everyone)

40 comments Add yours
  1. Hi, ukelele, The choice of comma or left "s" is a real speed deterrer for me too. With words that start with "sp-" or "exp-" etc. I can automatically use the "left s", but otherwise I have to stop and think if there is something along the way that warrants use of the "left s".  Because I cannot yet trust my reflexes; I'd hear "ex-" and "p" and my brain would go "Ping!  P, so left s!", but after starting out with the "left s" I may realize there's something between the s and p, so I have to spell it out in my head first.  (Like "except" is left, but "exempt" is comma.) And my frustration is that I still don't get why you have to use two different "s"s! For example, for "downs" I suppose you would write "d-n-left s", but for "downstairs" you use the "comma s".  I explained to myself that that was probably because "downstairs" is broken down into "down+stairs", and the "s" is part of the latter part, so you use the "comma s" to precede the "t".
    But still, that word shows that there is no problem with using "comma s" after "n".  Also, you write "upstairs" using a "comma s" after the "p".  So, there's no problem with using "comma s" after "p" either; you just have to hook a little like you do between k-l or g-r. Also, I see no problem with using the "comma s" in words like, say, "slow".  It would just be "flow" with an "s" half the size of the "f".  I think it might even be _faster_ to use the "comma s" since you could write it as two strokes, whereas with the "left s" it is three. So, why bother use the "left s" at all?? 
    To be really extreme, why not use the "comma s" for "s", and the "left s" for "x"?  (I have become comfortable with using "left s" at the end or words, but they look like "x" anyway…) Though, the answer may be "you'll know once you are profficient", and I'm a stickler for rules, so I'm going by the book for now… But at the point where I am now, even the rules seem inconsistant and confusing; like you write "circle" with a comma s and "circuit" with a left… Do excuse me if this is a little off from what you were talking about.  Martha

  2. As far as the difference between circle and circuit:  They are different principles in play.  Circle (s-e-k-l) is an instance of dropping the "r" in certain words:  firm, surprise, etc.  Circuit uses the left "s" because it is a disjoined word beginning (if you are writing Anniversary and before).  If you write circuit "s-e-r-k" that's a brief form and it writes the "r" so you would start out in the same direction as the "r" because the e circle, the s and the r are all written in the same direction.    Upstairs is written with a right s because your next stroke is a "t".  Writing "slow" with a right s causes you to have to stop, also, it's contrary to theory — anything that will stop the hand moving is a deterent to speed.  It's the same number of strokes with a pause at the beggining to make the transition from right s to the l.    There is a need for the s going in two directions.  The more you advance, the more you will see the sense of writing according to the theory. 

  3. Hi, Martha – What you said is not off from what I'm talking -and fretting – about at all. The  things you mentioned are exactly what I stumble upon often.   If you want something even worse – and it makes me look like such a rank beginner, which I'm really not – I am perfectly capable of confusing the two S's with P and F, and the two TH's with NT, etc.!   This comes up in my attempts at reading back, but to partly justify myself, I still don't read back even well-written shorthand in the textbooks very well. I think the best writers are inconsistent in stroke length. Even in the Simplified Manual, I have to look back and forth to get the context to figure out what some outlines are. I believe that this is just a price we pay for shorthand and learn to work with.  It is for two reasons in my opinion: abbreviation loses many of the cues we're used  to in written English, and phonetic spelling also loses such cues. In "please" the "s" sounds like a "z" but in "cease" it sounds like an "s", but we are familiar with spelling and recognize such things by sight, not by sound. The shorthand P-L-E (or I)-S  and S-E(or I)-S just don't look familiar. To top it off, if you write the E/I just a little too big it could be an A, and don't think I don't do that all the time, too!  

  4. Perfection in shorthand is achieved by reading well written shorthand and practice.  We all stumble when we are learning, but that tells us that the theory has not been learned well.  That's the time to go and hit the book.  It is not a fault of the system, it is a fault of the student, in my opinion.   Different writers of shorthand have different styles and length of strokes, but you should be able to read, nevertheless.  Writers that keep a constant sense of proportion are the best to emulate: Winifred Kenna Richmond, Astrid Ramsey, and Florence Ulrich were probably the best writers.  Their penmanship is impeccable.   It is not expected that students will know the theory well after the first book — but it is expected that it is good enough to continue the study of shorthand.  Hence, it is no surprise that books that follow the basic manuals contain review and expansion practice on the principles that have already been learned.  That is done to reinforce the principles and make stumbling incidents less and less common.  Eventually you will write automatically and not worry about whether you use the comma s or the left s, because you will know which one will be.  Also, you have learned to accept some things by faith.   Moreover, only after the theory has been learned well, is when one learns shortcuts for high/reporting speeds, because a lot of those are based on theory.   One thing I criticize about the books in latter series is the lack of emphasis on good penmanship. Most of these problems about which letter to use could also be related to penmanship issues, because you will notice that the word just "doesn't look right".   Practice makes perfect, and shorthand is no exception.   (Incidentally, the comma s never blends with l or r.  If you write the comma s blended with the l for the word "slow", in fast writing it may read "small".)

  5. RE: Size of strokes.   Hi, Ukelele,   Stroke size is something I had chosen not to think about much, hoping it'd come naturally to me with time, but it hasn't yet after 8 months, so I'm starting to consider if I need to make an effort round about this time to conquer it once and for all?   For the first month or so (I started studying Simplified at the start of this year), "is(comma s)", "there (under th)", "and (n-t blend)", "for (f)", "have (v)" and even "are (r)" used to look pretty much the same…  Something like "And there are…" would be three wobbly underneath curves that looked identical and I would have no idea what I'd written if it weren't in context.
    Not to mention sh, ch, j, t, d, and even ded…
    And ah yes, "cannot" and "come" and "gone" were identical too…   Since then I have experimented with degrees of slanting, stressing the start of the stroke etc., and I think I'm a teeny bit better. For some reason, I no longer have a problem with k/g or r/l.  I just make the former (respectively) very short, and the latter very long.  But why I can't do that with f/v and p/b I do not know!
    Differenciating f and v is not as bad, possibly because if I intend to write v and it ends up like f, I can cheat and elongate it a bit. 
    But with b, after you have made the slightly hooked curve at the end, there's no changing it.  All my b's look like p's.  I keep telling myself I have to start higher up from the line, but my hand or brain or whoever's responsible will not listen.  I hate my b's.   As for the "e/i" and "a" circle!  A thorn in my side I have been trying to ignore; all my circles look identical.  So much so that I have become very good at considering a circle to be "a major vowel" and deciphering from context.  But that is not something to boast of is it; I just need to make my e/i circles very small and my a circles very big, how hard could that be?  Practice!!   And as for the visual and phonetic aspect of the English word, I can only agree.  Gregg strokes are only starting to look like words for me, and even then only words that recur often and I am thus familiar with.  The others, I have to spell them out, at least half way, before I can understand it as a word.   But you know, thinking about that made me remember; in the early days, I had a real hard time accepting the way "talk" was written, as "t-o-k".  Yes, that is how it is pronounced come to think of it, and I possibly spelled it like that as a little kiddie, but it just didn't feel right.  But now, it is one of the words that for me _look_ like a word; I have no hesitation reading or writing it.   So, I don't really know, but maybe it'd be better to forget the longhand alphabet and how words look, and tackle Gregg as if we were a new language??  At least it'd be just the spelling we need to learn, and not the grammar!  

  6. RE: The comma and left s.   Hi, AnniversaryFan,   >> There is a need for the s going in two directions.  The more you advance, the more you will see the sense of writing according to the theory.    Such reassurance from a master of the skill is comforting, thank you, it's probably what I needed to hear.   I forgot to mention, but I'm studying with Simplified 2nd edition, so I think for me "circuit" is spelled out in full, and "circle" is a brief form.   The thing is, around half way through the book, I thought I was starting to get over my dislike of the left s; "cir-" or "cer-" or "ser-" came out automatically as "left s-e-r", and I was spelling out "circle" in full in that way, quite confident that there could be no other way to spell it.  But then, at the end of the book, in the very last batch of brief forms, there it was, "circle" as a brief form, using the comma s and omitting the r.  It was upsetting, because I couldn't understand why it had to be that way in this one instance.  And with that, all my past grievances and doubts about the left s came back to haunt me.    Though now I think I see; possibly an old Anniversary rule leaving it's marks on "circle" as a brief form??  (Because in Simplified, "firm" and "surprised" are spelled out in full… I think.)  If so, that eases my mind greatly.  And I will no longer doubt, but practice!   Hi, Chuck,   >> If you write the comma s blended with the l for the word "slow", in fast writing it may read "small".   Oh thank you, I see now!!  The left s would be a hint that the following was an "l", plus it would ensure that at least the start of the "l" stroke would be curved?  How neat!   Possibly because the only shorthand I have ever laid eyes on are mainly the carefully formed strokes in my book, and I have never yet put myself in a situation where I have to put speed ahead of clarity, it didn't occur to me to think about what might happen if one were writing real fast.  (At my leisurely pace, an "l" might turn out like an "r" but never like an "m".)   The s issue was possibly the last of the "rules" that was bugging me; with the others, after a period of practice and reasoning (to myself, as to why that rule had to be), it eventually made sense, even if it didn't at first.  It was this left s that kept testing my faith in the Gregg system, but now I think I may be able to simply accept.  I'll just memorize every word with s in it that comes my way if I have to until I see the light! 
    Thank you all!!

  7. Hey, Martha!   In your discussion of "circuit" and "circle" it occurred to me as I reviewed the different versions of Gregg (I have everything from the 1901 Manual through to Series 90), I would find that with each revision, certain things that carried over from a prior version were presented differently — with the same outline — in the newer edition.  "Circle" in Simplified was a reach back to Anniversary.  There's a principle about omitting "r" after "e" (firm, confirm, circle, surprise, search, etc.).    The outline for "circle" is rather graceful.  I have a growing suspicion that as things progressed in Gregg Shorthand's evolution, the authors probably had outline forms that they favored and "made it up as they went along."  It's truly a testament to the genius of the system that the basic forms have remained unchanged, but that as needs changed, the system was revised to meet what the market would bear in a very quickly changing and ever accelerating world.   Perhaps it would help you to remember the uses of left "s" if you think of writing the whole outline in the prevalent direction, usually an oval circle being written counter-clockwise.  Left "s", p, and b are just differently sized sides of that continuous circle.  Soon you will form the left "s"-p combination without hesitation.  You should always try to move in the dominant direction of the outline elements.  "Public" is a larger example of the left "s"-"p" combination.  Make it "public's" and it might get your mind fixed on the writing direction and make it feel a bit more natural to you.  That and practice on the things that make you pause will be time well spent.    Peter

  8. Don't want to question the integrity of Gregg theory, but the omission of R in some words is more a matter of dialect than of shorthand theory, also of dialect in relation to history.   In SOCIOLINGUISTICS William Labov introduces a study for which he is famous concerning the pronunciation of R or the lack thereof in New York City. He looked at three social levels by studying store clerks at three NYC department stores which could be ranked by socioeconomic level.  The omission of R was most prominent at the lower levels, diminishing upward, and also diminishing as any speaker took extra care in pronunciation.   Labov determined this by asking a clerk, "Where is the linen department?"  The clerk would say "Fo'th floo'", and he would say "Pardon me?" and the higher socioeconomic levels would repeat with more emphasis and say "FouRth FlooR". It was just that the higher levels reflected a more educated correction of an older form of pronunciation.   Also, it is little known that all the cities on the East Coast, not only the Southern ones, during the 19th century participated in this omission of R. It was more educated classes, as time passed, who "corrected" this R omission.   Gregg himself and most of his followers never pronounced R anyway in most words, and it seemed like a silent letter to them, easily dispensed with. Conversely, R is pronounced in some words and not others: in the dialects in question, R is not pronounced in "father" or "clerk" but is pronounced in "through", "prison", "try", i.e. silent in medial and final positions but not in initial positions.

  9. Pragraph 165 in the Anniversary Manual states:  R Ommitted.  In many words containing ar, er, or, ir, the r is omitted.  I've always found that the omission of the "r" is pretty natural in writing and I automatically put it in when reading.  I think you are ascribing motives to Dr. Gregg and his ilk that aren't necessarily there.  The omission of the "r" is a way of shortening the outline without making it unreadable.  The "r" isn't silent in large, march, ascertain, circle, confirm, learned, etc.  I come from the Boston area originally, and, yes, we did pahk our cahs all over the place.  However, we also had "idears" — I doubt anyone wrote "i-d-e-r". 

  10. Hullo Peter,   Many thanks for your kind and invaluable advice.   Now that I know why it's written that way (and can thus accept it), yes I do see how the brief form (in Simplified) for "circle" is more graceful; written out in full, you'd have to curve down and then up and then down again, which is quite awkward.    Your advice about the direction of the outline as a whole was enlightening; I realize I have been focusing too much on individual strokes, and the joining of one with the next.   And now, what had felt like a multitude of possible s-related joinings has for me boiled down into three categories:
    1. Brief forms; do not question, simply memorize.
    2. Follow the direction in which the word flows as a whole.
    3. If the direction is different before and after the s, consider which part the s belongs to more.
    (I am a bit unsure about the last, but I browsed through the words in my dictionary starting with "dis", and that seemed to make sense…)   And incidentally, you have sparked in me an interest in Anniversary.
    I see now why quite a number of members here consider switching, or actually do.
    I don't think I'm at all ready for that, but in the future, who knows!   With gratitude,

  11. I'm sure I read somewhere that the omission of R is based on phonetics rather than simple abbreviation.  If we can say pahk and understand park, lahj and understand large (which in my dialect – UK northern english – has no R sound in it) then the theory goes that you can simplify the phonetics in speech also.  So I'm with ukelele in believing that the omission of R was inspired by rhotic (pronouncing Rs) vs non-rhotic (not pronouncing Rs).   In all the words you list, Anny, I really don't hear an r in them in my 'native' dialect, although I know they're there because of spelling.  I guess the thought is that, if one can understand the word in speech without the R being pronounced, one should be able to understand it in writing.  Interestingly, other systems take this further, and write stah for star etc.   Ian

  12. Although many of us have dialects that soften or omit our "r's", a larger percentage of the population does, in fact, ennunciate the consonant although it may not be emphasized.  Now that I'm on the west coast, I have brought the "r" back into my pronunciation.  Dr. Gregg was Irish and spent time in Scottland so he had a good understanding of regional shifts in pronunciation.    At Paragraph 165 the manual states:  "In many words containing, ar, er, or, ir, as in the words large, serve, warm, sort, firm, circle, corner, the r is omitted.   "In applying this principle advantage is simply taken of dropping a sound that ordinarily is not stressed in speaking."   In later editions, they wrote more out and the suggestions of "r" were replaced by actually written "r's".  One thing to keep in mind is that the whole point of shorthand was and is to get it written down with as few strokes as possible.  When writing at rapid speed, it can simplify the outline if you don't have to make that curve.  🙂   Peter

  13. Aha, I have found it as last; there IS a rule for omission of R in Simplified also.
    I'd had a nagging memory of thinking that writing "turn" the same as "ten" might be confusing.   It's #296, "Omission of R", but limited compared to Anniversary; "The r is omitted in tern, term; dern, derm; thern, therm."
    I wonder why they chose to leave in just those six.  (Well, and "ort" in #297.)   Having grown up in Australia, I don't pronounce the r's in the middle of a word, but I think there are two cases, where the r is ignored completely, and where it is not pronounced as r but has a function in indicating that the preceding vowel is long.   The former from the examples in the manual would be pattern, eastern, modern, northern (the r after o is spelled out by the way), southern, and thermometer.   The latter (also from the manual) would be turn/turned, term/termed, terminate, determine.   I have absolutely no problem with omitting r in the former words since I don't pronounce them at all, but the latter ones, weeell, as I said "turn" is like "ten", and "terminate (t-e-mm-a-t)" looks suspiciously like "teammate".   If they were going to change it from the Anniversary rule, wouldn't it have been simpler if it had been "omit r if it does not contribute to clarity" or something?
    Or maybe that's just me; for "eastern" I say "eesten", but maybe Americans pronounce it with a slight r in it so it would be difficult to judge words individually.   Er, not really a question or anything… just a thought.   Martha

  14. I spent a lot of time on shorthand over part of the holiday, and not much at all for the other part. I used the Anni manual, Fundamental Drills, and 5000 words. I also picked up Dictation Simplified (3rd book in an order is practically pennies), and read Dupraw's stuff at the end.

    Reading well-written shorthand does make a difference. Those shapes now look like words, and I've got a better feel for what is "right". Dupraw's stuff was an eye-opener; it doesn't look at all like the models, but it's legible; he knows when he can change a form without it turning into something unintended; highly recommended, as I'm now more relaxed about some of my forms.

    Re-reading my own shorthand helps me see penmanship problems, but doesn't really help me see words rather than squiggles.

    I also changed paper size. I had been using regular lined, 7mm. B would be just over the entire line. I had lots of troubles with proportion. I now have a proper shorthand book, 1/3inch spacing. I write larger and the proportions of most vertical shapes is much better. (Still gotta work on circles and horizontals in words.)

    The 5000 words is a lot of fun. The index shows which 500 a word is in; some of the top 500 words back then are rather rare now!


  15. Hi Cricket, I wondered if this should be on your Anni vs Simplified thread, but the talk there was getting pretty technical, so I'm posting here.   I just wanted to ask, is reading Simplified material while studying Anniversary giving you any conflicting problems?   After whining about Simplified on this thread for a while, I gave myself a good slap in the face and decided to go check out Anniversay for myself. The list of brief forms was enticing; if I could memorize them all, I could see how that would be way faster than Simplified.   And the rules too (including the inverted circle thing)… I was tempted to switch then and there, but after the excitement had cooled down a bit, I started to weigh the pros and cons. Anniversary is probably a faster and more efficient system once mastered.  But, I am at this point where I have become rather comfortable with Simplified; I still consult my dictionary often, but my "guesses" turn out to be correct about 9 times out of 10.  I can read back what I wrote.  Do I want to forfeit that to learn a new system?   I understand that you have a DJS background, what inspired you to switch to Anniversary? Do you think it would be easier to switch after completely mastering (if that is possible… ) the present system one's working with?   Oh, and I tried reading out loud by the way, and recording it too!  Thought I might try taking dictation while listening to the recording.  It's very slow with my multitude of  stumbles, so perfect for slow pace dictation practice!?    Though, going back to the start of the book made me realize how much I have progressed; I also recommended it as a nice ego booster.   Martha    

  16. Martha,   The woman who I talked about in one of the threads (my primary trainer at the courts) was a Simplified writer.  I was doing 140 and she was miles ahead of me.  Simplified is a very respectable version of Gregg Shorthand.  I began to study Anniversary because my advanced shorthand teacher was an Anniversary writer and I, too, was drawn in by the number of brief forms (I was learning Series 90 in school).  If you are comfortable with the version you write, embrace it.  You can achieve great speed.  The 1916 Manual and the Anniversary Edition launched quite a few verbatim reporters, but you can still manage to be remarkably fast with diligent practice and the complete mastery of the brief forms.    You GO, Girl!!   Peter

  17. Anni has the most online reading material and manuals (thanks to Andrew's site).

    I never did get fast at DJS. I just copied out all the words and paragraphs, sometimes writing as I read for the first time. So the best I can claim is "somewhat familiar". Switching won't be too much of a problem.

    Reading Dupray's Simplified was fairly easy, once I got used to the handwriting. Anni is right about the order they introduce the sounds gives you a lot of words fast, and most of the rest was close enough to DJS that I could go by individual shapes. I found it easier to read than the DJS book, but maybe that's because I've been reading more Gregg overall.

    Other than that, I suspect I chose it because I tend to go for the hardest form of anything.


  18.  Peter, thank you, once again!  For the encouragement, and for allaying my silly doubts.   I am now happlily reconciled with Simplified; yes I am comfortable with it, so I'm going to stick with it.    As for speed, at least at this point, I see more depends on how much I practice rather than the system I use. 140 is way too ambitious for me, obviously, but I'm aiming at a modest 60 by the end of this year.   Yesterday, I took a couple hours to copy the words from my dictionary that started with "dis-".  Which may sound silly, but was actually interesting noting the way the comma and left s were used apart. I reapeated a couple times the words I "guessed right", and a full two lines for those I got wrong the first time.  I think I now get what you said about the general direction of the strokes as a whole.   And I simply enjoyed grasping the flow of the strokes the more I repeated them!   Oh dear, I'm veering from the point again, but thanks, and I hope to post a "progress report" some time soon!   With reverance,   Martha   

  19. Hi, Cricket, thanks for your response.   As I mentioned  in a previous post of mine, I've decided to stick with Simplified for now, but the stock of reading material with Anni is enviting as you say, maybe I will tackle it some day, hoping Simplified and Anniversary are something close like Dutch and Flemish?    I was kinda hoping I might be a study buddy of yours if I switched to Anni, but I'm not, so I can't, but I hope we can both achieve our goals.   >> I tend to go for the hardest form of anything. Well, good for you!!  I can hardly say that for myself; I like to take it easy… May we both be able to upkeep our motivaton! Martha

  20. Martha,

    No reason all three of us can't be study-buddies. You'll have a different number of chapters, that's all. We could use something like "x% of chapters" when sharing progress. We should start a new thread for it, so we can get excited about our baby-steps without boring the others. (Can't do anything requiring concentration until the kids are back in school on Tuesday.)

    From all I've seen, the difference is more like modern English and Shakespeare. (Maybe less; you don't know you aren't getting his triple puns.)

    I pester the experts every time I see a possible exception, and *most* of the time, if it makes sense in context, then you've got read it right.)

    Somewhere on this site there's a list of the 5000 most common words by Anni spelling, and the folks here are helpful. Brief forms are always the first or strongest letter(s) in a word.


  21. Hey, Martha —   I would imagine that by the time you finish the theory, you will be writing faster than 60.  I'd bet that you could do 80 without too much difficulty.  Don't doubt your ability.  You won't be able to do anything if you convince yourself that you can't.    One thing to be careful about is drawing your outlines rather than writing them.  You need to be able to write the outline.  If you are drawing them, you will not gain speed.  A quick, compact execution of the outline will do the trick.  When I started, I drew.  Having some dictation that's 10 or so words faster than what you can write comfortably will help break the habit if you did what I did.  🙂  I also would work at writing the outlines as fast as could and then pull back so that the outline would actually be readable.    Read, read, read.  🙂   Best wishes!   Peter

  22. Hullo, Peter,   I *think*I get what you mean by drawing, I was probably doing it for quite a while; thinking carefully about the shape of each stroke as I was forming it, and the thickness of the ink would be uneven, and it was obvious where I had paused, and the general impression was rickety.   But then one day I felt my pen flowing.  I wasn't trying to write faster or anything, but was simply surprised that it suddenly felt "easier".  I realized I wasn't being as careful about my strokes, and ironically they looked neater that way. Like I'd had so much trouble trying to write (or draw, as it was the time I guess…) "late" with the end of the "l" and the "t" in a nice straight line on both sides of the loop, but I just couldn't; it would look like "l-a-under th", or even "l-a-o-t". 
    But now, I had no problem at all.  Though I don't know if I got over it because I stopped being too careful, or I didn't need to be as careful since I had gotten over it… (Er, if this isn't what you meant, sorry for blabbing on…)   I don't actually know how fast I am right now; the slowest material I could find on hand were some ESL CDs, and they were still like 100, way too fast for me; my mind just went blank and my hand froze.   I then thought to write out the Australian national anthem as fast as I could and time it; chose it just because it was something I knew by heart, it's short, and contains some words that I don't usually use.  It's 55 words in all, and the first time it took me 1 minute 52 seconds, of which about 20 was possibly spent on figuring out the three "Australia(ns)"s in it.
    I was disappointed that my longhand was actually a few seconds faster!  But that was non-stop writing, whereas with Gregg it included the pauses where I stopped to think, so Gregg was easier on the hand, I decided to be happy with that.  And with "Australia" mastered, I made a little over a minute on the third try. I know that's not the same as taking dictation, there isn't the surprise element of hearing something for the first time, but well, judging from my first round, I'm somewhere round 25 to 30 maybe??   I seem to remember seeing a thread about dictation material and software when I first joined here; at the time I wasn't interested in speed, but I think I'll go check it out.   And read, yes I will.  I have downloaded and printed out Alice in Wonderland. 
    Though maybe I better finish the manual first, I skipped some of the material towards the end.
    Ah, so much to do, but aiming for 80!
    Thanks as always for the motivation.   Martha 

  23. The Austrailian Natinal Anthem?  I love it.   One thing that you should do before you do that kind of thing is review it and preview it.  Look up the words you don't know, figure out some of the phrasing,   During your theory learning, you shouldn't have to deal with completely new matter.  🙂  Even Dr. Gregg cautioned against giving new matter to elementary students.  Part of this process is gaining the confidence to think you can write.  Write it out once, read it a few times, and then do it again.    If you have it memorized, you can use that as your warm up piece.  In the books they usually use part of the Gettysburg Address.  It is suggested that you first write the selection evenly and comfortably at a speed that allows you to write good notes.  Then go through it really fast, as fast as you can go without losing complete control of the outlines.  Then, bring it back and write it at a speed that will allow you to make good notes.    At this point, repetition practice is better for you than trying for new matter.  I'm also scouring the web for dictation resources.  I got some disks from Wave Media in a range from 70-130.  The material is okay.  It's mostly witness statements, Judge's statements, announcements, public meeting statements, etc.  Each piece is dictated twice.  If you're doing the 70-80 disk, it gives you the first take at 70, pauses, gives you the second portion at 70, and then starts over at 80 and dictates the two portions of the take at those speeds.  Every now and again, I can convince my partner to dictate to me, but it's just not the same.  🙂   Even if you're doing Simplified, if you can get a copy of Gregg Speed Studies (perferrably the Third Edition published 1941 or later), there are very good penmanship exercises in the early chapters that help.  The 3rd edition uses enlarged outlines to illustrate the points that they are focusing on.  It's very useful.    Peter

  24. I might be able to give some insight on what Gregg meant by saying that outlines should be written instead of drawn.  To the modern person, it seems silly to say that letters are being drawn, because we define writing and drawing essentially like this:   MODERN USAGE drawing – making shapes. writing – making letters.   So, how can anyone say I am drawing letters?  Well, back in olden-timey days, the fact that you were making letters didn't necessarily mean that you were writing them.  Learning to write was a years long process of programming into your brain a particular way of making a particular set of shapes—lines, curves, and ovals—combined according to certain principles into letters.  These "elements and principles of writing" were drilled over and over until all the letters could be drawn correctly without conscious effort, and that is what was meant by writing—making letters by reflex.   TRADITIONAL USAGE drawing – making shapes, including letters made out of shapes. writing – drawing letters by reflex.   Dr. Gregg was frustrated with Pitman because it is written with a different set of elements and principles than longhand.  For marketing purposes, he accused Pitman of being drawn, as it is not executed according to the longhand elements and principles, but in fact Pitman is written—not drawn—it's just that you have to learn a second set of writing elements and principles to do it.  Dr. Gregg had the bright idea of creating a shorthand system that was written with the same elements and principles as longhand, theoretically making it easier to learn to write.  Thus, the beauty and grace of 1800's longhand is transferred to Gregg, and few would deny it.    What the good doctor couldn't have anticipated is that in the Y2K times, no one learns the elements and principles of writing anymore.  That is, everyone makes up their own longhand elements and principles  (handwriting drills are now considered cruel and unusual by the educational system), so in order to write Gregg, they still have to learn a second set, and that particular advantage Gregg has over Pitman is negated.  So, unless you write cursive somewhat correctly, you will probably have the same amount of work to do to learn to write shorthand whether you choose Gregg or Pitman.   Now, those who chose Gregg over Pitman on the grounds that it is written like longhand might be grumbling over my bursting their bubbles, but not to worry!  All is not in vain.  When a modern writer learns to write shorthand according to the Gregg elements and principles, it has the interesting effect of giving them the skills to write, instead of draw, longhand—just like in the 1800's!  Try applying your Gregg writing skills to your longhand and see if it doesn't improve.   I have simplified the old-fashioned concept of writing here in order to make my point, but to be fair to our ancestors, I will mention that it involved an even more complex set of skills including use of the proper posture, position, and pressue, and the right balance of finger, wrist, forearm, and shoulder movement.  If you want to get into all that stuff, check out these old Cursive Handwriting textbooks. 

  25. Hi, John – Your discussion of handwriting made me wonder how many people write without stopping to think about how to write.  When we learn Gregg, of course, we try to do this to gain speed, and there must have been a good many people who set out to speed up their normal handwriting.   In an earlier thread I mentioned figures I read about handwriting speed which had it that slow is 25-30 wpm, average is 35-50, and above average is 55-60, but this still doesn't tell us if the above average speed is sought on purpose or "just what some people do."   I think Gregg himself had a good bit to say about handwriting habits, but I lack the oompah to try to find it right now.   Anyway, it would be interesting to know if the same knack for "writing without stopping to think" applies to both shorthand and longhand, i.e. kind of knack on its own.   Jim

  26. Hullo Peter,   It's been a hectic week for me; summer is officially over, had to get back to work, but broadband connection failed, discovered how utterly useless an online helpdesk is when your problem is that you CAN'T GET ONLINE.   So I didn't have much time to spend on Gregg, but it may have been a good chance for me to cool down a bit and heed your advice about not getting into new material.
    What was I thinking; trying at speed and dictation when I haven't even memorized all the brief forms!  (About 30 still elude me every time I go over my word cards; I only remember that I got them wrong the last time…)   So, I am going to concentrate on the brief forms and the manual; I started over from Chapter 1.
    The first time through, simply being able to decipher a practice passage completely gave me a great sense of accomplishment, and I only did it once, too eager to move on to the next.
    This time, I am reading aloud over and over until I can read it evenly without any bumbling.   I like the idea of a "warm up piece" though, so I might allow myself to include that also.
    It would be fun if there were a piece we could use that included every rule in the manual, like we used "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." for typing practice.  (Or maybe the Gettysburg Address is something close?)   Next week my sister is coming to visit from the US (I'm in Japan BTW), and she's bringing me some real steno pads, so I'm quite excited about that too.   Martha

  27. No steno pads in Japan?  What kind of heathens are the Japanese.  🙂   Sorry about your very frustrating connundrum.  If you could be on-line, you wouldn't need the on-line help.  Welcome back to the electronic age.   When students are on a self-study program, they do tend to rush through to try and get it all.  It can be rather detrimental.  Your going through the manual again, now that you've been there and done that, you can take the time to smell the roses as it were.  The reading and rereading of the materials will bring great benefits.  Reading well-written shorthand is one of the best ways to review and reinforce.  This time slow down a little.  You should work on the brief forms until they are completely memorized.  Since they are sometimes rather arbitrary, they do require memorization.  Now that you've been through the manual once, most of the books have a list of brief forms — some of them do it both in order of presentation and alphabetic order.  If you have the second edition of the Simplified manual, they have both.  Read the charts, try to do it a few minutes every day.  If you can't remember, don't fret.  Look it up right away and don't get stressed.  Change the direction of your reading so you aren't just memorizing the rhythm of the words.  If you've got both charts, so much the better.    It's funny that you mention the Gettysburg Address as a warm up piece.  The Gregg Shorthand Reporting Course recommends using it as a rhythm practice and warm-up piece.  They suggest that you dry trace the outlines in the book being careful to follow the outlines perfectly.  They suggest you do it several times.  If you haven't memorized it by then, make an effort.  Then write the the piece (or as much of it as you can remember) and write rhythmically — write smoothly and continuously not too fast — the notes should be well formed.  But do not draw the outlines, you should write fast enough to show the get away stroke (the slight tapering of the final stroke of the outline).   They go on to say: Since you have eliminated all mental hesitation by memorizing the "take" and by learning the outlines thoroughly, you can easily keep these points uppermost in your mind, and you should do so.  Above all, write smoothly and rhythmically.  As you come to be more familiar with the take by writing it over and over again, you may increase your speed on it, but never write it at a rate so fat that you will be unable to make notes practically perfect.  As a suggestion, do not exceed, at any time, 150 words a minute.  On the other hand, do not write below 100 words a minute.   Now that you have memoraized this take, you should make use of it all through these lessons.  Use it as a warming-up exercise along wiht (preferably following) the penmanship drills.  Every time you take up a pen in your hand, whether to limber up your hand or to "start the ink flowing," write this take.  It is a good habit to inclucate — but keep in mind what you are writing it for — that is, rhythm. You could use this on any piece of connected matter.  The manual (if you are using the second edition of the Simplified manual) has brief form review letters in lessons 64 and 65.  If you tire of that material, the review of principles following those letters would be good practice as well.  Repitition is the mother of memory.   Keep up the good work.    Peter

  28. Hi, Peter, Martha, and everyone,   I was mulling over why and that reading shorthand is so helpful, and so I looked back to grade school and high school.  On one hand, we did write some every day, but, on the other hand, I remember reading way more than I/we ever wrote.  The conclusion seems to be that our comfort and naturalness with handwriting is due more to the reading that to direct practice of writing itself.   It hardly seems to matter that what we read was printed, because the constant and repeated awareness of how words were spelled seems to have done the trick.   I do get a little numbed by the constant business/secretarial emphasis in GREGG SHORTHAND MANUAL SIMPLIFIED, DICTATION SIMPLIFIED, and ADVANCED DICTATION SIMPLIFIED, but is still fun in some ways.   Anyway, I hope more reading is what I need, because writing practice has left me sort of at a dead end.  I'm not fast enough to take down what I hear on radio or TV, and if I write out articles from the newspaper or elsewhere, most of the time is spent looking back and forth between the copy and the steno pad!   Still, your comments, Peter, about the admissibility of reusing the same material rather than always trying new material are comforting; I guess novelty is less important than building good habits writing whatever you write.   Jim

  29. As regarding the whole new matter dictation thing, in some of the teaching tips set out by Louis Leslie, he warns about giving new matter dictation too soon to students.  He also warns about not giving new matter dictation until the presenation of the theory is completed.  In The Teachers Handbook for the Functional Method, at page 62 Mr. Leslie states: The teacher experienced in teaching by other methods begins to wonder when her first Functinal Method pupils will be able to write new matter, of if they will ever be able to write new matter.  Pupils trained under the Functional Method have very little ability in handling new matter until well along in the course, but once they begin to write new matter, their skill increases with great rapidity.  It is sometimes possible to introduce new-matter dictation as early as Chapter VII or Chapter VIII, but it is urged that no new matter be given until after the completion of 70 Assignments.   One reason for this delaying the introduciton of new matter is that we do not wish to ask the student to do anything that he will think is difficult or discouraging.  Another reason is that, until after the completion of about 70 Assignments, the pupil is not in a position to spend his time profitably in writing new matter.  You will remember that that was one of the advantages of the reading approach — it keps the student employed with the work which was of the most benefit to him, until he was prepared for some other activity.   When the student is asked to write new matter before he is altogether eady for it, he becomes discouraged because of the difficulties he encounters.  Worse yet, he develops a halting, hesitating stle of writing, because he cannot produce the new outlines from his mind fast enough.  If, on the contrary, new matter is withheld until he is thoroughly prepared, the outlines flow from his pen readily, and he is pleased and encouraged to find that he can do so well with material he has never practiced.   In order to bridge the gap as completely as possible, it is recommended that the first new-matter dictation should not be given until after the completion of about 70 Assignments.  At that point, the first new-matter dictation should consist of short, easy matter, graded for use with Chapters I or II. With the improvements in audio technology, radio announcers need not have to slow down and enunciate clearly.  Therefore, it is a bit harder these days to take dictation off the radio.  I have found that documentaries are sometimes good sources of material.  There were a couple of documentaries on the Neanderthals that I found I could take without a whole lot of difficulty.  Some of it was challenging, but on the whole it was a pretty good confidence booster.    The repetition practice in dictation can be a little dull after a while, but the constant reinforcement of the material helps to automate your outlines. 

  30. Re: Left S (in Simplified)   I'm now quite comfortable with the left-s, so much so that I'm almost starting to use it when I shouldn't!   For expamle, "pan" is "p-a-n" with the loop on the outside, while "pant" is "p-a-nt" with the loop on the inside, which I understand, that is the rule.
    But then, "sin" or the brief form for "send" is written "comma s-e-n" with the loop on the outside, which I also understand perfectly, but you'd think "cent" would be written "left s-e-nt" with the loop on the inside, but no, it's "comma s-e-nt" with the loop on the outside.  Why is that??   At first I explained to myself it was probably because the "nt blend" is essentially an "n" with a "t" added to the end, but then that logic doesn't apply to the "pant" outline…   Is there a reason, or should I just stop asking why?   Martha   P.S.  BTW, yep, no steno pads in Japan.  Quite understandable though… I mean, it seems like Japanese shorthand is pretty much dead over here, why would anyone bother with English shorthand…

  31. martha: I think it's because the S is so small that if you try to write "left-s e nt", you risk losing the S in the E at higher speeds due to the upward curve of the nt blend making them very close together. Writing it with a comma S instead breaks up this little packet of squiggles some to ensure better legibility.

  32. Pant is because circles are written inside curves and outside angles. If you joined the "P' and the "ENT" you get the "pend-pent" blend. That makes a curve. Sent is because if you take out the "e", you have right s-ent. There's an angle at that joining. Circles are written inside curves and outside angles.

    Typically, the initial "s" is a right "s" unless it's followed by a consonant going in the same direction (s-p, s-b, s-pent). Didn't you think it odd that you didn't ever see the "s-n" combination written with a left-s in the reading and writing practice?

    You should trust the manual. These guys knew this stuff better than we do. You can trust the theory.

  33. You're right of course Peter, the theory can be trusted; it's just me who keeps forgetting the rules. I _had_ remembered the outside-the-angle, inside-the-curve thing, but! forgot the crucial rule:
    >> the initial "s" is a right "s" unless it's followed by a consonant going in the same direction
    I was distracted by the outline for "cell/sell", thinking if I changed the l-curve for the nt-curve (which was how I was thinking of it) you'd get "cent". But of course, "l" needs to be preceded by a "left s", while the "nt blend" doesn't.  Got it!

  34. …Which is because though the "nt blend" is curved, it's not considered as "a consonant going in the same direction"… because it is essentially an "n"?? 
    I got that part right then, wonder where I went astray…  Well, practice practice practice!

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